Lib Dems push again to give 16/17 year olds vote in council elections

A Lib Dem press release brings the news:

The Liberal Democrats have called on the Government to reverse their decision to restrict 16 year olds from voting in local elections.

Liberal Democrat peer John Shipley has tabled a motion in the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill that will be debated on Tuesday as the Bill begins ping pong between the Commons and the Lords.

The motion will be called to a vote as the Lib Dems continue to fight the Tories on the issue following a series of Government defeats in recent months.

Ahead of the vote Paul Tyler, Liberal Democrat Political Reform Spokesperson, has said:

“Young people must have a say in how their lives and the communities they live in are run.

“The Government continues to discriminate based on where you live, young people in Scotland were given a vote on their future yet their Welsh and English counterparts are denied the same rights.

“We complain that younger generations are not engaging with politics and then we shut them out of the system. The Government needs to think again.

“Whilst the Tories are continuing to resist expanding the franchise, the Lib Dems will not stop fighting to give young people the voice they deserve.”


On 15th July the House of Lords voted to give 16 and 17-year olds the vote at local government elections. The Government has removed this amendment in the Commons. Liberal Democrats are fighting to ensure that this provision stays in the Bill.

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martin mullaney
martin mullaney

This obsession by our Lib Dem leaders to give the vote to 16 and 17 years is what makes our party look ridiculous.

Let’s look at the facts:

- 16 and 17 year olds can't purchase alcohol from an off-license

- 16 and 17 year olds can't go into a pub, unless accompanied by an adult

- 16 and 17 year olds can't purchase or appear in pornographic publications - and this includes Page 3 of The Sun

- 16 and 17 year olds can't fight on the front line of the army - they can join the army at 16 years old, but won't be sent on front line servies.

- 16 year olds aren't allowed to drive

I am happy to maintain the above age limits because I believe 16 and 17 year olds are not adults. For me, the last sign of membership of adulthood is the vote.

Give 16 and 17 year olds the vote, and all of the above age restrictions will be reduced to 16 years old. Do we really want to do that to happen?

.....and before anyone starts sprouting nonsense about young people being allowed to vote for their future, then give the vote to 5 year old or 10 year olds as well. Let them vote on their future as well?


@martin mullaney There are reasonable arguments against lowering the voting age, but they're mostly about consistency and basically none of them are very important. Is it the end of the world if someone can vote before they can drive? Not really.

The arguments in favour of lowering the voting age however really mean something: the prize up for grabs is priceless. Voter engagement and democratic renewal. Vote at 16 gives kids / young adults the opportunity to think about politics at an age when they're at least as likely to do so as any other. Voting seems to be a habit, and by not getting people into the habbit while we have the opportunity to do so, we re hollowing out democracy.

Lowering the voting age is also not just a gimic or an appeal to a special interest. It's a principled and practical part of an important part of Lib Dem political philosphy: opening power up, including people, giving people power over their own lives, trusting people.

Lowering the voting age is a brilliant idea we should proudly champion.

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