Why young people need to vote Liberal Democrat to have a say in their future

Conservative or Labour Governments would deny young people a say in their future when they will have to live with the consequences for longer. That’s the message from Tim Farron as the Liberal Democrats’ manifesto for young people is launched.

Young people voted overwhelmingly in favour of remaining in the European Union and if allowed to vote in this election, 16-17 year olds would be influential in a number of battleground seats.

Tim said:

16- and 17-year-olds are a progressive force to be reckoned with and the Conservatives are determined to alienate this pro-European age group from the general election in order to secure a majority.

If 16-year-olds can pay taxes, marry and join the army, they are entitled to decide the future of our country too.

That’s why more Liberal Democrat MPs in Westminster are so important for Britain’s future. More Liberal Democrat MPs will stand up for young people, whether it’s on schools, on Brexit or on housing.

Stand up and make sure young people are represented in Parliament by voting for the Liberal Democrats this Thursday.

The  Young People’s Manifesto  includes a host of policies to give young people a brighter future, including:

  • Helping people buy their first home for the same cost as renting, with a new model of ‘Rent to Own’ homes
  • Creating a discounted bus pass for 16-21 year olds, giving a 66% discount
  • Introducing votes at 16 for elections and referendums across the UK
  • Investing almost £7bn in our schools and colleges

Liberal Democrats landmark policy would also give young people the final say on the Brexit deal with the option to remain in the EU.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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This entry was posted in News.


  • “If 16-year-olds can pay taxes, marry and join the army, they are entitled to decide the future of our country too”

    They need their parents permission to marry and can’t serve in war zones until they are 18. It’s been said before, but if you let 16- year-olds vote they must be able to do all the other things that adults are free to do.

  • Dave Orbison 6th Jun '17 - 11:28pm

    malc – if 16+ yr olds can pay taxes then it seems to me they are entitled to have a say as to how that money should be spent. The more we can do to encourage people to get actively interested in politics the better.

  • Richard Butler 6th Jun '17 - 11:54pm

    I was ‘progressive’ in my teens, having recieved not a political education, but a political diet from my teachers. On being exposed to new ideas and information I like many embraced conservative ideas.
    It’s such a shame teachers of all people seem terrified of offering political education rather than indoctrination, a real stain on education.

  • If we had made this the centrepiece at the beginning of the election, and actually campaigned on any of these issues, giving them some prominence, we might be in a better position now.

  • Even newborn babies have to pay tax if they have income in excess of relevant tax allowances.

  • If 16-year-olds can pay taxes

    Ten-year-olds can pay taxes; should they be allowed to vote too? If not, why not?

  • Everyone should be entitled to vote unless there is a good reason that they cannot make an informed decision. 16 year olds are well capable of doing that. The Scottish referendum added further proof.

  • Malcolm Todd 7th Jun '17 - 12:53pm

    No minimum age then? Allow 14-year-olds to vote, 12-year-olds, 10-year-olds, 8-year-olds … ?
    I know 18 is arbitrary, but so is any age. Perhaps instead of an age we should say you can vote once you can pass a test of “ability to make an informed decision”. But of course that must apply to everyone – so, some will not be able to vote still at 18, 21, 30, 50…
    I think the slightly arbitrary fixing of an age of adulthood after which everyone can vote is a least-bad sort of solution; whilst I’m not theologically bound to the age of 18 it doesn’t seem unreasonable. (I’m not entirely convinced 20 wouldn’t be better, but I’d struggle to make a stronger argument for that than for 16 or 18, so I suggest leaving it alone in the absence of good reasons to change.)

  • Actually, the title of this makes no sense: anyone who can vote Liberal Democrat this time must have already attained the age of 18, so doesn’t need to vote Lib Dem to have a say in their future: they already can.

    As for those who are currently 16 and 17, well, even if the Lib Dems somehow got a majority and legislated lowering the voting age immediately, there won’t be another election for five years — by which time today’s 13-year-olds will be able to vote. So even they don’t need to vote Lib Dem to have a say in their future — they will automatically have such a say by the next time they are asked.

    So this must be aimed at… today’s 10-12 year olds?

  • @Malcolm Todd

    I think the Scottish Independence referendum offers good evidence that 16 year-olds can participate in an election.

    What would you consider a good reason to change? Your argument against is pure conservatism. Surely it would be better to make a decision based on evidence and a balance of gains vs risks?

  • Malcolm Todd 7th Jun '17 - 4:09pm


    Of course 16-year-olds can participate in an election if they’re given the power to do so. But why deny 15-year-olds the vote? Do you have any evidence that they would get lost on their way to the polling station?

  • Malcolm Todd 7th Jun '17 - 4:14pm

    My point is, I haven’t seen an argument against some minimum age requirement. If that necessity is granted, then the only question is where the minimum should fall. There are all sorts of ways in which under-18s are treated as not fully adult, not fully capable of making decisions about their own lives let alone the wider community. Of course, some 16-year-olds (and even younger) are perfectly capable of making sensible decisions; and some in their 20s really are not. But 18 seems to most people a reasonable point at which to draw the line, and that is reflected in more laws than just the voting age. You do need a compelling argument to change that, I think. If you wish to call that position “conservatism” fair enough, but it’s a label not a rebuttal.

  • @Malcolm Todd

    Conservatism is a bit more than a label, it’s a way of thinking and approaching an issue. It isn’t always wrong, I just think it’s a weaker argument against making a change than being able to offer a comprehensive reason why the present system is better. Essentially you would support votes at 16 if that was the current law.

    I was wondering what a compelling argument would look like to you.

    To answer the slightly rhetorical questions

    -Why not argue against no minimum age?: – Because you need some life experience and mental maturity to make an informed choice on who to vote for.

    -Why not 15 and 364 days etc:- As you say it is slightly arbitrary, the only other alternative would be to go by school year entry. This issue applies to 18.

    -Some laws treat 18 as adult rather than 16:- That’s more complicated to answer briefly. I don’t see why some disparity is a problem.

  • I just think it’s a weaker argument against making a change

    Surely the onus is always on those who propose a change to explain why the present situation is unacceptable? That is, it’s not up to those who favour the status quo to come up with a strong argument, it’s for those who want to change to do so.

    The thing that always confused me is that is that this is presented as ‘enfranchising’ young people, as if young people are some group that is being prevented from voting, like under apartheid, or women in the nineteenth century, or something.

    But it’s not like that at all. ‘Young people’ aren’t a group like ‘black people’ or ‘women’ who are being told they cannot vote. No, they’re just being told to wait. They don’t have to fight for the franchise: they will automatically get it in a couple of years.

    The ‘young people’, if that means 16-17-year-olds, who were able to vote in the Scottish referendum? They can all vote this year. The 16-17 year-olds who can’t vote this year? Can vote in the next election.

    It’s not like there’s some group of fixed membership which is being denied the right to vote. Just people being told to have a little patience.

  • Also:

    Liberal Democrats landmark policy would also give young people the final say on the Brexit deal with the option to remain in the EU

    Given the timescales involved, if there were to be a second referendum, anyone who was 16 or 17 for the original one will almost certainly be able to vote in the next one anyway (as it would presumably happen in early 2019).

  • @Dav

    I think “young people” can be described as a group : 18-24 would become 16-24. It is clear that voter age plays a role in the way that people are likely to vote so it isn’t simply a case of asking some people to wait.

    As for changing the status quo, I wish that had worked against Brexit!. It’s up to you where you put the onus.

    My point of view is that voting should be a basic right and as soon as you are able to make an informed decision you should be allowed to vote. Surely any liberal would find that quite compelling? Why should someone be denied their say unless there is good reason?

  • Malcolm Todd 8th Jun '17 - 12:32am


    I don’t see where you’ve explained why 16 is any better than 18 as an arbitrary age limit, and you do seem to have accepted that an arbitrary age limit needs to be drawn somewhere. That being so, as Dav says it’s for those who propose a change to justify it surely?

  • It is clear that voter age plays a role in the way that people are likely to vote so it isn’t simply a case of asking some people to wait

    But there isn’t a general election every year, so some people are always going to have to wait. Assuming five years between them (seems fanciful at the moment, I know, but bear with me) then even if the voting age were lowered to 16, some people won’t get to cast their first vote until they are 21 (depending on when the Thursdays fall in May).

    Anyway, if age plays a part in how people vote, doesn’t that suggest that people change the way they vote as they become older and wiser? It suggests that people who vote one way when they are 18-24 later come to realise they were mistaken, and vote differently later on. Given that, why would we want to give them an extra two years in which they could make youthful mistakes with the power of the vote?

  • Sorry, I meant, they might not get to cast their vote until they are 22.

  • Richard Underhill 9th Jun '17 - 5:16pm

    This has been party policy for decades and other parties are coming round to it. Therefore introduce a bill in parliament. The Greens are passionately in favour, the SNP and David Cameron agreed to do this, but , sadly, only for the 2014 Scottish referendum.
    Even Labour has come round to doing this, not on principle sadly, but, it would appear, because they think it is to their political advantage. If 16 year olds go to the polls with their parents, it becomes a habit after they have left home to work, live in bedsits or universities. There are important issues that affect them directly. This is part of a long campaign to enfranchise all men, including Catholics and Jews, to enfranchise women, disallowed in 1842, not just those who worked in munitions factories. and not just those who were 30 years old or older. The new parliament offers an opportunity to go for it directly, not just as part of a coalition deal, in the interests of improving our democracy.

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