Giving the vote to 16-year-olds is recipe for disaster

Labour leader Ed Milliband in Ilkeston.
Labour leader Ed Milliband in Ilkeston.
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Promises, promises. We’re certainly getting our fill as party conference season, and the many desperate, often empty declarations of ‘we’ll do this, that and the other...’ dominate the news pages.

The commentariat have already ripped apart Labour’s energy prices pledge and George Osborne has sparked outrage for suggesting the unemployed become the new Meals on Wheels.

Buried beneath the headlines is by far the silliest pledge of all. Labour leader Ed Miliband has reaffirmed his party’s commitment to lowering the voting age from 18 to 16.

Perhaps old Ed is on the wrong side of 30 to remember his Clearasil years, but you only have to watch one episode of Channel 4’s Educating Yorkshire to know this is a bad idea.

Notwithstanding the fact it would take scantily-clad models dishing out free shots with every voting slip to lure teens to polling booths, it is far too young an age for any boy or girl to have a real insight into the cruel ways of the adult world and the politics which go with it.

At 16 I still dotted my Is with hearts and my chief concern was piling on enough slap for the pub to avoid being outed as an underage drinker. Tiny worries like who was running the country just took up valuable time.

Nowadays, teens are more self-involved than ever. They spend their lives caring for their Twitter and Facebook profiles and updating Instagram accounts. It is more me, me, me than ever. There is no time for politics.

I believe you should not be able to vote until you have felt the flames of injustice burn in the pit of your stomach. I am talking about the moment you become a British taxpayer.

I’ll never forget the moment I discovered that a little proportion of that £3.50 per hour slaving over the fries stand at McDonald’s drive-thru on a sweltering July day was being taken from me.

Suddenly, I was bovvered where it was going.

I’ve no doubt there are politically active young teens out there, but they are a minority. Most 16-year-old minds need time to mature.

Men did not fight wars and women did not get trampled by horses for our next Prime Minister to be voted in off the back of a pledge for free prom limos for all.

A little advice to Ed.

If you try to get ‘down’ with the kids, that’s the only direction you’re headed.