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Election 2017: Havering teenagers dealt blow in fight to vote

PUBLISHED: 11:58 09 May 2017 | UPDATED: 11:58 09 May 2017

Some of the members of Havering Youth Council, (standing from left to right), Victor Sarpong MYP, Daisy Robins, Annie Thorogood, Toby Adelowo and (sitting from left) Darian Harper, Eddie O’Sullivan MYP and Darnell Stewart. Picture: Havering Council.

Some of the members of Havering Youth Council, (standing from left to right), Victor Sarpong MYP, Daisy Robins, Annie Thorogood, Toby Adelowo and (sitting from left) Darian Harper, Eddie O’Sullivan MYP and Darnell Stewart. Picture: Havering Council.

Havering Council

Teenagers around the borough were dealt a crushing blow when the government announced it had no plans to change the voting age in elections.

The decision came in response to a parliament petition where 14,638 people urged the government to review the law in giving 16 and 17-year-olds the right to vote.

Last week, members of Havering Youth Council met to discuss the issue.

“If you can fight for your country at 16, why can’t you vote for who is running it,” said deputy chair Daisy Robins, 14.

Member Darian Harper, 14, added: “The voices of [teenagers aged 16 and 17] are excluded from politics by the older generation. “It’s our future as well as theirs, why don’t we get a choice?”

In the UK, 16-year-olds can register but not vote until 18. They can smoke, win the lottery, have sex, get a job and pay taxes.

At 17, youngsters can also drive.

Member Darnell Stewart, 15, added: “Sixteen-year-olds should have the opportunity to vote because they are citizens of the country and their voice deserves to be heard.”

But the government’s petition response stated: “This government has supported young people being given the chance to have their voices heard in many other ways, from having a Youth Parliament through to gaining the views of children and young people on specific areas of legislation.”

Andrew Rosindell, Conservative candidate for Romford added: “I personally think 18 is the right age. You can reduce it to 15 and 16, where do you stop?

“Eighteen is the age to make responsible decisions.

“I haven’t really heard a compelling argument to lower it.”

According to the Votes at 16 Coalition, there are more than 1.5 million 16 and 17-year-olds being denied the vote in the UK.

The coalition is made up of young people, organisations and a network of politicians.

Following 2015’s general election and before the dissolution of this government, 268 cross-party MPs, 332 members of the House of Lords, 12 MEPs, 129 members of the Scottish parliament, 32 assembly members, and 50 members of the legislative assembly, backed the campaign.

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