Voting age

GJ visit to DGGS Year 12 Politics

Last week I attended Dartford Grammar School for Girls to meet Sixth Form pupils and talk about politics and what I do in my job as a Member of Parliament.

The 20-strong group of Year 12 students quizzed me on a variety of issues from Brexit to education policy and it was great to see these young people really engaged in politics.

During the visit, the question of voting age was raised, which is timely as the voting age in Wales was lowered to 16 for some elections just this week.  Interestingly, when asked if the voting age should be reduced, most of the students did not agree. Most thought it should remain at 18.  I am inclined to agree with them. Lowering the voting age to 16 is not something I am a great supporter of.

It is always difficult to define when childhood ends and adulthood begins and deciding when someone is mature enough to vote is not an exact science. At the moment responsibilities start at different ages with 18 being the legal age for a number of things includingbuying alcohol, betting, getting a mortgage, serving on a jury and being sent to front line combat.

One of the difficulties with reducing the voting age is, if we lower the age of voting, what else should we change?  Should we be lowering the age to buy alcohol or drive a car?

Most polls at the moment show there is a modest majority of 16-year-olds in favour of this policy with a majority of 18-year-olds against it.

We have to draw a line somewhere and, on balance, I believe 18 is about right.