Any 16-year-old who really wants to vote needs to get a life. And lowering the voting age to 16 would be a most serious threat to our democracy. No sane person suggests that the opinion of a 16-year-old is equal to that of his Head Teacher, or his doctor, or his mother. So why, it would be asked unanswerably, should each of them have precisely one vote? Thus would the process begin.
It matters not one jot how intelligent a particular child is, or how accomplished as a 16-year-old. He or she is still only 16, and that is the point. Anyone over about 21 who cannot see this has a serious problem, and is another person who needs to get a life.
Those at the National Blathering Shop (a policies-to-order gathering of the starstruck, invented in the days when the Labour Party Conference still seemed worth subverting) who believe that giving 16-year-olds the vote would be to their electoral advantage have not learned the lessons of history, which is no doubt why they are still in the organisation laughably purporting to be the Labour Party. Harold Wilson thought much the same thing, but went on to a shock defeat in 1970, the first General Election in which 18-year-olds could vote.
Imagine if 16-year-olds could vote in 2010. They would have been born in the year that Tony Blair (who to today’s teenagers is just that grey-haired old man who started the war in Iraq) became Labour Leader, and they would have been three years old when he became Prime Minister.
The idea that they would consider it somehow radical or rebellious to vote for the only governing party that they could remember is a fantasy such as could only afflict the ageing soixante-huitards, absolutely convinced that they remain the Anti-Establishment no matter how rich, how powerful or – wait for it – how old they might become. Even now that they are very rich indeed, very powerful indeed, and (certainly from the point of view of anyone aged only 16) very old indeed.
“But inside, we’re still 16.”
Yes, I’m afraid you are.