Votes at 16 LibLink Special: Tim Farron: If you are old enough to fight, you are old enough to vote

Ahead of the crucial Lords vote this afternoon, Tim Farron has written for the Telegraph about why giving 16 and 17 year olds the vote in the EU Referendum is so important:

He points out the logical flaws in the Government’s stance:

It is striking that the same people who argue people that generations of Brits “haven’t had a say” on the EU are now opposed to giving 16 year olds the right to vote. They seem to want democracy, but only the kind they like – or think will get the result they want.

Sixteen and seventeen year olds will have to live with the consequences of this huge decision for many years to come and to not give them a say, is simply, anti-democratic. This is why I support increasing the franchise.

He highlights the success of the Scottish precedent:

In Scotland 16 and 17 year olds were – rightly – given their chance to decide whether Scotland should remain part of the UK. The political engagement, debate and interest that was ignited by handing the vote to these young people was something both sides of that referendum agree was a highlight of the campaign. This is something I want to see in political discourse throughout Britain.
Liberal Democrats have long campaigned for the right to vote to be extended to 16 year olds across the UK in all elections. But we do so especially for the EU Referendum- especially in light of the lessons from the Scottish Referendum and the lasting importance of this decision.

You can read his whole article, where he also highlights some of the ridiculous arguments from the Tory benches, here.. You may or may not be interested in the poll that accompanies the article, which, at the time of writing, is looking pretty revolutionary for a Torygraph poll.

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14 Comments

  • You can join the Armed Forces – with your parents permission – at 16, but you won’t be sent to a war zone until you are 18. You may well pay tax at 16, but very, very few do. You can get married at 16, but only with your parents permission. Tim, whether it’s right or wrong I’m not sure, but you could have made a far better argument.

  • 16 may be old enough to join the army, but the soldier must still be 18 to be sent to active service.

    Since everyone can vote at 18, so “If you are old enough to fight, you are old enough to vote” is the case already. Is Tim arguing that the age for active service should be dropped to 16 too, or is the headline willfully misleading, or just plain wrong?

  • Peter Davies 18th Nov '15 - 11:32am

    Tim doesn’t actually use the word fight. It’s just the Telegraph headline. Mature enough to walk away from a fight sounds like a better criterion.

  • Richard Underhill 18th Nov '15 - 11:43am

    53% of the Telegraph’s live poll say YES to votes at 16.
    The graph is about the EU with a majority saying stay.

  • You may well pay tax at 16, but very, very few do.

    You can pay tax at six. Some child stars do.

    And fourteen-year-olds will have to live with the result of the referendum for even longer than sixteen-year-olds, soI still haven’t seen Farron explain why logically he isn’t asking for them to be included. Or ten-year-olds.

    But what is really breathtakingly hypocritical is:

    ‘They seem to want democracy, but only the kind they like – or think will get the result they want.’

    When it is abundantly clear to everyone that the main reason Lib Dems want 16-year-olds to vote in the referendum is because they think they might help swing it for ‘Remain’!

  • Dav 18th Nov ’15 – 11:47am………But what is really breathtakingly hypocritical is:‘They seem to want democracy, but only the kind they like – or think will get the result they want.’…………..

    My thoughts exactly! It just goes to show that, ‘a new kind of politics’, is no more honest than, ‘we’re all in this together’.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 18th Nov '15 - 12:05pm

    Actually, Dav, votes at 16 has been Lib Dem policy for as long as I’ve been around, which is decades, not just 5 minutes.

  • Actually, Dav, votes at 16 has been Lib Dem policy for as long as I’ve been around, which is decades, not just 5 minutes.

    And in all that time, has there been a logically consistent reason why it’s not ‘votes at 14’, or ‘votes at 12’ or ‘votes at 8’?

  • So following Tim’s logic, we can expect him and the LibDems to be campaigning for another referendum in a few years time – regardless of the outcome to this referendum – to permit those who were too young to vote this time around to have their say; because not to do so “is simply, anti-democratic.”.

  • Laurence Cox 18th Nov '15 - 12:44pm

    I have no problem with votes at 16 on the EU Referendum, as Caron said it is Party policy and has been for decades. The question I would ask is: Is the electorate wide enough? For example, does it include EU citizens living in this country and registered to vote here for the EU Parliament? Also, will the new Individual Electoral Registration system lead to the disenfranchisement of UK citizens living in other EU countries who are still registered to vote here (less than 15 years abroad). Both of these groups could be more pro-remain.

  • For example, does it include EU citizens living in this country and registered to vote here for the EU Parliament?

    Surely it would be illogical if it did, given the whole question is whether or not the UK wants to be part of the EU Parliament?

    Logically, that is a matter for UK citizens to decide for themselves. Giving citizens of foreign countries the vote in a referendum which is specifically over whether we should allow those foreign citizens to have a vote is nonsensical.

  • As this is a question about the national destiny of the UK, the only franchise that makes logical sense is the one we already use to decide questions of the UK’s national destiny; ie, those qualified to vote in a general election.

  • jedibeeftrix 18th Nov '15 - 1:13pm

    Gee, another day, another occasion to list the many things society doesn’t expect 16 year olds to do (including fighting).

  • jedibeeftrix 18th Nov '15 - 1:16pm

    There are numerous impediments society put in place to protect young people under the age of 18, we need to look first at these before we make rash decisions on who can vote.

    Small things, like Voidable Contract to name but one.
    Or the age of criminal responsibility.
    Another is the inability to purchase alcohol or cigarettes or pornography until 18.
    Or driving until 17.
    Or fighting in the frontline in Her Majesty’s Forces until 18.
    Marriage without parental consent before 18.

    So, before making a fuss about voting at sixteen, first consider whether ‘we’ consider 16 year-olds to be adult.

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