I apologise if this post is a bit incoherent, or short, but I really wanted to get this post up today!
If you had asked me when I was 16 I could have already told you I would vote Labour, I probably couldn’t have told you exactly why but I knew where my allegiance lay. I cared about the country, I cared about what my parents told me about politics and I cared that the people in Westminster made decision that affected my life, both in the immediate and in the future and the truth is that most people do. So what happens when these young people leave education or potentially go on to further and higher education, and at what point do we lose their vote?
The answer to that is simple, we lost it immediately and the answer lies in two very clearly reasons.
- Society, and the media corrupts them into believing that politics doesn’t matter to their life. It doesn’t matter, they believe, because society teaches them that their voice doesn’t count and then come their first election, whenever that may be, they have disengaged and lost interest. Votes at 16 would mean that parties have to target young people when writing their manifestos , and it would also meant that they were then accountable to an extra group of people.
- The second reason is education. Many people, including myself, leave education and feel that they don’t understand politics because the truth is that political education in the UK is still rather poor and the impact of this run far deeper than just, knowledge. Currently parliament is dominated by “public school” leavers particularly in this governments cabinet, and part of the reason for this is the lack of political education at a secondary school level. Votes at 16 would have to come with a political education, something that I believe is increasingly important, and the impact of this would be far further reaching than just getting them to vote. Imagine the amount of talent that parliament could potentially be missing out on, simply because we have failed to give them the skills and knowledge to pursue a political career.
There are hundreds more reasons why votes at 16 should be law, but I just wanted to write a short post about this, especially given that Ed Miliband announced his support for the measure in his conference speech.