Unionist parties hypocrisy over 16/17 year old referendum vote exposed

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By G.A.Ponsonby
 
Unionist parties are facing accusations of hypocrisy over their stance on 16 and 17 year olds participating in the independence referendum after it emerged that MPs and MSPs voted to allow the same age group to take part in the AV referendum and supported a campaign aimed at allowing 16 year olds to vote.

By G.A.Ponsonby
 
Unionist parties are facing accusations of hypocrisy over their stance on 16 and 17 year olds participating in the independence referendum after it emerged that MPs and MSPs voted to allow the same age group to take part in the AV referendum and supported a campaign aimed at allowing 16 year olds to vote.
 
Labour politicians who voted to back the extension of voting for the AV referendum included Labour’s so called ‘Team Scotland’ – Jim Murphy, Willie Bain, Douglas Alexander and Shadow Secretary of State Margaret Curran.

The list also included Labour’s Scottish Deputy Anas Sarwar and Labour leader Ed Miliband.

Lib Dems have also endorsed votes for 16 year olds with Edinburgh Lib Dem MP Mike Crockart, Lib Dem Scottish Deputy Jo Swinson MP, Lib Dem MSPs Jim Hume and Alison McInnes backing moves.

The news follows opposition from Unionist politicians to the SNP’s proposal that 16 and 17 year olds be allowed to participate in the Scottish independence referendum in Autumn 2014.

The Lib Dems, who voted with the SNP to introduce votes at 16 in Scotland’s health board elections, also promised to lower the voting age in their 2010 manifesto.  Lib Dem Leader Nick Clegg is on record as saying “I am a big supporter of votes at 16”.

The calls from the Scottish Government to include the group in the referendum were echoed today by Andrew Deans of the Scottish Youth Parliament who said that young people were engaging with politics on key issues.

“It’s especially important in the referendum.  We believe that 16 and 17 year olds should be allowed to vote in any election or referendum.” he said.

Mr Deans added that whereas UK and Scottish elections resulted in a fixed term decision, the independence referendum would result in a decision that could last a lifetime and beyond.

The SNP today reacted to the revelations by accusing Labour and the Lib Dems of hypocrisy and urged them to support the call to allow more of Scotland’s young people to take part in the historic ballot.

Glasgow MSP Humza Yousaf said that 16 and 17 year olds in Scotland should be able to have their say over Scotland’s future.

Mr Yousaf who is the SNP’s youngest MSP said: “16 and 17 year olds are already on the electoral roll and they play a part in our society.  They should be allowed to vote.

“Attaching strings to Scotland’s referendum is simply not acceptable.  The referendum should be decided by the Scottish people and the Scottish parliament.

“It is utterly hypocritical of Labour who supported the right of 16 and 17 year olds to vote in the AV referendum to now back the Tories and Lib Dems in preventing them voting on Scotland’s future.

“It is ridiculous that politicians who say they support 16 and 17 year olds having a vote in elections would not support them voting in a referendum.

“And of course Lib Dems in Scotland have already backed votes for 16 and 17 year olds as part of elections to health boards.

“The hypocrisy of the Liberal Democrats toward young people is breath taking.  First they betray them on student fees, now they betray them over their right to vote.  Nick Clegg’s words are clearly worthless.”

Mr Yousaf accused the Unionist parties of penalising 16 and 17 year olds in order to attack the SNP and added:

“It is grossly unfair those aged 16 and 17 are able to play a major part in our society, to pay taxes, join the armed forces, consent to marriage but under UK Government plans will be barred from making democratic decisions about their own future.

“All parties have accepted that the SNP has the right and mandate to hold a referendum on Scottish Independence.  The Lib Dems and Labour members have accepted that 16 and 17 year olds should be given the vote.  They should reaffirm their position, stop equivocating and ensure 16 and 17 year olds are able to vote.”

Scottish Lib Dems supporting Votes at 16:

  • Jo Swinson MP, Deputy Leader Scottish Liberal Democrats
  • Mike Crockart MP
  • Jim Hume MSP, Scottish Liberal Democrats MSP for South Scotland
  • Alison McInnes MSP, Liberal Democrat MSP for North East Scotland

Scottish Labour support for Votes at 16 Campaign:

  • Anas Sarwar, Deputy Leader of Scottish Labour
  • Margaret Curran, Shadow Scottish Secretary
  • Douglas Alexander, Shadow Foreign Secretary
  • Willie Bain, Shadow Scotland minister
  • Jim Murphy, Shadow Defence Secretary
  • Gordon Banks MP, Labour MP for Ochil and South Perthshire
  • Anne Begg MP, Labour MP for Aberdeen South
  • Russell Brown MP, Labour MP for Dumfries and Galloway
  • Katy Clark MP, Labour MP for North Ayrshire and Arran
  • Tom Clarke MP, Labour MP for Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill
  • Ian Davidson MP, Labour/Co-operative MP for Glasgow South West
  • Thomas Docherty MP, Labour MP for Dunfermline and West Fife
  • Brian Donohoe MP, Labour MP for Central Ayrshire
  • Sheila Gilmore MP, Labour MP for Edinburgh East
  • Eric Joyce MP, Labour MP for Falkirk
  • Mark Lazarowicz MP, Labour/Co-operative MP for Edinburgh North and Leith
  • Michael McCann MP, Labour MP for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow
  • Gregg McClymont MP, Labour MP for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East
  • Ian Murray MP, Labour MP for Edinburgh South
  • Pamela Nash MP, Labour MP for Airdrie and Shotts
  • John Robertson MP, Labour MP for Glasgow North West

MSPs

  • Claudia Beamish MSP, Scottish Labour MSP for South Scotland
  • Kezia Dugdale MSP, Scottish Labour and Co-op MSP for Lothian region
  • Neil Findlay MSP, Scottish Labour MSP for Lothian
  • John Park MSP, Scottish Labour MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife