Age of majority?

November 22, 2005 ,

IN Parliament this week we have been discussing whether or not 16 year olds should have the vote.

Diana Johnson, the Labour MP for Kingston upon Hull North, put forward an amendment to a bill about elections to argue for the lower age. She made a very good case.

She said that younger people would take more of an interest in politics if they could vote.
She argued that it would help to boost turnout at elections and help young people to be more responsible.
The bill already lowers the age at which you can become an MP from 21 to 18, but the proposal for votes at 16 was rejected.

I don’t have a problem in principle with the idea, but I don’t see a great demand for it in practice. It also raises tricky questions about the age of majority.

Some parties, like the Liberal Democrats, argue that the age of majority should be 16, including the right to vote, but also to purchase alcohol.
This does not seem a sensible idea to me.

Last week I met with a group of 6th formers from Ysgol Plasmawr in Fairwater along with representatives of the main political parties.

It was an enjoyable event, and their questions were excellent, but I did not sense a great clamour for a change in the voting age.

In November 1939, thousands of people from all over Wales marched on Newport (then larger than Cardiff) to demand the vote.
The Chartist rising ended tragically when troops fired on the crowd, killing several protestors.

Perhaps the day to reduce the voting age to 16 is the day when thousands of youngsters march to demand it.

We should all value our votes, not least because our Chartist and suffragette ancestors had to struggle for it.