Conservative voices to unite behind votes at 16

Posted on the 3rd July 2018

Conservative figures including Nicky Morgan MP and Sir Peter Bottomley MP among contributors to new pamphlet in support of extending the franchise.

  • Statement from the Electoral Reform Society.
  • For interviews or further information/comment. Contact [email protected] or 07717211630

Senior Conservative party figures will renew calls for the Prime Minister to back votes at 16 next week, in a new pamphlet for the Electoral Reform Society.

The publication – backed by the Tory Reform Group [1] – will be published three years after Scotland passed Votes at 16 for its elections, and adds momentum to demands for a ‘fairer franchise’.

The publication features:

  • Nicky Morgan MP – making a comparison between the campaign for Votes at 16 and the push for women’s suffrage a century ago.
  • Sir Peter Bottomley MP – drawing comparisons from history, including the Great Reform Acts of the nineteenth century, and citing Votes at 16 as the latest chapter in the UK’s democratic story.
  • Miles Briggs MSP – discussing the contribution of 16 and 17-year-olds in the lead up to the Scottish Independence referendum, and how it changed hearts and minds
  • Lisa Francis, former Welsh AM – asserting that Votes at 16 is a matter of “Conservative principles” and about the extension of civic duty.
  • Owen Meredith, National Chairman, Tory Reform Group – arguing that, in the context of fixed Parliamentary terms, Votes at 16 would simply lower the average age most people first voted.
  • Cecilia George, young Conservative and former MYP – remarking on the responsibilities already entrusted to 16 and 17-year-olds, in a rallying cry for fair representation.

The pamphlet will be officially launched on Tuesday, July 10, at an event with Conservative MPs in Parliament.

In Scotland, 16 and 17-year-olds can vote in all local and Scottish Parliament elections, and took part in the Scottish independence referendum.

In Wales, proposals have recently been put forward which could see 16 and 17-year-olds enjoy equivalent voting rights to their Scottish counterparts.

Currently there is no government support for extending the franchise for General Elections, but this pamphlet piles on new pressure from reforming voices in the party.

Ahead of the launch, Darren Hughes, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said:  

“British politics is becoming increasingly unpredictable, but there are some things which are becoming increasingly certain: one of those is the likelihood of 16 and 17-year-olds getting the vote across the UK. Votes at 16 is now a question of when, not if, for UK elections – not least given the reality in Scotland and Wales.

“This is a huge opportunity for whichever party takes a lead. More Conservative voices are urging their party to seize this chance and extend the civic duty to vote. Young people are ready and willing to be given this democratic responsibility.

“The Prime Minister should listen to these growing calls from her own party – they are not dying down anytime soon. It’s time to lead on this issue and build a legacy of positive reform.”

ENDS

[1] Tory Reform Group chair Owen Meredith today backs the report in a blog for TRG: https://www.trg.org.uk/national-democracy-week-time-to-extend-the-franchise-talkdemocracy/

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