Labour Lords give up on votes at 16 in local elections

Yesterday in the House of Lords, during Parliamentary ping pong on the Cities and Local Government Bill, the Liberal Democrats tried to secure votes at 16. Labour peers, though, didn’t bother to turn up. This is yet another example of them being much more craven than you would expect of an opposition, especially one that thinks itself to be of a more radical hue than Labour has been for a while. This is a policy which was in their manifesto and they should have turned out to support it.

Ever since the tax credits vote in October, Labour peers seem to have got cold feet, allowing themselves to be intimidated by ministers.

Lib Dem peer Paul Tyler was far from impressed, saying:

This no show from Labour means that over a million people will not get a voice in future local elections.

Despite vowing to give 16 year olds the vote in their manifesto the Labour party are now shying away from standing by their policies.

It is clear that Labour do not have the drive or determination to act as the opposition that this country needs.

The Liberal Democrats will continue to scrutinise, amend and fight all the dangerous and damaging legislation the Tories bring forward, it is a shame that Labour can’t be relied on to do the same.

It’s a great shame that Labour have let young people down in this way. Councils might think twice about axing youth services if they thought that they would be accountable to the people for whom they are a lifeline.

Read more by or more about , , , or .
This entry was posted in News.
Advert

30 Comments

  • The Labour Party have got one thing right in the last 6 months, then. Votes at 16 is a bad idea and not one we should be supporting.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 13th Jan '16 - 11:56am

    TCO, it’s been our policy for as long as I can remember, so you’ll have a fight on your hands if you want that to change.

  • @Karen – Longevity is separate to desirability. Just because it’s been a policy for a long time doesn’t mean its a good one. I’ve yet to see a sound argument in favour of it.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 13th Jan '16 - 12:08pm

    Who is this Karen person you are replying to?

    There are many sound reasons for giving 16 year olds the vote, not least the one I mentioned in my article – services for young people are often the first target of cash-strapped councils while those for older people are seen as untouchable. Those young voices are as valid.

    Also, if people are paying taxes, they should be allowed to vote. That’s a no-brainer as far as I am concerned.

  • @Caron (apologies – bit tired today) I’d be very surprised if more than a tiny handful of 16-17 year olds are paying income tax given 1) the relatively small proportion of that age group not in education or training qho are in paid employment and 2) that not many of them will be earning >£10,000 p.a. if they are.

    Yes, they’ll be paying VAT, but so would any child buying toys or sweets and we’re not proposing to give them a vote.

  • If I can offer a correction, Caron: Labour peers did turn up to collect their expenses, but when it came to the vote, they did one of their famous abstention routines again.

  • @Caron “There are many sound reasons for giving 16 year olds the vote, not least the one I mentioned in my article – services for young people are often the first target of cash-strapped councils while those for older people are seen as untouchable. Those young voices are as valid. ”
    Those young voices have a parent or other responsible adult to speak on their behalf (and to take on all sorts of other responsibilities on their behalf).

  • As you can see – well over 90% of 16-17 year olds are in education or training, with c4% not known to the LEA and a tiny handful (>1%) in unqualified employment.

    16-17 year olds are not paying income tax.

  • The reason why 16-17 year-olds should have the vote is because they are subject to what government does. Quite simple, really.

    I am aware that infants are also subject to what government does. Yes, we do have to have a cut-off point, and I think 16 is about right. 16-17 year-olds, as a class, are probably just as aware of what government is and what it does as most over-18s.

    I find the case against votes for 16-17 year-olds extremely unconvincing. It is basically an appeal to social authoritarianism, a feeling of affront at young people trespassing on adult space.

    The late Eric Heffer hit the nail on the head when he denounced critics of the 1970 Isle of Wight Pop Festival as “youth haters”. That did much to shut them up.

  • Sesenco. There is a reason why the cut-off point is 18. Spend time with 16 year olds and then with 18 year olds. You *will* notice the difference.

  • Sesenco 13th Jan ’16 – 10:05pm……………….The reason why 16-17 year-olds should have the vote is because they are subject to what government does. Quite simple, really…..I am aware that infants are also subject to what government does. Yes, we do have to have a cut-off point, and I think 16 is about right. 16-17 year-olds, as a class, are probably just as aware of what government is and what it does as most over-18s…..

    A very muddled argument! You say the reason is ‘quite simple and then, in the next paragraph, you explain why it’s anything but simple….

    If !6-17, why not 15? I know some ‘worldwise’ 15 year olds….You and those who support lowering the voting age should just admit that it is just an “arbitrary figure” with little more merit than 15 and a lot less merit than 18…
    I agree with TCO…. “Spend time with (your average) 16 year olds and then with (your average) 18 year olds. You *will* notice the difference………..If we trust their judgement so much then why not on cigarettes/alcohol/gambling, etc.?
    I’ve yet to read any thread on those “choices”…

  • “Councils might think twice about axing youth services if they thought that they would be accountable to the people for whom they are a lifeline.”

    Council’s are already accountable to “the people”, yet it hasn’t stopped councils closing public services such as Libraries, selling off public amenities and assets (including the freehold) for profit such as school sites and/or school playing fields, allotments, parks, etc. etc.

    Additionally, given there isn’t a defined or common provision of youth services across the country, I and I suspect others (including the youths in my community) have problems actually identifying just what these council operated “youth services” you refer to are and their value to the community.

  • @TCO “There is a reason why the cut-off point is 18.”

    Yes, but if we revisit these reasons we might come up with a different answer 🙂

    One of the big changes we’ve seen in recent decades has been in education, with New Labour setting our expectations that at least 50% of youths will go into higher education and hence not actually enter “the workplace” until they are in their 20’s.

    So it could be argued that we should be raising the voting age not lowering it… 🙂

  • Another Mark 14th Jan '16 - 11:36am

    Have Labour given a reason for abstaining on this (he asked, expecting the answer no)?

  • @Roland “So it could be argued that we should be raising the voting age not lowering it… :)”

    You’d find no objection from me, with the sole exception that front-line troops shouldn’t be ordered to put their lives on the line without a say in the government that decides to put them there.

    21 was a good age.

  • Mark: The only reason I can find is “we want the credit for this, not the Lib Dems”. Lord Kennedy basically said he saw no point in another government defeat in the Lords on this issue.

  • Peter Watson 14th Jan '16 - 5:36pm

    @Sarah Noble “The only reason I can find is “we want the credit for this, not the Lib Dems”. Lord Kennedy basically said he saw no point in another government defeat in the Lords on this issue.”
    It does all seem a little odd though since, unless I’m missing something, Labour would probably be the party that benefits most from votes at 16. Might the New Labourites be trying to avoid handing influence to idealistic young ‘Corbynistas’ and nationalists?!?

  • Peter: That seems to be my take on it too. Labour peers are probably more anti-Corbyn than our peers are.

  • Richard Underhill 31st Jan '18 - 2:41pm

    With the PM in China, looking for trade, Jeremy Corbyn did not attend PMQs.
    Emily Thornberry (Islington South and Finsbury) deputised for Labour, starting on the anniversaries of female enfranchisement in 1918.
    She got a reply about two female Prime Ministers.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emily_Thornberry
    Following the Welsh decision to enfranchise at 16 she neatly executed a U-Turn.
    Colleagues may recall that when Caroline Lucas (Green, Brighton Pavilion) moved a ten minute bill recently she had the support of the SNP, but Labour MPs abstained en masse, and a Tory MP opposed, mainly talking rubbish.
    Votes at 16 has been Liberal Democrat policy for decades.
    David Roy Lidington (Con, Aylesbury) replied about Labour’s actions in government, including health and safety measures. Will ‘sunbeds at 18!’ be in the Tory manifesto?
    There will probably be a Labour campaign on social media, but individual Labour MPs might still demur from the new policy. Labour peers are likely to be over 16, over 18 and over 21. Some females, now in their Lordships’ house, might have been enfranchised in 1928 for the 1929 general election. They could be asked whether they ever belonged to the National Teenage Party.

  • Richard Underhill 31st Jan '18 - 5:11pm

    Equalising the age of female enfranchisement had an effect on the 1929 general election as all three parties tried to attract the expanded electorate of females aged 21-30. The Liberal Party also had a campaign “We can conquer unemployment” from John Maynard Keynes. There was an opportunity for a Lib-Lab coalition in the next parliament, which would have included a massive program of public works, but it foundered on Labour tribalism. [ISBN 1 902301 70 6]
    Biographer Francis Beckett opined that Clem Attlee wrote his autobiography too soon (before he died). Roy Jenkins (MP 1949) is quoted several times and wrote a review in the Independent on Sunday. Publisher Politicos quotes “Beckett gets near to the essence of Attlee, and does so in an easy flowing narrative”. An example of Labour infighting is that Labour won an overall majority in 1945. Churchill went to see King George VI, resigned and suggested the Labour leader should be the next PM. Meanwhile others were trying to suggest that Labour should have a leadership election.
    “I don’t think much of Wilson’s reshuffle. Douglas Jay is sacked. I don’t know why. The government seems to be very weak with no-one much coming up. I think they will get an almighty smash at the next election (1970) though the Tories are not much good”.
    “When remember Harold Wilson and Nye Bevan I am amazed by time’s revenges They seem to adopt Tory policy on everything”.

  • claire malcomson 1st Feb '18 - 3:09pm

    I personally have seen the effect of a 17 year old not being allowed to vote. My daughter was desperate to have her say on the referendum. This is a girl who was not usually interested in politics but because it became relevant to her she was wanting to have her say. She was furious she couldn’t vote. After all it is their generation who will most affected by leaving the EU. If teenagers believe people want to hear their opinions they become involved and feel included.
    If a 16 year old can serve in the army or get married and as mentioned pay tax they should be feel part of our nation and being able to vote is imperative..

  • I personally have seen the effect of a 17 year old not being allowed to vote. My daughter was desperate to have her say on the referendum. This is a girl who was not usually interested in politics but because it became relevant to her she was wanting to have her say. She was furious she couldn’t vote

    I’m sure there were fifteen-year-olds and thirteen-year-olds who were equally furious. should they have been allowed to vote? If not, what is so special about seventeen-year-olds?

    If a 16 year old can serve in the army or get married and as mentioned pay tax

    Ten-year-olds can pay tax. Should ten-year-olds be allowed to vote?

  • Also, if people are paying taxes, they should be allowed to vote

    So if people are not paying taxes, they shouldn’t be allowed to vote, then? Voting rights are tied to taxation contribution?

    Besides, taxation doesn’t start at sixteen. Just ask Aled Jones or Charlotte Church. Ten-year-olds can pay tax, so should we give ten-year-olds the vote? Or just those ten-year-olds who earn enough to pay tax?

  • Yes, but if we revisit these reasons we might come up with a different answer

    And as always the onus is on those proposing a change to come up with a watertight reason why the change is necessary.

    Chesterton’s fence principle.

  • claire malcomson 2nd Feb '18 - 11:19am

    claire malcomson 1st Feb ’18 – 3:09pm
    I personally have seen the effect of a 17 year old not being allowed to vote. My daughter was desperate to have her say on the referendum. This is a girl who was not usually interested in politics but because it became relevant to her she was wanting to have her say. She was furious she couldn’t vote. After all it is their generation who will most affected by leaving the EU. If teenagers believe people want to hear their opinions they become involved and feel included.
    If a 16 year old can serve in the army or get married and as mentioned pay tax they should be feel part of our nation and being able to vote is imperative..

  • Are those wanting votes for 16s ‘comfortable or uncomfortable’ with Wale’s new law banning intimate piercings for under-18s?

  • nvelope2003 2nd Feb '18 - 11:57am

    Children under 16 also pay tax if they buy something including VAT. You can serve in the army at 16 but not in a fighting role.

  • @ claire malcomson

    “After all it is their generation who will most affected by leaving the EU.”

    To take that argument to the extreme, it is not their generation that will be most affected by leaving the EU, it is the 1 minute old to 15 years 364 day generation that will.

    Your daughter can join the forces at 16, but she is not allowed to be given a rifle and sent to a warzone to kill people or be killed until she is 18. She cannot marry legally without your permission until she is 18. She has to stay in education or training until she is 18, and it is her parents incomes that are considered for her university funding and grants. If she was in care she would not be released into the world until she was 18. She cannot legally learn to drive until she is 17. She cannot buy or consume tobacco or alcohol until she is 18. She cannot get a tattoo or piercing without your permission until she is 18. She isn’t mature enough for jury service until she is 18, and she cannot be punished for her crimes as an adult until she it 18.

    All these restrictions and numerous others have been imposed on young people with the support of all parties for a reason, namely, they are not considered mature enough to make adult decision until they are at least 18.

    Of course your daughter wanted to vote, in the same way she probably wanted a nice dress for her school prom. Would you be as supportive of her wishes, if at 16 she had access to all the savings that had been put away for her future by the family, where she chose to spend it on travel with her current boyfriend. I fancy in that case you might be slightly more reluctant to acknowledge her maturity.
    I would personally be happy for votes at 16 once we allow 16 year olds to shoulder their civic responsibilities, together with full freedom to choose his/her own course that an adult embraces on achieving his maturity. I wonder then what the response would be if 16 year olds were coming home limbless, or being sentenced to long periods in prison.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarJoseph Bourke 23rd May - 12:53pm
    Katharine, when talking about poverty it would be helpful to define how poverty is to be meaured for the purposes of developing policy Alston in...
  • User AvatarPeter Hirst 23rd May - 12:48pm
    It's better to remain positive and leave anger to others. The electorate is interested in what we stand for and what our values are. We...
  • User Avatarexpats 23rd May - 12:35pm
    Mick Taylor 23rd May '19 - 8:39am........ Mt wife and I abandoned the Guardian once it started telling lies about LidDems in government.......... Which lies...
  • User Avatarcrewegwyn 23rd May - 12:17pm
    What is the significance of the photograph? Is one of them Mr Cashman? If so, who is the other man and how is he relevant?...
  • User AvatarTony Greaves 23rd May - 11:34am
    Don't get too carried away. All the objective signs are that today will show some genuine progress, but it's not going to be about us...
  • User AvatarPeter Hirst 23rd May - 11:04am
    The challenge is to draw out of Nigel Farage what he actually believes and how he intends to go about achieving it. He excels in...