Friday 13 June 2008

Votes at 16 gets Scottish Government endorsement

I was on the train to the Electoral Reform Society's STV: One Year On conference in Edinburgh yesterday when I got an email from ASWAS letting me know that Bruce Crawford MSP, in his opening speech at the same conference, had given the Government's backing to Votes at 16. I was actually so excited I shouted out on the train, and was almost glad I wasn't at the conference yet as I might have jumped up and hugged the Minster for Parliamentary Business!

It's always nice to see things that you believe in carried through. As I'm sure you'll remember, the SNP backed the YSI's resolution on votes at 16 at Conference last October. Everyone knows the arguments for votes at 16 - democracy, fairness, no taxation without representation - but it's interesting to look particularly at the Local Government level. Young people are closest to many services provided by the Council, but it's often the case that they have little say in how they are run or when they operate. Youth services, for example, don't tend to provide services over the weekend, which is precisely when they're needed most. Because under-18s aren't electors, they have been overlooked. I don't believe that should be the case but it has been the reality.

When the franchise is lowered (and I'm getting more convinced it will be), parties will have to listen to young people rather than demonising them; that's definitely a step in the right direction.

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