Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Who Should Vote?

From ITV

A pledge to give 16 and 17-year-olds the vote in general elections will be in the next Labour manifesto, Ed Miliband has promised.

The opposition leader said politicians had to address a 'crisis in our democracy' and involving young people more was a 'really important part of that'.

Personally, I think that's a terrible idea. We mostly link rights to being an adult, that by the time you can vote, you can do everything else.At 16 you can't get married without parental consent, buy cigarettes or alcohol, or drive or serve on a jury, appear in pornography, consent to your teacher shagging you, make a will, carry an organ donor card, place a bet in a casino, see an 18 film or get a tattoo. And over the past decade, some of those changed against 16 year olds. When I was a lad, you were considered adult enough to choose to buy cigarettes, appear in Page 3 or shag a teacher.

So, whilst we've revised what we think of 16 year olds as even more fragile creatures who aren't capable of making certain decisions, we're now saying that they are capable of voting. Bizarre.

And what's going to happen to all those laws when 16 year olds can vote? Broadly speaking, this isn't an issue today. Other than adopting children and driving buses, everything else is legal at 18. Most 18 year olds aren't bothered about driving a bus or adopting children. But if you gave me a vote at 16 and a party stood on the ticket of lowering the age of getting in to see The Evil Dead or getting served  cider at Tesco, I'd have voted for them. I couldn't have given too hoots about taxes rising or improving housing at that age.  I was more bothered about trying to get a shag, getting served and listening to the Sisters of Mercy (and at that age, that's what you should be doing).

It'll probably happen, though. Labour are going for it because they see more clients to vote for them, more people who will vote to raise taxes and spend more because they won't pay for it. The Tories know that they'll be accused of hating children if they argue against it and will be too spineless to have an argument.


Mark Wadsworth said...

I'm sort of in agreement, but it's an extra two million natural YPP voters, so fair enough.

Rich Tee said...

Labour's vote share has been in gradual decline since the 1950s (except for a blip in the 1980s) and this will get worse as the population ages because people get more right-wing as they get older.

So they have to support this, it's a matter of long term survival for them.

Kj said...

Yup, it's simply a vote harvesting technique for the left. I remember youth politics, it wasn't pretty. You could have a commie party getting a 60% win the first year and a right populist party winning the same percentage the next year in the same year. I also remember the school debates with invited politicians, where they launched such pressing issues as VAT free CDs and concert tickets, free computers, driving lessons and lowering the age of voting. Sorry but no.

Mike said...

If we disenfranchised everybody who would vote in their own self-interest, who would be left?

Also consider that the age of criminal responsibility is just 10.

Personally, I think there's a lot more to say for a maximum voting age, rather than a minimum.

Nessimmersion said...

What does it say when the least wise are being sought as voters. The term "Low Information Voters" was coined for this type of situation.

Voting in your self interest is sort of the point isn't it?
My self interest is to live in a successful vibrant peaceful country, not for instance "Venezuela with drizzle"

The Stigler said...

I'm not so sure. It depends on your policies.

But didn't everyone's fall.


It's not about disenfranchisement. It's about who is fit to vote. If we're saying someone can't make a reasonable decision about gambling or donating an organ, should we be giving them a vote?

Sackerson said...

Wilson lowered the voting age and they voted Tory!

Rich Tee said...

Stigler, I have had a quick look for the voting graphs I have seen. There is one here:


Although Conservative vote share is declining, Labour's is declining faster and less people vote for them overall.

Labour also have the problem that as working class living standards rise people have less reason to vote for them.

Mike said...

Ness, Agreed self-interest is an important part of the process and shouldn't disqualify anyone. "Low information voters" I would imagine are well represented across all age groups.

Stigler, I would argue that most 16 year-olds are capable of making reasonable decisions; or at least as reasonable as those made by many people in their 20s (or 80s!).

Many kids mature early, and would be well able to vote much earlier than 16. Granted, many others don't, but then the passage of time gives no guarantee that they ever will.

Compare them to the over-75s. Many old people remain mentally sharp, rational and open-minded to the end, but the majority have an instinctive fear of change and develop a very fixed view of the world (often exacerbated by dementia, which makes absorbing new information ever harder).

Hence they tend to vote out of habit, or for whoever offers the most nostalgic view of the past (enter UKIP et al).

Sure, young people have an instinctive desire for change and novelty, and will probably vote for their own short-term interests, but I don't see why this is any less valid.

Lola said...

I don't think people get more 'right wing' as they get older. What they realise is that they know more than the 'great and the good' and think that they should just bugger off and let us sort it out. That is they get more classical liberal.

Mike said...

Lola, I don't think they necessarily get any more right-wing either, but I do think existing political views become ossified.

In that sense, they are conservative (with a small c), but in a society where socialist ideologies prevailed, I would expect people to get more left-wing with age.

As it is, the older people of today grew up and lived in a very authoritarian social structure, so most often they seek to conserve those sorts of values.

Lola said...

Mike. True. You can see it here. Hence 'Fabian Gradualism' and the long march through the institutions.

Lola said...

I do not think there is a crisis of, or in, our democracy in the sense meant by that utter twat Milliband. There is a crisis in our democracy of government accountability, but that is entirely (and deliberately) the making of Milliband and his cronies both past and present who have sought to outsource government to quangos whose terms of reference are specifically to ensure zero Parliamentary, and hence democratic, accountability.
He really is the most odious, gormless, clueless and deceitful little tick.

DBC Reed said...

The 16-17yr olds are less likely to vote to maintain unearned capital gains in their house prices than their morally degenerate* parents.More recruits for MOPP( Mark's Own Political Party)?
* "Morally degenerate" a term once thrown, in my direction, by some very smart( in both senses of the word)Parisian women to describe the English obsession with house price inflation.