Labour leadership “very keen” for votes at 16 to be in Labour’s 2015 manifesto

24th January, 2013 12:51 pm

There’s broad support from across the Labour Party today for the announcement that the Labour frontbench would be backing votes at 16 in the Commons today. I had thought this was unremarkable as Labour had made a commitment to lowering the voting age in the 2010 manifesto – but I was rightly corrected, because the 2010 pledge was only to hold a free vote.

Expect to see a commitment to lowering the voting age in the next Labour manifesto. A Labour source told me this morning that both Ed Miliband and Shadow Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan are: “very keen for it to find its way into the next manifesto”.

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  • Chilbaldi

    OK but lets not waste more than 5 minutes on this – it’s pretty irrelevant to most at the end of the day.

  • Jeremy_Preece

    This seems unimportant until you think about it.
    I have stood at polling stations and seen the 70 somethings and 80 somethings being wheeled in by the Tory workers. We really need to see young people engaging in politics and hopefully voting Labour.
    Bottom line is that these people are our future.

    • brianbarder

      I may be naive, but I don’t think Labour policy on such a central issue as the qualifications for voting should be determined by any consideration of Labour party advantage. In any case, proposing to allow 16-year-old children to vote will certainly be seen as an absurd and irresponsible ploy to increase the Labour vote, and it’s therefore likely to lose Labour just as many votes as it gains, if not more. Few uncommitted voters or commentators will regard it as serious. On the contrary, it looks desperate. I hope it’s not too late to kill it without delay, and to give it a hasty burial.

      It’s quite simply daft.

      • This isn’t some daft thing cooked up to benefit Labour. It has been done in other countries with good results.

        • brianbarder

          I don’t think it’s possible to measure this by “results”. It’s just common sense that children aren’t ready to make the kind of judgement and assessment of personalities and issues required to cast a meaningful vote.

          • Jeremy_Preece

            How meaningful are some of the elderly who are out of touch with anything but always vote Tory because if only we were always Tory we would still have an Empire. Mad? Perhaps, but if you live doen here in the South then you see a fair few of these and they are of course allowed to vote, and often wheeled in by the Tory Party loyalists.

          • brianbarder

            Well, by any definition I’m ‘elderly’, I live “down here in the South”, I have never voted Tory in my life and I can’t imagine any circumstances in which I would. But if I remember rightly, I was a simple-minded Tory at 16, until I did some reading: certainly by the age of 18 I had seen the light.

            But it would be scandalous for Labour to espouse votes for children because of a belief that most children would vote Labour, whether it’s true or not. (In practice I guess that very few of them would vote at all, and most of those who did would vote the way their parents vote.) The over-60s of course have one of the highest turn-out records of any age group, if not +the+ highest.

            There’s no case for it at all, and the slogan ‘Votes for Children’ sounds to me a sure-fire way to ensure that Labour loses the next election too.

          • AlanGiles

            There just MIGHT have been a case to allow 16 year olds to vote, when we started work at 15, and got to think for ourselves instead of being influenced by what teachers wanted us to think, but with the school leaving age rising to 18 (even allowing for the fact that some people will be forced to take part time evening and weekend jobs), it seems frankly ridiculous to allow school students to vote, when they are at an age when they can be so easily influenced/duped/bribed (delete as appropriate).

            But I remember the 16 year old me: I was struggling to become the next Dizzy Gillespie (which shows you how naive I was – there was only ever one Dizzy (1917-1993) and there will never be another, and I was concentrating on learning my skills in my work (such as they were at 16), and really trying to learn all I could about work . I don’t think I ever gave a thought to politics, even though my grandad took the Daily Herald every day. I don’t think I ever thought about politics seriously, till I was about 20.

          • AlanGiles

            Here’s a treat for you. Here (at 1.27″) is the man I had the temerity to think I could emulate (complete with a hint of Bizet’s Carmen at 1.37)”:


            The arrogance of youth!

        • Jeremy_Preece

          Alex, from the scores that we are getting I think that we are dealing with an “Old Git” element. It makes me gald at 53 not to be on the OG side and is an unusual feeling!

  • JoeDM

    Allowing children to vote is an utterly irresponsible idea.

    • Indeed. Which is why the proposal is to allow ALL adults to vote. The age at which you can pay tax, join the army, get married, give birth etc. etc.

      • KonradBaxter

        These are ‘adults’ that can’t smoke, drink, drive, buy fireworks, watch films like Robocop (or any other 18 certificate film), can’t watch pornography and can’t buy knives or many forms of glue, solvents or paint. They will often not be allowed to buy eggs and flour on certain days of the year

        Why? Because they are NOT ADULTS and the grown ups have decided we need to protect them.

        If you say 16 year olds should have the vote then all other age restrictions will have to come down or you will look very silly indeed.

        “Yes, we do trust you to vote in the election but you cant come to the pub to celebrate when if win.”

      • MonkeyBot5000

        Can you buy a knife at 16?

        No sharp objects – no vote.

      • JoeDM

        The UN definition of a child and accepted by the UK government since 1991 consists of those under 18.

  • AlanGiles

    I bet they do. After all, a 16 year old’s memory will

    be much shorter – they won’t even know, let alone, remember all the broken promises!

  • MonkeyBot5000

    “Expect to see a commitment to lowering the voting age in the next Labour manifesto.”

    When can we expect to see the commitment to reducing the age for smoking, drinking, driving and buying knives reduced? You can’t tell me that someone is old enough to choose who runs the country, but they’re too young to be trusted with sharp objects.

    • JoeDM

      ‘Votes for children’ Is not going to be a good slogan.

  • Uh, they are also people who were eligible to join the Labour Party, pay membership fees, campaign for us and try and contribute to our policy processes since the age of 14 (the Tories have the same policy, btw). Some of our best and brightest current officeholders took the party up on that offer: Andy Burnham (14) and Rachel Reeves (17) for example. And who’s that other guy who joined our party at the age of 17…Ed Miliband. I’m not calling for equalization at 14, but 16 would redress the balance and make our party’s stance (and that of the Tories) on the political abilities of young people less hypocritical and patronising.

    More broadly, voting should be something that should be encouraged. Restricting things at 18 is generally about reducing societal harm in relation to things that require the maximum of maturity (drinking, smoking, 18-cert films etc as you listed), but if a 16 year old wants to vote that can only be a good thing in a country where we are struggling to encourage participation. If a 16 year old isn’t politically mature, they won’t want to vote anyway (same as with over 18s, incidently), so where’s the harm? And that’s before you get to the fact that they can drive at 17, marry (with consent, granted), join the army (and thus serve our government in uniform without being able to elect it) and pay income taxes (raising taxation/representation issues).

    • AlanGiles

      “Rachel Reeves (16) for example. And who’s that other guy who joined our party at the age of 17…Ed Miliband.”

      Er, yes. Strong recommendations indeed!. And on the other side William Hague were wowing ’em at the Tory Conference at 16……..

      I am afraid it was Isambard Kingdom Miliband’s prescription for industry in his “World At One” interview in January 2012 that finally made me realise he didn’t have a clue, and like the Oxford arts graduate who wrote a piece on LL a few days ago gloating about word-spinning an essay on a subject he knew nothing about to hoodwink his tutor, that I remembered modern politicians like Miliband , Cameron and Osborne were busking it, 100% of the time. They live in a world of their own, one that used to be inhabited by Lewis Carroll

      • It’s not fair to deny politically-engaged young people the ability to participate in the democratic process just because you’re unhappy with current Labour leadership.

        Tony Benn also joined at 17. Katy Clark, one of the only devotedly democratic socialist voices in the modern party, did too.

        • AlanGiles

          The great problem is at 16 you think you know it all – it’s not till you get older you realise who little you DO know. It is bad enough having twenty-something SPADs giving their advice (often about things they know little about). 16 y/os would be insufferable

          It also has to be said that some (not all) but some youngsters who get too involved too early are quite obnoxious. We used to have such an example regularly posting on LL. I am sure other readers will remember

          • Correct Alan – as Tony Benn once said: “I’m not young enough to know all the answers.”

            My concern is the lack of interest in this proposal from 16 and 17-year-olds themselves – I know of no protests, occupations, hunger strikes (fat chance!), or dare-devil stunts devised by youngsters clamouring for enfranchisement.

            Indeed, looking on facebook (I understand facebook is as popular with youngsters as ginger beer was in my youth) the ‘votes for 16’ group has only 57 members and I’d surmise that a handsome proportion of those are attracted to the Spoilt Ballot Paper party.

  • uglyfatbloke

    If you can pay taxes at 16 then votes at 16 is not unreasonable. I know people who are well over 18 that are thoroughly ill-equipped to walk and chew gum simultaneously, let alone vote.
    OTH, lets have some limitations on standing for Parliament – no candidate to be elected unless they have had at least three years of working life outside of politics and at least one year in a minimum wage job.. Surely it would be worth the sacrifice of fulfilling the latter provision for the privilege of serving one;’s country…not to mention the £1300 per week minimum and the excellent pension/severance arrangements.

  • Pingback: Labour’s ‘just announced’ votes at 16 policy has been announced at least six times before | Political Scrapbook()


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