Should 16- year-olds be allowed to vote in the general election? Join The Independent Debate

Opposition Labour party leader Keir Starmer leaves a polling station  (AFP)
Opposition Labour party leader Keir Starmer leaves a polling station (AFP)

In 1969, Harold Wilson’s Labour government lowered the voting age from 21 to 18. More than fifty years on, Sir Keir Starmer believes the time has come to lower the voting age even further, to 16.

The idea is not a new one. It was first rejected by Parliament back in 1999 and again in 2005.

The Labour leader has plans to lower the voting age to 16 if his party wins July’s general election.

On a campaign visit to Stafford last week, the Labour leader confirmed plans to follow Scotland and Wales in extending the vote to a further 1.5 million people, telling reporters: “If you can work, if you can pay tax, if you can serve in your armed forces, then you ought to be able to vote.”

The “extremely straightforward” legislation could appear as soon as the King’s Speech, a Labour source told The Times, which estimated that such a move could flip eight Tory seats red in England alone.

Members of the Tory party have been critical of the proposals, however. Conservative Bob Seely said: ”Perhaps Labour think younger voters will be easier to pull the wool over than older folks with a bit of life experience.”

And Sir Iain Duncan Smith accused Sir Keir of ‘virtue signalling’, adding: “This is a gimmick done by those who think their party is more likely to get the vote.”

Now we want to know what you think. Is lowering the voting age a simple ‘gimmick’ or is it necessary for proper democracy?

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