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!


At 2:48 pm, Blogger Serf said...

In order to increase voter turnout, we give the vote to people less likely to turn out.

Not the best peice of intellectual reasoning I have ever seen.

Mind you as so few 16 years olds pay tax, its no surprise Gordon Brown supports the measure.

At 9:47 pm, Blogger Chris Palmer said...

Suprise, suprise - those advocating a lower voting age are also the ones most likely to gain.

At 1:44 am, Blogger jphewitt said...

It can be likened to the lib dem policies of shorter prison sentences and giving the vote to prisoners. Fortunately as you have already alluded to the fact that the labour government will not kick away the ladder that has put them in power and as such we won’t realistically see voting at 16 or the even worse proposition of a 16 year old MP. For goodness sake do 16 year olds really appreciate complicated statue law or have a good knowledge of foreign policy or does the commission think that they will offer insightful views on global growth rates or EU trade disputes. Let them grow up, get drunk and live a little.

At 11:51 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

why is a 16 year old who doesn't know much about foreign policy and the EU any different from the thousands of adults who haven't got a clue what is going on in this country?

At 8:58 pm, Blogger Samuel Coates said...

"why is a 16 year old who doesn't know much about foreign policy and the EU any different from the thousands of adults who haven't got a clue"
Because they are more of a minority than those adults. It is a feature of democracy that voters/citizens aren't all going to be very knowledgeable about what they vote for, but why exacerbate that by extending suffrage to a group in which the problem is more prevalent?

At 3:18 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK so this clearly benefits NL but that doesn't mean it shouldn't happen. After all they do pay tax - right? 'No taxation without representation' and all that.

The alternative is to scrap taxation of under 18s. Actually that's not a bad idea ...

At 10:18 pm, Blogger Heather Kovar said...

Now that elections are over here in the states, the holiday season has taken over. It seems no one is interest in the topics that fueled a turn around of the congress and senate. I enjoy your blog. Hope to see more soon?

At 1:59 pm, Anonymous Das Uberdog said...

Worrying that there are a few posts linking the 'payment of taxes' to someone's electoral legitimacy... there are many groups in society as deserving as others who (for many reasons) cannot or do not pay tax.

Anyway, Gordy's own brand of tax is the tax that everyone [i]does[/i] pay, every day, for everything. Stamp duty, cigarettes, booze, etcetera.

As far as I can see, there isn't a problem. So yeah, most 16 yr olds wouldn't know who to vote for - doesn't change the fact (as someone's already said) most adults haven't got a clear idea about who to vote for. And surely, giving more people the opportunity (if they wish to) is better than not?


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