Wednesday 9 November 2022

Voting at 16: unintended consequences?

It's been a bit of a thing on the left to militate for the voting age to be reduced to 16.  It was in Corbyn's ill-fated 2019 manifesto.  Without doubt, they assume the 16-18 cohort would be a big boost to their vote.

Really?  There's a thoughtful essay here by Aaron Bastani  - the epitome of a thoughtful leftie, though some of his many thoughts are daft - in which he notes that this is by no means a given. 

No, Younger People Aren’t Always More Progressive - just look at Brazil and Israel ... There is no reason reactionary politics can’t flourish this century given the multitude of challenges humanity faces.   

His thesis is indeed firmly centered on Brazil and Israel, which is convenient for someone whose readership probably prefers to think of UK youth as inherently progressive.  But he could have found evidence for what he's saying in many a European country, including hereabouts. 

In fact, surely what's most likely is that 16-18 votes will go to whatever demagogue comes up with a catchy viral theme, be that "Oh, Jeremy Corbyn!" or something confected on behalf of the likes of a media-savvy Trump etc etc.   And timing will be everything: it'll be whatever sweeps the www at just the right moment.  There's no telling what you'll get, and whether it would be Right or Left (by classical taxonomy) - but it could be ghastly.

As it happens, I can't see ultra-cautious Starmer including this in his next manifesto - though he'll most probably have coalition issues to think about, and you know the Greens and LibDems will want it.  They should be careful what they wish for.



Bill Quango MP said...

The universities successfully use the campus vote to get labour seats in Tory towns and cities.

The schools ran anti Trump, anti Brexit classes. It’s an organised vote by the teachers. I suspect the turnout will be high in the school age, providing it’s a term time vote. The teachers organise it and the kids vote in large numbers. It’s a pretty simple sell to a 16 year old.

“ do you want to have a free education that is paid for by the big oil companies? Do you want to be able to use your mobile phone anywhere in the uk with universal free WiFi? Do you care about the 70% taxes that apply only to the 1% richest in the uk? No? Thought not..sign here.”

I’d be very surprised if 1 in 100 voted anything but labour, green or Lib Dem.

Anonymous said...

The irony with your comment BQ is this is capitalists at work

Gotta have an educated country

Sobers said...

"Gotta have an educated country"

Shame we've not got one then.......

Matt said...

Well, the yoof are well educated in anti-capitalism by the teachers who are paid by the taxes of the capitalist workers.

dearieme said...

I have a notion that schoolboys and undergraduates in Germany were pretty keen on Adolf. Not that I'm suggesting any likeness between Corbyn and Hitler. Hell, Hitler was a far more interesting and gifted man.

A monomaniacal psychopath, of course. Hitler, I mean.

Wildgoose said...

That made me chortle dearieme.

And you're not wrong, in fact Hayek wrote just that in "The Road to Serfdom", if I remember correctly.

But give the man his due. At least he wouldn't have flown to Ukraine to scotch the early peace talks at the behest of the US neocons like Boris did.

You know things are bad when even Jeremy Corbyn would be preferable.

Old Git Carlisle said...

I have had it suggested that the Education Corps should be awarded battle honours for the post war general election!!!!

James Higham said...

“ It's been a bit of a thing on the left to militate for the voting age to be reduced to 16.”

Not a lot different to Hewitt wanting to reduce the age of consent to ten. Lovely people, Labour.

L fairfax said...

If the voting age were reduced to 16 then presumably we would have to let children be soldiers again etc. I really think that would be a bad idea.
It is depressing that there are MPs who think both that 16 years old should be able to vote but not buy alcohol etc - do they not use logic at all?

lilith said...

Had I been able to vote at 16, my very favourite politician at the time was a bloke formerly known as Viscount Stansgate....

Bill Quango MP said...

Viscount Stansgate spent a lot of parliamentary time, personal treasure and legal lawyerings to ensure he was not referred to as such.

A true Tribune of the Plebs.

lilith said...

Ahaha yes Bill. I thought he was wonderful, likewise Ken Livingstone....absolute proof that 16 year olds shouldn't get the vote.

Anomalous Cowshed said...

Well, yes, not always the obvious lefties - Julian Jessop has blown this trumpet in the past.

Thing is, it's bollocks. Voting is intended to deliver, determine control over the state, yes? (Whether that control effective or not is a different question).

It's probably then a pre-requirement that voters experience the effects of policy, over the full-term of the election. The most shared experience is tax.

So hours in, cash out, look at the deductions on the payslip.

If the effective (average) age for leaving full-time education rises, then so should the voting age.

As the proportion of Uni attendees approached half of the cohort, then the voting age should have been raised back up to 21, around 2010 or so.

Admittedly, this could all get a bit Heinlein, quite quickly.