On Friday, MPs will be able to support a Bill to bring the voting age down to sixteen, which has opened a dialogue on whether or not such young people are politically engaged or informed enough to vote.
By sixteen, although not a fully fledged ‘adult’, the government already expects you to have made some pretty monumental decisions. It is the year you begin taking your A- Levels or equivalent, which are far more difficult, gruelling and academically challenging than choosing which political party reflects your values the most.at this age, we can even get married with their parents consent, so why deny them the right to have a real impact?
In the current system, politicians continuously win over the older demographic as they make up the largest (and most likely to vote) share of the electorate. They blame the ‘lazy’ and ‘uninterested’ youth, claiming a lower voting age would simply be pointless. As a result of this misconception, politicians often do not work for the young people, meaning that the rise of tuition fees, the scrapping of student grants and so on are a sad reality for today’s youth.
However, like him or not, Jeremy Corbyn has managed to incite an enormous following across the younger electorate. With promises of free tuition fees and the reintroduction of maintenance grants during the campaign for the 2017 Snap Election, Labour managed to hold off what was once a predictable Conservative majority by finally giving young people the recognition they need.
Unsurprisingly, 60% of those aged 18-24 voted for Corbyn’s party and pledges, knowing a Labour win would have a direct impact on their lives. And yet, therein lies the problem – a large proportion of those who it would apply to the most, prospective university students for instance, are currently powerless.
One only needs to look at the Scottish Referendum to know that allowing 16 year-olds to vote is definitely not a waste . An impressive three-quarters of those who registered turned out on the day, along with 54% of 18-24 year olds, confirming that, when given the chance, young people are interested in deciding their futures.
If this ruling goes through, politicians will be forced to sit up and listen to the needs of the younger generation. Gone will be the days of a disenfranchised youth, with more offered their democratic right to make real and lasting change, resulting in more policies geared towards our Generation.
And so, I ask Westminster to give more young people a say. Let them be heard, teach them the value of democracy, and see it flourish as a result.