Our MPs will soon vote on whether or not to allow 16 and 17 year olds to participate in the European Union membership referendum. Email sent via writetothem.com.
Dear Eleanor Laing,
I am writing to you as one of your constituents to ask you to vote in favour of 16 and 17 year olds being able to take part in any forthcoming European Union membership referendum.
The result of the referendum isn’t one which could be easily overturned by domestic elections so is likely to be binding for decades to come. I feel that as many people as possible who will be affected by the result should be given the opportunity to participate.
There is an argument that young people aren’t politically aware enough to take part. However, people can join the Armed Forces at 16 years old (albeit in a non-front line capacity until they’re 18) and are expected to serve until they are at least 22 years old. That implies that the Armed Forces are confident that 16 year olds have enough awareness of international politics and foreign policy to support their government in a potentially frontline role for at least four years.
There’s also an argument that young people aren’t politically engaged. I think that the large participation of young people in political campaigns and protests disproves this. It is true that a worryingly large amount of young people are disengaged from parliamentary politics but, as the recent Scottish Independence referendum indicates, that can be changed if young people are given the option to take part in a vote which they see will have a real, concrete impact. Ultimately that increased engagement can only be good for politics, both at the ballot box and beyond.
For these reasons I urge you to vote to support the inclusion of 16 and 17 year olds in the European Union membership referendum.