Why vot­ing should be for adults only

The Week Middle East - - News - Bene­dict Spence

Should the vot­ing age be re­duced to 16? Labour, the Lib Dems, the Greens, SNP and Plaid Cymru all be­lieve so, says Bene­dict Spence, and last week they sought un­suc­cess­fully to vote through a pri­vate mem­bers’ bill to that ef­fect. But don’t be taken in by the spe­cious ar­gu­ments of these Left-lean­ing par­ties. Let­ting 16-yearolds vote, they claim, would in­vig­o­rate our democ­racy and show that the young, too, are re­spon­si­ble, en­gaged mem­bers of so­ci­ety. Re­ally? So are they also call­ing for 16-year-olds to be al­lowed to smoke, drink, buy fire­works, gam­ble, get a tat­too, buy a house, drive a car or get mar­ried with­out parental per­mis­sion? Are they clam­our­ing for 16, not 18, to be the age limit for be­ing sent to an adult pri­son? Of course not. The only rea­son they’re so keen to en­fran­chise 16-year-olds is that it would add 1.5 mil­lion peo­ple to the elec­torate, most of whom would be “bliss­fully naive about pol­i­tics” and tem­per­a­men­tally in­clined to vote for the Left – “easy prey”, in other words. For­get the high-minded talk about in­clu­siv­ity. Their cru­sade “isn’t em­pow­er­ing; it’s child ex­ploita­tion”.

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