Sunday, 21 June 2015


This week MPs voted on whether to give 16 and 17 year olds the vote in the EU referendum. I have long supported the campaign for votes at 16.

After we forced a vote on this issue, many Labour MPs made an impassioned and logical case for extending the franchise.

If 16 and 17 year olds can join the armed the forces, get married, get a job and pay taxes we should be able to trust them to participate in a democratic decision that will determine their future as much as it will ours.

Despite this, the Government voted against our proposal. The Tories’ stance on this is astonishing. They are denying young people the opportunity to have their say on an outcome that, whichever way it goes, will have a tremendous effect on their lives. 

We know what’s at stake here for young people. Their options for living, working, travelling and studying abroad. 

The Tories know this too. But in effect they are saying that they don’t trust 16 and17 year olds to make informed decisions about matters which will affect their own lives. 

The Scottish Referendum showed us what enfranchising 16 and 17 year olds can mean - over 80 per cent of them registered to vote in the referendum last year. They participated and brought, substance, energy and vitality to the debate.

The Tories are trying to push this issue into the long grass. But they cannot ignore our mounting pressure for much longer. The Labour Party will continue to fight for the rights of 16 and 17 year olds at every opportunity we get.