Thursday 18 June 2015


Today the Scottish parliament voted to allow 16 and 17 year olds a vote in General and Local Elections held in Scotland. Those elections involving other UK countries will retain the UK rules for voting of 18+.

Ironically at the same time the Westminster parliament voted to not allow 16-18 year olds the right to vote in the upcoming EU referendum, despite the enormous effects that the outcome may have on their lives.

Cameron, at one point in the referendum campaign, rather patronisingly told us that whilst a vote in the General Election was only temporary, and that in 5 years’ time we could tell the Tories to “F off”, a YES vote was a decision forever; there would be no going back.

Although, of course, nothing can be said to be forever, at least in the short term he was right.

But, surely a vote to leave or stay in the EU is the same. There will be no going back, at least not in the immediate future, if we decide to leave. And leaving a union, whether the UK or the EU, doesn't happen overnight.

If the UK votes “out”, then by the time that the necessary administration is done, these 16 and 17 year olds will almost undoubtedly be 18 year olds with their university education and working lives ahead of them. It’s surely their business as much as it is ours whether they work in or out of the EU.

The bid to overturn the Tories’ backward looking rules was led by Labour and the SNP, for once working together to try to pull the UK into the 21st century.

SNP MP Stephen Gethins said that there was overwhelming evidence from the Scottish independence referendum that extending the franchise for 16-year-olds was a good thing for democratic participation.

When you listen to some of the arguments against widening the franchise, you have to wonder what planet the MPs are living on.

One Labour rebel, Barry Sheerman (above), claimed that allowing 16 and 17 year olds to vote would make them 'adults' and therefore more vulnerable to sexual abuse.


Clearly the fact that they can leave school, get married and have children, go to work, live separately from their parents …sometimes on the streets… and pay taxes, seems to have escaped his notice. I’m just guessing that this may have more of an influence of their sexual behaviour than the right to vote! For the life of me I can’t work out why he reckons that casting a vote would open them up to sexual abuse. However, who knows about those things when it comes to planet Westminster.

There was also anger in Westminster that EU nationals will be banned from voting. This time the government had Labour’s support. Strangely there is an exception made for Republic of Ireland nationals. I’m not sure how they are allowed to pick and choose like that, but apparently they can. But then why Irish? Why not Lithuanians, or Maltese?

Unlike in the Scottish referendum, ex patriots will be allowed to vote.  So, even people who have lived here for 20 years, and are married to Brits, won’t be allowed a say in their future. And people who were born here but live in America, or Hong Kong will.  Once again this contrasts with the Scottish referendum which allowed people who lived in Scotland the vote, but those who had chosen to make their lives elsewhere were excluded.

Scotland 21st century; UK 19th.


  1. I fully agree with 16 & 17 year old people to be given the vote.

    However, the one concern is the proposed "Named Person" policy that the Scottish Government wants to implement. If you are old enough to serve in the Armed Forces, get married and drive a car, then you are (should be!) mature enough to look after yourself. The SG might get themselves in a tangle over this conflict.

    I don't agree with non-UK residents being allowed to vote in any election, with the exception of serving Forces, diplomatic personnel or those working in positions abroad temporarily.

    One note of caution regarding the EU Referendum. The Scottish Government seem to be making the assumption that a majority in Scotland support EU membership. There doesn't appear to be any evidence one way or other. And the real possibility of a Greek exit may alter opinions.

    1. |I must admit to being a little perplexed by the Named Person policy, but in fairness I've not given it a lot of my attention.

      Polls have shown a fairly strong majority for EU membership in Scotland and a smaller one in England.

      The campaign of course is yet to start properly.

      The fact that Cameron is backing staying in may persuade many that it is a bad thing; the fact that Sturgeon is also backing it (but sensibly very separately) may have a different effect.

      Essentially, as far as I can see all mainstream politicians will be backing Europe. In Scotland the SNP and the the three minority parties are for it.

      In England the Tories and Labour are for it, and the Liberals too.

      My natuiral inclination is to distrust anything that Cameron thinks is a good idea, but then I look at the nut jobs who are against Europe, and i think that maybe even Cameron looks sane.

      It is very difficult. As you say Greece may alter some minds....either way.

      Actually I'd welcome guest posts on the EU referendum if anyone is interested in writing (usual terms) regardless of their point of view.


  2. I can think of no, legitimate, reason to stop 16 & 17 year olds from voting; it is their future. Similarly, I can think of no reason, for the prevention of letting resident EU nationals from voting either. Once again it is their future.
    However, I still remain flummoxed as to why expats get to vote, it is no longer their concern or future.

    Inclusive nationalism, as par the indie ref.
    British imperialism, for the EU ref.

    1. Have you any idea, Jim, why no other EU citizens can vote, except Irish?

    2. It's because Irish citizens are not regarded as foreign by UK law. An Act of Parliament in 1949 I believe. But of course independent Scots couldn't possibly be anything else other than foreign!

    3. Thanks Andrew. So Maggie Curran, wailing and moaning that her son would become a foreigner when he was in England during term time, at university...was lying through her teeth? Who would have thought it?

      Can I vote in Irish elections if I'm not a foreigner?

    4. Andrew, is spot on Tris. The Irish are still considered "British" in a peculiar, "we owned you" post imperialist sort of way.
      No offence meant or implied, to any Irish who may be reading.

    5. Ah, but WE would have been foreigners.

      What a load of lying toads the Brits are. They make it all up as they go along to fit whatever suits them at the time. Makes me shudder with revulsion.

  3. "Why not Lithuanians, or Maltese?"

    The Maltese(As well as the Cypriots) will actually be getting the vote as they are Commonwealth citizens. Not that that makes any more sense than excluding them.

    1. Are they going forward with allowing Commonwealth citizens the vote? How on earth can it affect them?

  4. Actually Maltese do get a vote, but not on account of being European, but because they're in the Commonwealth. Makes no sense.

    1. No sense at all. It's outrageous.

      Basically they are saying that the billion plus people in India could decide for us?


    Brilliant article here. If you can please read and distribute as widely as possible. Great advice from a legal mind for our ministers, and those from Wales and Ireland. This is a Tory idea. They have a legitimate right to do what they will in England where they were elected. They were not elected anywhere else. Article also in the blogroll sidebar on the right ===>

    1. Read it earlier and thought it was time for the SNP to starting flexing a few muscles in fact in the HoC there are rumblings about the number of amendments and interruptions from the SNP, keep it up guys.

    2. Great article, it's exactly the kind of thing the Scottish parliament should have been doing, since day one.
      Remember, the will of the Scots is paramount, there is no institution that can override it. Not Holyrood, not Westminster; especially now we have Scotland represented by MPs only interested in Scotland's interests; and not London lead donkeys with red rosettes.
      A constitutional crisis is heading Westminster's way, by their own hands.

    3. Hear hear.

  6. Oh look Cameron and his gang of motor morons walking ... sort of and speaking ... well more like mumbling their way through the 16 and 27 year olds denied the right to vote on their future.

    Well there we have it folks ... Cameron walking around with his head stuffed up his own earse ... AGAIN!

    1. No wonder he keeps banging into stuff.

  7. With all those postal votes, it's the perfect opportunity for a massive fix

  8. I was one of the detractors of 16-17 year old voting in elections. It took me the Indyref to do a U-turn and finally see the logic in it. The current electoral system latently encourages political apathy. Short of a reform, this is one of the ways to encourage participation in the political process.

    As we saw, 16-17 year olds were just as passionate as any other voters in the Indyref. Some of reasonings against them voting were clearly dispelled.

    Cameron's logic that they are immature may have traction but this the challenge. Parents, schools and the governments must educate and highlight the pros and cons of the EU referendum. Only then an informed decision can be made.

    Granted some will make rash decisions on this matter but this could be made statistically negligible. The paramount consideration is to make them feel engaged and connected to the political process. Once they get the hang of voting, they will keep voting. We can stop this apathetic malaise at a young age.

    The real reason Cameron is disenfranchising them is simple and we all know why. He cannot depend on them to vote UK out. He learnt in the Indyref. In Scotland, his arm is twisted and he has to concede this in relation to Scottish Parliament election.

    I am for one is bloody excited about this. So many young and idealistic young minds untainted by the lethargy of daily life to be won over. And they will make you work for every one of their votes. I bet some politicians will be quaking in their pants/skirt.

    To the youth of Scotland who might be reading this, start voting. There is a reason why current politicians are after the pensioners' vote. Because they vote and politicians are scared of their vote bloc. You can do and be the same.

    1. I think the argument that people are too immature at 16 is a poor one.

      We say, you can get married and /or bring a child into the world at 16... but you are too immature to help elect the government that taxes you and makes decisions about your children's future?

      Surely that is a nonsense.

      Working with 15/16 year olds, I;ve found them to be remarkably mature. They learn about politics at school adn can get quite fired up about it. Many leave school at 16 and loose interest until the first election after they pass 18.

      You're right. This is a sop to the right wingers who want the Uk out of the EU and away from the influence of foreigners, whom they hate and young people are probably less likely to go for that.

      Incidentally I know an awful lot of people who are in their 40s and 50s who are immature, and politically naive and who have no idea why they are voting the way they are voting.

      The Uk government treats young people the way they used to treat women until they were dragged screaming into the 20th century.

    2. Another point I forgot to add is that 16-17 year olds' outlook is different from the Government. I think they actually believe in the unity of Europe deep down. They are more willing to invest their heart and soul in it regardless of the ups and downs.

      Cameron is a cynical b*****d. Wanting to stay in EU during the good times. Alternatively if he DOES want to stay in EU, serves him right for whipping UKIPpers up.

    3. ....And encouraging the nut case right wing press to blame the EU for everything for so many years.