We need to stop denying our young people their rights
Local Lib Dem Focus Team campaigner Bob Sullivan says:
I regularly meet lots of the young people in Waltham Forest. They’re passionate about such a wide range of issues – from the cost of local buses and their education, to climate change and international affairs.
The time has now come to give 16 and 17-year-olds a say on the issues that affect their lives.
We often hear people say they don’t understand politics. But this can’t be said of the younger generation, who are the first to receive a proper education in citizenship and democracy.
They understand what’s at stake. We’re teaching them how to be a full and active citizen but not letting them take part.
Most of us are quite happy to allow a 16 year old to serve us in a shop or to help protect us in the Army. We allow them to get married, have sex, pay taxes and drive cars.
Yet we are stopping them from having a say in how their taxes are spent or what direction our country goes in. Imagine how frustrated and angry you’d be if you were denied the same rights.
In the next two years we are going to decide whether Britain stays or leaves in the EU. This decision matters – it matters to our jobs and prosperity, and its impact will be felt for decades.
It would be so wrong to prevent the 6,021 young people in Waltham Forest whose future we are talking about from having a say in this decision.
Last year, 16 and 17 year olds were allowed for the first time to vote in the Scottish Independence Referendum. Three-quarters of them did.
This proves young people can and will engage when given the opportunity. That’s why I am pleased Liberal Democrat MPs voted to amend the bill on the EU referendum to give 16 and 17 year olds the vote.
Liberal Democrats have actively supported changing the law on this issue for over ten years. Now there is growing support throughout Parliament and the Conservative Government must listen to us and stop denying young people a voice.
You can show your support by signing the online petition at: http://change.libdems.org.uk/votes-for-16-year-olds