There is serious ongoing consideration of whether young people aged 16 and 17 should be allowed to vote in the upcoming Scottish independence referendum, and politicians and news outlets alike are wondering if the same could happen for our General Elections too. I find it a little confusing and very inconsistent, for one simple reason: it seems logical to me that before we can trust someone to make good decisions for an entire country, we must first be able to trust them to make good decisions for themselves.
If we trust young people enough from age 16 that we are happy to let them vote, we should surely trust them to make many other decisions that this country does not currently allow them.
This is why, should 16 and 17 year olds be given the vote in a UK General Election, I intend to stand* as an independent candidate with the following policies:
- Reduce the minimum age to buy alcohol to 16.
- Reduce the minimum age to buy cigarettes to 16.
- Reduce the minimum age to drive a car to 16.
- Reduce the minimum age to view pornography to 16.
- Reduce the minimum age to gamble to 16.
- Reduce the minimum school leaving age to 16.
- Legalise marijuana (just to lock in the rest of the under-18 vote).
As I said before, it seems hypocritical to me to say to a young person “we trust you to be responsible and well-informed enough to shape the future of your nation, but you’re too young and naïve to be able to drink responsibly”.
Now, let’s see if I can get to Westminster on a platform entirely based around trolling politicians on their inconsistencies.
* May be a lie
Bonus story round! I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone this, but since it’s about 10 years too late for my old school to give me a detention, here goes.
Back in 2001 my secondary school and sixth form held mock General Elections to coincide with the real ones being held in the UK. My friends and I printed off a bunch of posters and mounted a ‘guerilla advertising’ campaign of sorts on behalf of the ‘Voter Apathy Party’. Turnout in the election amounted to around 25% of the school, so the Voter Apathy Party celebrated our landslide 75% victory (and the fact that we were never caught pasting our posters over those of the other parties).
I was also in charge of one if the ‘polling stations’, at which some third-year oik gleefully showed me his ballot with a giant swastika drawn over it. I told him to fuck off. Conclusion: maybe 16-year-olds should vote, but dear gods, the day 14-year-olds get the vote, we’re screwed.
Caveat for the hard of thinking: I’m aware that restrictions on young people drinking and smoking are as much to do with health as with responsibility, and I don’t really believe that gambling at 16 is a good idea either. The others are fair game though.