Votes at 16?

I was asked at a recent hustings meeting if I supported votes at 16. I said this issue had not come up for debate or vote in the last Parliament. I have not made up my mind about it. If elected to the next Parliament, then I will consult widely with constituents, should it become an issue.

In the meantime I would be interested to hear your views.

Published and promoted by Thomas Puddy for John Redwood, both at 30 Rose Street Wokingham RG40 1XU


  1. Tad Davison
    April 25, 2015

    Well here’s my take on it John,

    Age isn’t as important as knowing the subject, and really appreciating what is it the individual is actually voting for. I get tired of hearing the ‘knuckle-draggers’ say, ‘I’m voting for the working man, I’m voting Labour’ without really appreciating that every Labour government in history has ruined the economy and left office with higher unemployment than when they started.

    Had I lived 100 years ago, when there was a far less equal society than the one we presently have, I might have supported the Labour party. I might even have been a trades unionist, but the world has moved on and so has the party. It is now infused with liberal interventionists, criminal-loving do-gooders, people who deliberately discriminate against men, and out-of-touch politicians who have never done a hard days graft in their life. How the hell can they say they represent the common man, I don’t know.

    I won’t be popular, but I am open to the suggestion that people should show they are competent to vote. I resent it when people who cannot even name their local MP, least of all what they stand for; cannot name the Prime Minister; cannot tell us anything at all about the EU; or think that Winston Churchill was ‘just some bloke from the war’, should have a say over my future.

    Many people would vote Labour if they put up a donkey with a red rosette as a candidate, regardless of that damage they might cause (although I freely concede some donkeys might do a better job). Why should a person vote for ANY party unless they know what they are letting the rest of us in for?

    To return to the original question, some sixteen-year-olds have a better knowledge of politics than their elders – I did! But there are those of all ages who just haven’t got a clue, and it’s like letting a person drive a car without first proving they are competent to do so.

    Voting is an automatic right, but unless we can bring about a better more fully informed public, I think the present system has some serious flaws. Ignorance of the issues, or putting blind faith in those who seek to govern us, has left us with some massive problems in the past, and could well do so in the future.

    Tad Davison


  2. Colin
    April 25, 2015

    This issue is always discussed in a muddled way. Are we talking about allowing people who are legally children to vote, or are we talking about reducing the age of majority to 16? Personally I’m not in favour of either.

    If the former, why should people who aren’t considered old enough to drive a car or buy alcohol or tobacco be considered mature enough to vote?

    If the latter, will we remove other age-related restrictions? Should a 16-year-old be allowed to drive, buy cigarettes, or sleep with their teacher?

  3. Anthem
    April 25, 2015

    Why not? The standards required of those allowed to govern appear to have dropped in recent years, why not the age at which you can vote for them?

    My own problem with this idea is that almost everyone is a socialist at 16 – it’s only when you’ve lived a little that you start to appreciate the damage it causes.

    Rather than increase voter turn-out by allowing those of a younger age to vote, would it not be a better idea to put something forward that encourages that enormous majority who are over 18 but feel completely unrepresented by the main parties to head off to the polling station once again?

  4. DaveM
    April 26, 2015

    As the father of a (nearly) 16 year old and an 18 year old, I’d say move it back to 21.

  5. Gordon Hetherington
    April 26, 2015


    I have noticed an interesting contrast in the views expressed by liberal left-wing commentators on Question Time in recent weeks.

    When the issue of votes at 16 was mentioned, they were all very strongly in favour of enfranchising “these young adults”. When the issue of 16-year olds leaving the UK to join IS was discussed the 16-year olds became “immature children” that we had to search out and protect from themselves.

    Having observed my own children, I tend to DaveM’s view – return the voting age to 21 (and also the age for driving on public roads).



  6. alan jutson
    April 27, 2015

    Interesting topic John.

    At age 16 most teenagers from my experience tend to be of Socialist thought because they have few personal possessions or wealth, have paid little if anything into the system with regards to tax, and believe that the Country should provide as much as possible.

    As you work and mature, keeping control of your own money and attempting to accumulate personal possessions and perhaps a home of your own, leads you to perhaps a more capitalist/Conservative outlook.

    Later in life when about to retire you tend to want to protect what assets you have, and perhaps think rather more about future health, care and pension provision. So a small “c” Conservative outlook remains.

    When elderly you may tend to worry more about health and future care, and what the State will provide. so perhaps you revert back to a more socialist, small “c” conservative point of view.

    Votes at 16 ?

    Sorry not enough common sense or world experience at that age in my view.

    18 is low enough. Too low for many, as others have already outlined.

    1. William Shand
      April 28, 2015

      I’ll preface this by saying that I’d consider myself to be left of centre, but I visit this website and read your blogs because I think it’s really important to keep engaged with intellectual people “on the other side”. After all, good ideas don’t belong exclusively to a political ideology.

      My view is simple: if someone is old enough to fight, bleed and die for their country, then they deserve a say in it’s future. Beyond this, 16 year olds can get a job, rent a property, get married without parental consent (in Scotland) and generally contribute to society.

      A brief word on the “all 16 year olds are socialists” argument that I’ve read a few times in the comments: in the Scottish referendum, 16 year olds were able to vote and, along with those over 65, were the only age group to vote against independence. Given that those on the Scottish political left overwhelmingly voted in favour of independence, perhaps this idea doesn’t hold weight.

      1. alan jutson
        April 29, 2015


        Please read my post carefully.

        I did not say ALL I simply said many.

        Additionally many times I said PERHAPS.

        I absolutely and fully agree that at 16 you could die for your Country, but in choosing to join the armed forces you surely have an idea that this may happen, and if in the armed services you can be sent to an area of conflict, of which there are far too many in this World.

        Certainly at the age of 16 I had Socialist views, as did many of my friends at the time. Then as I matured I realised quickly that the State cannot possibly provide everything, because it can never gain enough tax income to do so, and in any case personal responsibility and initiative is important for the individual.

        Shame some mature people cannot understand this very simple fact either.

        Another simple analogy of human nature.

        Why is it people in later years all of a sudden find the Church after years of disbelief, is it because its just in case ?

        Rest assured I am no intellectual.

        I went to a Secondary modern school, our family lived in a private rented house, I served a fully indentured apprenticeship in engineering, went to Poly tech for 8 years to gain further qualifications, was a member of a Union, and even a (responsible) Shop Steward for a few years at one time.

        I just simply post my views as I see it, having had a full working life, and done reasonably well through my own efforts.
        Yes of course I have had knock backs, as have many others.
        I was made redundant 3 times before I was 30, but you just learn to get on with it.

        From my point of view too many 16 year olds have lived a too protected life, sheltered from the real world by their parents, to really know what is going on.
        Many have never done any sort of voluntary work, a part time paid job, (not even a paper round), or served in a shop for a few hours a week etc, etc.

        Hence the reason for simply posting my views as I see it.

        That of course does not mean that I am right, or indeed that my views hold any weight.

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