I was mildly concerned by your front page headline stating that the “Youth vote ‘will shape the future of Scotland’” (13 March).
Surely it is not too much to expect that all sectors of society, regardless of age, but who all hold the franchise, should be enabled to vote on clear information free of political party rhetoric when the day comes.
Clear, concise information detailing the implications (for implications they must be at this stage) of the two options must be presented in order to try to ensure that the vote is considered intelligently, not too emotionally, and certain not based solely upon age.
The Scottish Government has decided to exclude people who have been convicted of an offence and are currently serving a prison sentence from voting in the referendum on Scottish independence.
This is odd. For instance, someone who is released from a life sentence the day before referendum day will apparently be allowed to vote, but someone who is sent to prison for a fortnight for breach of the peace will not be allowed to vote if he or she is in prison on referendum day.
Meanwhile, those convicted but awaiting sentence, tagged offenders, and those on suspended sentences it appears all can vote (prisoners on the run can’t vote, the bill says).
I’m not saying that every single convicted prisoner should get a vote – it seems not unreasonable to exclude lifers, and perhaps others serving long sentences.
In 2011–12, 1,362 people were sent to prison for an average period of 155 days for shoplifting. Shoplifters will be able to vote if the referendum is held just before or just after their sentence, but not if the day falls during their sentence.
Shoplifting is wrong and no doubt merits a prison sentence sometimes. But should being sent to prison at the wrong moment for shoplifting disqualify you from having a say on your country’s future? The new Scotland should aspire to be a just society – and should be better than this mean-spirited provision.
If Alistair Darling, the leader of the Better Together Campaign, is to have public debate on the referendum it should appropriately be with Blair Jenkins, the leader of the Yes campaign. The suggestion that Alex Salmond should debate with Alistair Darling is merely a diversion to allow David Cameron to avoid that trial.
David McEwan Hill
If Brian Allan (Letters, 13 March) thinks enfranchising 16 and 17-year-olds to give them a say in the future of their country is a “cunning wheeze” by the SNP, whose cunning wheeze does he think it was to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to marry, have children, pay tax and join the army?