Having long admired Alex Salmond’s political acumen and debating prowess, I was stunned by his inane reactions to the Tory rejection of lowering the UK voting age to 16. Claims that this “arrogant” stance is “an insult to young people” and will “neither be forgiven nor forgotten” are just pompous fluff.
The fact that other rights are given at 16 is completely irrelevant; indeed, the existence of different entitlements being delayed until 18 makes an equal case for harmonising them all at that age. Is 16 a suitable age for marriage?
Equally meaningless is reference to enthusiasm among under-agers at the Scottish referendum: this was a very specific – and highly emotional – case, not fully comparable with general electoral politics.
Qualification for voting suitability should be knowledge and experience of our governmental processes, as well as the principles of various parties; that should also be the criterion for eligibility to stand for election.
A suitable grounding in the school curriculum would make that applicable to even younger children.
I’d question whether it’s fair to place such a burden on our schoolchildren, especially if compulsory voting is later imposed.
At all events, the signs are that, as in all political debates, minds are already irretrievably made up.
Tranent, East Lothian