LAST WEEK I attended Oldham Sixth Form College to host a debate on votes at 16. I was humbled as it was a full house. I asked for a show of hands at the start of the session to see what the students thought of lowering the voting age to 16, and was delighted to see that by the end of the session the students had voted unanimously in favour.
Students came forward with a lot of questions about votes at 16, as well as other areas of interest, from politics and history, to sociology and economics.
We discussed the purpose and nature of parliamentary democracy, the case for constitutional reform to reduce the minimum voting age and whether there may be other changes that may make democracy work better.
I am an avid supporter of lowering the voting age to 16, and I made my argument for doing so loud and clear during my campaign last year. This campaign culminated in my Private Members Bill to lower the voting age being read in Parliament.
Although this bill was unfortunately derailed by a handful of backbench Tory MPs, the campaign is not dead in the water. MPs on all sides of the House support votes at 16. We already have it in Scotland, and Wales are looking to lower the voting age too. My colleague Peter Kyle will be pushing a second bill on votes at 16 in the spring
So I’ll be working hard over the next 12 months to grow this campaign, and to make sure votes at 16 stays on the agenda of major parties and politicians across the country.