Wednesday, 11 January 2012

All adults should have the right to choose Scotland's future

The hard-right British regime has indicated that it intends to disenfranchise around 130.000 16 and 17 year olds in the referendum on Independence, to be held in autumn 2014.

These young people have the right to marry, to join the armed forces and to find gainful employment.

The British regime compels these young people to pay tax to their Exchequer. Yet it has the unbridled arrogance to demand that they are not given a voice in the future of their nation. In other words, the British are demanding taxation without representation.

It is perhaps coincidental that this section of society is generally regarded to be the most enthusiastically in favour of our land returning to its natural state of independence. Certainly, denying the vote to young adults in this referendum would be slightly less despicable than Labour's behaviour in the 1979 referendum, in which they decreed that the dead would automatically have been deemed to have voted "No" to devolution.

The Unionist movement has a slight problem in this regard, though. Douglas Alexander, William Bain, Gordon Banks, Anne Begg, Russell Brown, Katy Clark, Tom Clarke, Margaret Curran (who is now, gloriously, the face of the anti-independence movement), Ian Davidson, Thomas Docherty, Brian Donohoe, Frank Doran, Sheila Gilmore, Tom Greatrex, Cathy Jamieson, Eric Joyce, Mark Lazarowicz, Michael McCann, Gregg McClymont, Graeme Morrice, Jim Murphy, Ian Murray, Pamela Nash, Sandra Osborne, John Robertson, and Anas Sarwar are all Labour MPs on record as supporting extending the franchise to 16 and 17 year olds. Claudia Beamish, Kezia Dugdale, Neil Findlay and John Park are their MSP colleagues who have backed, in public, the Votes At 16 campaign.

It would be an act of unbridled opportunistic hypocrisy for these people to now turn round and attempt to prohibit young adults from voting in the most important poll in the history of Scotland.

I have written to each of them for assurances that they remain supportive of all adults being allowed to vote.

As someone who is interested in extending the franchise to 16 and 17 year olds, ensuring that all adults have the opportunity to vote in elections and referenda, I was delighted to note that you are on record* as supporing the aims of the Votes At 16 campaign, along with many of your colleagues, and non-aligned organisations including the British Youth Council, the Childrens Rights Alliance for England, the National Union of Students, Scottish Youth Parliament, Article 12, Barnardos, Compass, the Electoral Reform Society, European Youth Forum, the PCS union, the Cooperative Party, the TUC, Unison and the YMCA, as well as most mainstream UK political parties.

The existence of such a broad coalition of MPs, MSPs and organisations would, of course, suggest that the moral and natural justice of such a measure is beyond any doubt save for political opportunism.

With David Cameron's coalition government seemingly intent on restricting the franchise in the upcoming referendum to over-18s, prohibiting around 130 000 young adults from voting, I am writing to enquire if you will stand up to David Cameron's government and continue your very welcome support for allowing 16 and 17 year olds to vote.

Of those who have responded (I will update),

Those who still support votes for 16 and 17 year olds:

Katy Clark, Brian Donohoe, Ian Murray, Neil Findlay

Those who have changed their mind:

Thomas Doherty

A thread running through the replies is that the franchise must be changed for all elections, not just the referendum, which seems eminently reasonable and in concordance with the Constitution for a Free Scotland.

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