Labour will give children aged just 16 the vote if they win the next general election, blueprint for manifesto confirms
- The party’s next manifesto confirms it wants to lower the voting age from 18
- It states radical change would help to restore faith in the democratic process
Children aged 16 will be given the vote if Labour win the next general election.
A blueprint for the party’s next manifesto confirms that it wants to lower the voting age from 18.
The National Policy Forum’s final report, released yesterday, says the radical change would help restore faith in democracy.
It states: ‘Labour will introduce votes for 16- and 17-year-olds, in line with Scotland and Wales, so that young people feel empowered and can fully engage in our democratic processes.
‘Those who contribute to our society should have a say in how it is governed.’
But last night Conservative Party chairman Greg Hands said: ‘This is nothing but a desperate attempt to rig the electorate.
‘Everyone knows adulthood starts at 18 – that’s when you can get married, start drinking, and smoke. Labour only want to lower the voting age for their own political advantage.’
Children aged 16 will be given the vote if Labour win the next general election (Pictured – Sir Keir Starmer)
However, Labour appears to have abandoned a plan to let EU citizens and other migrants take part in British parliamentary elections for the first time, which caused uproar when it was suggested earlier this year.
Other controversial policies in the new document include giving more power to union stewards – an idea that has survived from Jeremy Corbyn’s time as party leader.
The report states: ‘Labour will ensure there is sufficient facility time for all trade union reps so that they have capacity to represent and defend workers, negotiate with employers and train as well as create fairer workplaces and tackle gender and other equality pay gaps.
Mr Hands said: ‘Despite Sir Keir’s short-term promises to be pro-business, it’s no surprise that Labour is dancing to their union paymasters’ tune. He will say anything that suits him at the time.’
Labour also wants to reduce the minimum age for driving a train from 21 to 18. The policy document states: ‘After considering industry standards and assessing international best practice, Labour will look at reducing the train driving licences and certification regulations age to 18 in order to increase the diversity of train drivers and encourage more school leavers to join the profession.’
Conservative Party chairman Greg Hands said: ‘This is nothing but a desperate attempt to rig the electorate’
Britain was the first major nation to lower the voting age in parliamentary elections from 21 to 18 in 1970 under a Labour government.
The Scottish independence referendum of 2014 was the first time 16 and 17-year-olds could vote.
Surveys suggested that 75 per cent of them took part – a greater proportion than young adults (54 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds) but still fewer than among the older generations (85 per cent of 35 to 54-year-olds).
The rule has been extended to the Welsh Senedd and Welsh councils since 2021.
If Labour wins power, its plan could see as many as 1.5million more young people across the UK elect MPs for the first time.
Asked about the idea earlier this year, party leader Sir Keir Starmer said: ‘They can have babies, they can work, they can join the Army, so there are big things you can do at 16 and 17, it’s not such an outlandish idea.’
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