Labour 'will commit to giving 16-year-olds the vote in manifesto'
Vice-chairman says Ed Miliband may make extending franchise an election issue
Labour is preparing to include a commitment to lowering the voting age to 16 in its next general election manifesto as a way of engaging teenagers in the political process, one of Ed Miliband’s key allies has indicated.
Michael Dugher, a party vice chairman, disclosed that Labour was "actively considering" the move following last month's announcement that 16- and 17-year-olds will be allowed to take part in the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence.
The issue has been added to the agenda of Labour's policy review which will pave the way to its next manifesto. Mr Dugher argued the need for action to re-engage the public of all ages in the electoral system was underlined by the 15 per cent turn-out in last week's contests for Police and Crime Commissioners.
Although opinion on lowering the age is divided within Labour ranks, Mr Miliband has previously stated his personal backing for the move, which is also supported by the Liberal Democrats. It is opposed by the Tories who say the current franchise age of 18 is in line with most western democracies. Mr Dugher said lowering the age would be a move towards ensuring all sections of society had a stake in the country. "Many young people are the ones bearing the brunt of the harsh economic climate. Extending the vote to 16 and 17 year olds would give them a tangible way of expressing their views," he wrote in an article in today's Yorkshire Post. "Young people need a say as their future is synonymous with the future of the country as a whole. "The crisis of youth unemployment risks creating a generation that is disengaged from the economy, from society and from politics, a generation that believes they have no stake in the country." Mr Dugher, a shadow minister without portfolio, said: "Labour is determined to open up politics and that is why we plan to seriously look at the possibility of votes at 16 in our policy review, which is set to inform Labour's election manifesto in 2015."
Lord Adonis, a policy adviser to Mr Miliband, is even floating the idea of setting up polling stations in secondary schools on general election days. In a new book, Education, Education, Education, the former Cabinet minister calls for initiatives to encourage teenagers to "become citizens and to value democracy".
He says: "More should be expected of them and more responsibility accorded to them in their schools and lives. At the age of 16 they should be treated as citizens – young and maturing citizens – and be given the vote with a polling-station in every secondary school on election-day." Senior politicians on both sides of the argument over lowering the age agree the Scottish move could have a knock-on effect for Westminster elections. The issue has not been discussed at Westminster since 2005, when a Private Members' Bill in support of the move was narrowly defeated by MPs.
Dorries told to 'build bridges'
Nadine Dorries is heading for a showdown with local Tory activists after being ordered to "build bridges" to secure re-admittance to the party.
Nadine Dorries lost the Tory whip after leaving Britain to appear on I'm A Celebrity ...Get Me Out Of Here! She was summoned to a meeting with the Chief Whip, Sir George Young, who told her she would not be readmitted to the Parliamentary Conservative Party unless she managed to "build bridges". Ms Dorries said afterwards: "I think we will be fine with the whip."
- 1 Astrological signs are almost all wrong, as movement of moon and sun throws out zodiac
- 2 Dad eats daughter's weed brownies, thinks he's had a stroke
- 3 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 4 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 5 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
Germanwings captain Patrick Sondenheimer tried to break into locked cockpit door 'with an axe' as plane was descending
Amanda Knox murder conviction: Italian court overturns verdict for US student and Raffaele Sollecito in the killing of Meredith Kercher
Saudi Arabia says it won't rule out building nuclear weapons
The battle for the Middle East's future begins in Yemen as Saudi Arabia jumps into the abyss
Jeremy Clarkson 'could be given minder' ahead of a potential Top Gear return
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Germanwings plane crash: Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz wanted to 'do something people would remember him for'
£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...
£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...
£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...