21st Oct, 2016

Youngsters divided on voting age issue

Evesham Editorial 25th Sep, 2014 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016

SHOULD 16 and 17-year-olds be allowed to vote? That’s one of the questions posed in the aftermath of the Scottish independence referendum last week.

Observer editor Rob George asked students at Prince Henry’s High School in Evesham and from Pershore High School for their views.

“I think that we should get the vote because the laws which are being passed in this present day will affect our generation when we become adults.”

The view of year 12 student Ben Jones who together with other A Level politics students at Prince Henry’s has been discussing whether teenagers his age should be allowed to vote.

However, Catherine Ball disagreed and said: “I don’t think 16 year olds should be able to vote because they may only hear about politics at home, from their parents.

“This could mean that they take on their parents opinions rather than their own.” she added.

Fellow student Matt Knight echoed her concerns and said: “Although there are 16 and 17 year olds that are capable of making an educated decision, there are a huge number that aren’t.

“Many policies are complex and aren’t fully understood or comprehended by people as young as this, therefore they shouldn’t get a vote.

Sophie Sentance, 16, said she would like to be able to vote but added: “I think that although young people are becoming increasingly more educated and that awareness of politics is growing, many 16 and 17 year olds may not have the maturity to be given the right to vote.

Freddie Downes said: “If 16 and 17 year olds have an opinion they should be counted because, for example, recently children have been told that they have to stay in education for another 2 years. “This is an issue that only affects 16 and 17 year olds so they should be able to vote for or against a party that want this to happen.” he added.

Luke Howells said: “If they have the ability to be able to live alone, get married, pay taxes and even join the armed forces then why shouldn’t they have the power to be able to vote.

“You can fight for your country at 16 but cannot vote for it, think about that.” he added.

Prince Henry’s headteacher Dr Tony Evans said: “My personal view is I work every day with responsibly young people who are making life changing decisions in terms of their potential futures.

“I think there is an argument for a compromise, and extend the age so that 17 year olds are entitled to vote. It could be that they are 22 before they vote again.” he added.

Members of Pershore Youth Council met for the first time at the town hall on Wednesday and students expressed a variety of views on whether 16 and 17 year olds should be able to vote.

A number felt they did not have the knowledge to make the right choice but year 12 student Rachel said: “It would be a good idea, I would like to have a say in the future of the country.”

Meanwhile Ollie, a year 12 student, said: “If it’s a local election I wouldn’t vote, but if it was a general I probably would.”

Year 13 student Elli said: “I’m quite interested in politics but not many people my age are.” while James in year 11 said: “I don’t particularly care.”

Pershore High headteacher Clive Corbett, said: “Although many might argue that youngsters are too young at 16 or 17 to make such important decisions, the interest generated and the resultant very high turnout in the vote makes a compelling case for change.

“At the very least, I believe that politicians should give the opportunity for a full, informed debate on the matter.” he added.

* What do you think? E-mail editor@eveshamobserver.co.uk or leave a comment at www.facebook.com/EveshamObs or @EveshamObserver

* THE DECISION by Scottish voters to reject independence has been welcomed by Evesham’s and Pershore’s MPs.

Sir Peter Luff and Harriett Baldwin spoke after the vote on Thursday (September 18) which saw Scotland vote by 55 per cent to 45 per cent to preserve the United Kingdom.

Both MPs also expressed their hope the so-called ‘West Lothian Question’, whether Members of Parliament from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales should be able to vote on matters that affect only England in the House of Commons, would finally

be answered.

Sir Peter said: “As a former defence minister I am particularly pleased that our strong defence links on the land, in the air and at sea are to continue unbroken.

“This means that significant parts of our air defences can remain in Scotland, that our army can recruit and train there, that the Royal Navy’s submarines will remain at Faslane, that the new Type 26 frigates can be built on the Clyde and that a range of important defence industries will not be forced to relocate from Scotland to other parts of the United Kingdom.

“There is time to get this right, but the principle of “English Votes for English Laws”, which I have long advocated, does need to become a reality as soon as practicable.

“The Mackay Commission on this question reported last year when the issues appeared less pressing, I would welcome the views of my constituents which I will listen to very carefully.” he added.

Mrs Baldwin, said: “The people of Scotland have spoken and I am delighted that they have chosen to remain part of our United Kingdom.

“As the granddaughter of Flora Maclean McLeod Morison, all my relatives with Scottish blood will be relieved as well as we are all family together.

“There is now much to do to learn from this and to work out how to advance the interests of each of the four countries in the UK.

“I look forward to being part of those discussions and hope that we can help to usher in a new era of national politics in Westminster within a secure Union.”