Monday, February 27, 2006

Gordon Brown advocates votes at 16

If you follow daily news you can't have missed the fanfare today that accompanied the publication of the Power to the People report. From some of the coverage you would have thought that there was a general election on the issue - The Independent devoted several of its front pages to the document. It's basically just another detached-from-reality policy paper from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
There were some interesting proposals in it, such as voters having the option to tick a box that will give their party of choice £3 worth of Government funding. However, it makes the same lame assertion of campaigners that lowering the voting (and candidacy) age is needed to engage younger people in the political process. Is there not enough work needed already with the 18-24yrs group, the age group with the lowest voting turnout? What would this do to the already flimsy Government mandate at general elections - Labour currently runs the country comfortably from the votes of 22% of the electorate (this touches on electoral systems which I don't want to get into).
I'll post again once I've read the thing properly, maybe it expands on the "16yr olds have the right to vote" mantra. Now that the "Votes at 16" campaign have got their biggest backer yet in the shape of the dour Scotsman, perhaps I should consider the potential problems with such a reform.
Would the logic of their slogans flip around to "I can vote but can't drink/drive, and need permission to marry/go on school trips."? Wouldn't it be simple if we just had one age where you were recognised as your own person in most spheres of life. Oh, hang on a second...
(Click here to download the full report)
Update: I've no idea why his article disappeared today!