Last week Labour MP Jim McMahon raised a motion in the House of Commons for an amendment to be made to the age at which a person in the UK can vote. Here Archie James, the new Youth Officer for Basingstoke Labour Party, speaks out about the potential changes and how the Conservatives blocked Labour in a show of contempt to both the democratic process and the electorate.

1.5 million young people don’t have a say in their future because they don’t have the right to vote.

This week the Labour Party wanted to give 1.5 million 16 to 18 year olds the right to vote. That is the right to decide on their future, on their education, on their place in Europe; but the Tories blocked it. They wouldn’t even let MPs vote on it.  They talked out the debate by having Tory MPs conveniently talk for so long that Parliament run out of time. This just shows the utter contempt the Tories have for both young people and democracy, not even giving the topic a chance to be debated.

The Labour Party thinks it’s about time that 16 and 17 year olds get the vote in the UK. You’re legally allowed to leave school and get a job, get married or join the army – isn’t it fair that you also get to determine your future by having the right to vote and influence decisions that are made on your behalf?

As the Youth Officer for the Basingstoke Labour Party, I think it’s crucial that for a fully democratic franchise, 16 and 17 year olds should be given the chance to engage in politics through having the right to vote. Too often politics works against the young – from ever increasing tuition fees, which only serve to deter young people from higher education, to dodgy zero hour contracts that simply exploit young people in work.

This is something that is very important to me; having missed the EU Referendum, I know how it feels to not have a voice, even when you know you’ve got enough political knowledge and maturity to make an informed decision. In fact, if we had given the vote to 16 and 17 year olds, maybe we wouldn’t have Theresa May’s shoddy Brexit Negotiations… or even Theresa May and her Tories in Government at all.

Do you think it’s time that more than 1.5million 16-17 year olds get the chance to influence the policies that affect them? Then please sign the Labour Party’s petition for lowering the voting age.

If you are interested in issues that affect your local area why not join your local Labour Party. Find out more HERE

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