i Editor's Letter: The right age to vote


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The Independent Online


Did you see the story about the Aussie bloke kicked out of a bar for his mullet? Didn't we all have a mullet once? No? Apparently not. Well, even if YOU didn't, I'm sure there were things about your 16-year-old self you regret.

At 16 I was growing my hair long; dropping Queen and Thin Lizzy for Bauhaus and Siouxsie; failing to get into smoking and learning to drink Thunderbird, both via a best friend who is now a well-known TV presenter. I dressed like Jimi Hendrix and put the first famous female crushes on my wall. Siouxsie, Debbie and Nastassja wrapped in a snake replaced Phil, Freddie and Peter Lorimer. A wonderful teacher named Bernie Robson (RIP) was trying his best to engage us in politics when he should have been conjugating Latin verbs.

I was 15 when Mrs Thatcher came to power. Everyone who I admired hated her, except for my ma, whose life (and ours) Mrs T improved dramatically via her controversial right-to-buy your own council house scheme. At 18 we could vote for the first time in 1983. "I voted Conservative," said my friend, "it sounded nicer".

My 16-year-old today is knee-deep in Caliban's role in The Tempest and other GCSE coursework. Then there is lacrosse, netball, Fulham FC, and other stuff I've promised not to write about to protect her privacy. It does not include Ed vs Dave. Her friends think Boris is funny, clever and therefore cool, but would be hard-pressed to name five current politicians. Ought they get the vote? If you think not, why should Scottish 16-year-olds help decide whether the Union should be saved?

PS: The mullet? I was 20!