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Thursday, July 18, 2019

Tory hypocrisy over votes for 16 and 17 year olds

It was not so long ago that I berated the then Secretary of State for Wales in the Welsh Assembly chamber over the failure of the UK Government to allow 16 and 17 year olds to vote in the EU referendum. My argument was that the 2016 referendum was more about their future than my own and that they should have a say in it.

Alas, the Tories have failed to follow the example of Scotland, and soon, Wales, in allowing 16 and 17 year olds to vote, effectively disenfranchising a group of citizens who could well be paying tax, are allowed to marry and join the armed forces and are treated as adults in the criminal justice system.

That, I suppose is their right. They are sticking to their own beliefs and policies. Or are they? As this article in the Independent reports, under-18s are helping to pick the next Tory leader and prime minister.

The paper says that Conservatives offer membership to people aged under 23 for just £5 a year – with “full voting rights” given to any members aged 15 or over. Jeremy Hunt has even released a video featuring a 17-year-old Conservative member who had cast his vote in the leadership race to “battle that stereotype that our age group are uninformed”.

In addition there are a string of local Tory websites saying that there is “no upper or lower age limit on membership, although children under the age of 15 cannot be enrolled as full voting members”.

Just how hypocritical this is can be gauged from the fact that a cross-party bill to lower the UK voting age failed in the Commons in 2017 after Tory MPs were accused of talking it out. Successive Conservative prime ministers have spoken out against change, with Theresa May saying: “You have to pick a point at which you think it is right for the voting age to be. I continue to think it is right for it to be 18.”

And, last year, her de-facto deputy, David Lidington, told MPs that under-18s lacked the “maturity and responsibility” required to vote.

One rule for the Tories, another for the rest of us, I suppose.

The Tories are about power, for themselves. They will 'bend the rules' if it suits them and hide the fact for as long as they can get away with it.
This duplicity of 2 standards should be more widely recognised to expose their hypocrisy.
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