Fair Point: Lowering the age limit gets my vote

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The argument as to why 16 and 17-year-olds should be given the vote can be won in four simple words, and possibly you already know what they are.

Just as possibly, though, you couldn’t care less.

If you’re over the age of 18 you have more important things to worry about – like taking the recycling out or something – and if you’re not you still have more important things to worry about. Like taking exams and getting served booze with that fake ID you bought online.

The emancipation of young people just isn’t very sexy.

That’s why when Ed Miliband, speaking at Labour’s party conference last month, said his government would lower the voting age, the pledge sank like a stone in the Brighton sea; lost amid the waves of historic in-fighting and Iain Dale throwing punches at an anti-nuclear protester live on This Morning.

In 2013 – a time when the Red Cross has launched food aid in Britain for the first time since World War Two – debates on electoral reform seem about as relevant as Myspace.

Even those teenagers who are interested in politics – weirdos, as they used to be called in my unforgiving sixth form (and that was just by the teachers) – aren’t exactly chomping at the bit for ballot box action. If you’re going to spend your youth campaigning for anything, it’s probably going to be about something more enthralling. You’re going to be all about revolution and overthrowing The Man. Or, at the very least, getting the parish council to fund a skate ramp in the local park.

No-one ever impressed the hot girl in class by advocating the chance to stick a cross next to Dave or Ed. You can hear the response now: “But we’ll be 18 by the time of the next general election, dude.”


Votes for young people, ironically, isn’t a vote winner.

And yet...

We should admire Ed for making this pledge. Because it’s only fair, isn’t it?

So 16- and 17-year-olds lack political experience? So what? So do most of us. I wouldn’t trust half the clowns I know to make an informed political decision.

And I’m not just talking about the bloke in Wetherspoon struggling to remember his own name by three in the afternoon.

I mean me and you. None of us – or, at least, very few – really, genuinely know the nuance and detail needed for a so-called informed decision. It’s not our job to understand. It’s our job to go with what we feel from what we glean. That’s democracy. It’s the worst form of government except all the others, as Churchill said.

Here’s what’s not democracy: giving someone permission to die for their country, accepting their wish to marry and start a family – but not letting them have any say in the way their society is governed.

Here’s also what’s not democracy: taking money from someone and still not allowing them that say.

Because once a person is legally old enough to work at 16 and the state taxes them, it’s only right they be given a chance to decide who runs that state, isn’t it? Anything else is theft and coercion.

Those four words? No taxation without representation.

It is a sentence that trumps all counter arguments. This may be just a small thing but in Britain 2013 it needs ironing out.

Ed Miliband is right to lower the voting age.