Sunday, 19 April 2009

Child Matters

Who pays for Every Child Matters? Who do you think?

It is now running a poster campaign for which only children can be forgiven. The demand is for the lowering of the voting age to 16, and the posters illustrate apparently 16-year-old persons, under slogans wholly unrelated to voting.

“I can get married, but I can’t vote”, says one. You shouldn’t be able to do either, say I. “I can join the Army, but I can’t vote”, says another. On balance, you probably shouldn’t be able to do either, say I. “I can drive, but I can’t vote”, says a third. Not if you’re only 16, you can’t, dear. But my personal favourite is “I can fix your car, but I can’t vote”. What others might there be? “I can do up my buttons, but I can’t vote”? Go on, enjoy yourselves.

It shouldn’t be necessary to explain this, but clearly it is. Lowering the voting age even further would pose a very serious threat to democracy, since no one seriously imagines that the opinion of a 16-year-old matters as much as that of his Head Teacher, or his doctor, or his mother. So why, it would be asked unanswerably, should each of them have only as many votes as he has? Thus would the process start.

Harold Wilson probably thought that he might gain some advantage from lowering the voting age. But in fact the Sixties Swingers hated him, and handed the 1970 Election to Ted Heath, to no one’s surprise more than Heath’s and his party’s, because, after Selsdon and all that, they had thought that he was going to entrench economically their own moral, social and cultural irresponsibility and viciousness. As it turned out, they had to wait another nine years. But they did it in the end. By voting Tory.

But the lesson should have been learned. The very young would not even vote for a party which had been in office a mere six years, a long time to them. So the extremely young are certainly never going to vote for a party which, by this time next year, will have been in office since they themselves were a mere three years old.


  1. I suppose finding out that people vote disproportionately Tory is as good a reason not to extend the franchise.
    The logic of that is of course that we consider people to old to vote (and disproportionately Tory) by disenfranchising people over 65...especially if they live in Bournemouth.
    To be serious, if we have an arbitrary age...then 18 is about right (especially if your suggestion that the age of consent be raised and personally I am in favour of raising driving age to 18).
    Indeed I think we should standardise these things at 18. Which also means that I would restrict 18 year olds from serving in military zones.

    The curious thing (usually) about MOST people who dont want the franchise extended is that they would REALLY like it further restricted and would always have been against "reform" (womens votes, property votes, votes at 18)

  2. Quite so.

    Note that you and I may know that the driving age is 17, but Every Child Matters does not.

  3. "no one seriously imagines that the opinion of a 16-year-old matters as much as that of his Head Teacher, or his doctor, or his mother"

    Do you think the opinion of an 18 year old matters as much as that of his head teacher or his doctor or his mother?

  4. David, even now the electorate consists of people who are "clever" - Head Teachers, doctors etc. - and people who, for example, left school at 16 for a career in unskilled labour. No-one - no-one at all - is suggesting that Head Teachers currently need extra votes to reflect their superior wisdom; why would it be different if we let 16 year-olds vote?

  5. Not like you to give other people the last word.

  6. I've been busy with the "we are here to be bailed out, not to pay tax" brigade elsewhere.

    We are stuck with 18. That is not a reason to make matters worse.