Douglas Carswell

22 JAN 2013

Votes for sixteen year olds?

When MPs want to appear modern and reformist - but have precious little clue about what needs to change - they start talking about giving votes to sixteen year olds.

So guess what? This week in Parliament, a group of MPs will be advocating giving votes to sixteen year olds.

There are many things we desperately need to change to revive our moribund democracy. Lowering the voting age to sixteen is not one of them.

The chief reason our democracy is in such bad shape is not that sixth formers can't vote. It is that those who do already have the vote are often ignored.

Unless you happen to live in a marginal seat, our political system means you can often get taken for granted.

Seven out of ten seats are "safe seats", with no realistic chance of changing hands in a General Election. Many MPs end up answering inward to party whips, rather than outward to the electorate.

Closed, "A list" type selections, mean that the vast majority of voters in many seats have little effective say over who gets to be their MP.

Perhaps worst of all, the Sir Humphreys in Whitehall often determine public policy without reference to - and sometimes in opposition to - those we elect. This means that even if you do elect a representative who shares your views, it turns out that they in turn have very little say deciding public policy. Again and again, it turns out that it is the alphabet soup of quangos that really decides.

Small wonder fewer people bother to vote.

The problem with our democracy is not that children are not treated as adults, but that adults are treated as children.

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