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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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Welsh Labour Government Backs Votes at 16

Sunday, 22 July 2012


BUT WHERE DO SCOTTISH LABOUR STAND?

Scottish Labour have been challenged to say whether they support votes for 16 and 17 year-olds in the referendum over Scotland’s constitutional future – after the Welsh Labour government confirmed that it is in favour of lowering the voting age to 16 in all elections and referendums.

Although the Welsh Assembly has no powers to change the law, Labour Finance Minister Jane Hutt AM told the Senedd: “16 and 17-year-olds are deemed old enough to pay taxes, leave school, marry and join the armed forces, alongside a wide range of other responsibilities. Therefore, the Welsh Government supports the lowering of the voting age to 16.” (ref: http://www.assemblywales.org/" - 4th July 2012 4pm)

In Scotland, Labour MSPs and MPs, including Shadow Scotland Secretary Margaret Curran, have given their support to the Votes at 16 campaign, but the party have been silent on the franchise for the Autumn 2014 independence referendum.

Calling for clarity, SNP Westminster equality spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“With the only Labour politicians actually in government in the UK arguing for votes at 16, Johann Lamont needs to end the uncertainty around her position, and say whether Labour supports votes for 16 and 17 years-olds in the independence referendum.

“The SNP supports votes at 16 in all elections and where we have the power over Health Board Elections and even elections to the Crofting Commission we have ensured that young people have a say. 16 and 17-year-olds in Scotland must be able to have their say over Scotland’s constitutional future.

“With organisations representing thousands of young people calling for a vote in this referendum the anti-independence parties must reconsider their position.

“Labour MPs like their deputy leader Anas Sarwar backed votes at 16 in the AV referendum but want to withhold that right from young Scots in the independence referendum. Labour must explain why they are determined to stand in the way of young scots rights to a say over their future.

“Young people of this age are already on the electoral roll and they play a part in our society. It is only fair that they have their say.”

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