With plans being discussed to give 16 and 17 year-olds in Scotland the right to vote in the independence referendum, should the voting age be lowered to 16 across the UK?
In 2010, turnout was at just 65%, partly due to increased voter apathy in the wake of the financial crisis. But is apathy something which develops with age? Perhaps giving young people the right to vote would help to change those shocking turnout statistics.
Not only that, but young people could be the key to changing politics and getting more people interested in it. We already have schemes which get young people politically active, such as youth councils, which help them get their voice heard, but more can still be done.
Local MPs and councillors could go into schools and colleges to have discussions with young people. That wouldn’t just mean more people getting involved in politics from a young age, but would also see young people debating, which is a fantastic skill to learn.
Of course, for that to have a real impact, people would need to have at least a basic understanding of politics. That’s why I believe politics should be made compulsory in high school, equipping young people with vital knowledge.
When I was in high school, I developed an interest in politics, which actually stemmed from studying History, but I wasn’t able to study it until I began my A-Levels. If I had been able to vote at 16, I probably would’ve been able to make a competent decision, but I don’t think many others would at that age.
A lot of responsibility comes with the right to vote, so it would be dangerous to put that responsibility in the hands of people with no political knowledge who would be easily swayed by political parties.
But if they were educated on the subject, they would be able to make an informed decision, whilst also learning other valuable skills in the process.