Tuesday, 01 December 2015

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Lower voting age, raise turnout?

Politicians are regularly whining about the continuing rise in voter apathy.

Year after year, fewer of us vote. This could be because the quality of the candidates don’t enthuse us, that we don’t think our MP will make any difference to where we live or improve our lives, or that we think they’re all corrupt and in the job for themselves.

I wouldn’t really agree with any of that.

There are many hard-working MPs who do a lot for their constituencies and who do make a difference for the people they represent.

They may not be as vocal, media savvy and headline grabbing as some, but I’d rather have a quietly effective MP than one who regul-arly makes the front pages but doesn’t actually achieve very much.

Carlisle MP John Stevenson is trying to whip up support for the idea of Britain pulling out of Europe.

He wants people to sign his online petition calling on the Govern-ment to hold a referendum on withdrawal.

At a time of recession, soaring food and fuel bills and less work, I think most of us have bigger and more immediate issues to bother with.

If he wants to stir up some interest in politics, he could ask people to call for a change in the voting age.

More worrying than whether we should be in Europe or not is the idea that voting, like listening to vinyl, smoking pipes and finding Countdown entertaining, is something that old people do.

Young people just aren’t bothered.

But maybe, if we followed the lead of the Scottish devolution vote and allowed 16 and 17-year-olds the vote, it would inject some life and interest into our elections.

Perhaps it would encourage our political parties to inject some colour and enthusiasm into their campaigns.

They would certainly pay more attention to policies such as ever-changing exam systems, tuition fees, the minimum wage, apprenticeships and unpaid work experience

We might get more MPs with genuine ideals, rather than party loyalists.

There’s an argument that 16 and 17-year-olds deserve to vote more than those who are 80+.

After all, the elderly may not be around long enough to see the full effects of how they voted, while teenagers will have to live with the results for decades.

Knowing that they will have to live with the consequences of their votes might also make our teens more responsible and socially aware.


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Do you feel safe going to football matches?

1: Yes - there is hardly any trouble compared to the bad old days

2: No - sadly you will always get idiots who spoil if for rest

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