At the last general election 16-18 year old were not given a say on issues that affected them, thousands of students had their EMA taken away and thousands more found out that they’d now have to pay £9000 a year for their university tuition. Issues like this affect young people too much for them not to be given a voice to object. If we don’t give them a voice it gives the government the opportunity to target them even more, knowing that they have no right of reply.
In this country we place enough responsibility on 16 year olds to allow them to join the armed forces and even to pay income tax and National insurance, if 16 year olds are responsible enough to serve the country and are paying into the system they ought to have a say on how the system is run.
We’ve seen last September in the Scottish referendum the impact that giving young people a political voice can have. Young people showing an interest in politics can drive the debate forward and offer fresh perspectives on a range of issues. The inclusion of 16 year olds led to a whole country becoming politically motivated and dispelled the myth that young people aren’t interested in politics. If we give 16 year olds the ability to change things then we see how interested they can be.
The Labour Party will improve citizenship and political education in schools to ensure that the next generation of young voters will have the tools to make an educated decision on who they want to run their country, as well as encouraging them to register in school and looking at ways to make voting easier for young people, if we lower the voting age to 16 we could see the most politically enthused group of young voters that we’ve ever seen.
This issue is so important because young people can make a difference with their vote, in many constituencies in the country the number of 16 and 17 year olds on the register would exceed the sitting MP’s majority. This shows the incredible power 16 and 17 year olds could have and should have to change the country for the better.
Bryn de Ivy, is a sixth form student from Newcastle upon Tyne