Should 16-17 year olds be allowed to vote in the general election?
- Young people unaware of who their local councillor are
- Teachers not confident to educate students on politics
- University professor labels Citizenship as a ‘Cinderella’ class
- Voting an adult responsibility but other laws still legal age of 18
Professor Jonathan Tonge, academic in the Department of Politics Studies at the University of Liverpool has expressed that lowering the voting age would be a ‘massive’ responsibility for 16-17 years olds.
Professor Jonathan Tonge
(Image: University of Liverpool)
Prof Tonge, Director of Postgraduate Research in Politics is also former Chair of the British Youth Citizenship Commission.
In an interview, he told us more about his former role as Chair of YCC:
I was chair of the YCC (British Youth Citizenship Commission) in 2008-09.
We were challenged to promote youth participation in the political process and to educate youth in citizenship.
We primarily focused on young people aged 11-19 from disadvantaged populations. We would help them develop the concepts of citizenship”
(Chair Dr Andrew Mycock and participants Professor Jon Tonge, Professor Gerry Stoker, Jonathan Birdwell and Marc Kidson answering questions from students at an 2014 Youth Citizenship Commission event)
We have considered whether the voting age should be lowered to 16 after exploring how the government could be more responsive to youth needs.”
The University Director has also published 14 books and dozens of journal articles on various aspects of British and Irish politics.
In an article published in 2013 by the BBC, the academic explained why Liverpool never loved Margaret Thatcher.
by Hayes MKII
“Citizenship today is a ‘Cinderella’ class, no wonder why students struggle to engage in political activity.
I feel the issue is how young people define Citizenship, some are eve unaware of who their local councillor are!
Why is there not a GCSE option in politics yet? It’s probably because teacher’s don’t feel confident enough to teach pupils on the political process.
We need to empower young people and improve their knowledge on politics in the UK, this currently remains as an outside class activity.”
Young people lack understanding of the political process in the UK
Eleanor Cuthbert-Edkins, former student at Arthur Terry Secondary School told us her experience of learning Citizenship at GCSE:
“Citizenship was a complete waste of time, the lesson was disjointed because we use to have a different teacher each week and 80% of our lessons would be watching videos. It was a bit of a ‘doss’ really, I felt like I walked away having not learned much.”
University academic Jonathan Tonge said that the majority of his BA and Postgraduate politics students are against lowering the voting age to 16.
The Politics Studies degree at the University of Liverpool has seen an increase in applications over recent years.
Impressed by the overwhelming demand, Jonathan added:
Our politics degree has been in high demand over recent years but it’s unfair for these young people wanting to pursue a career in this subject having to pay such high tuition fees.
I think that political parties use tuition fees as a way of gaining votes from young people 18+ who are thinking of going to University.
It will be interesting to see who wins this year’s general election and whether our future MP will keep to his promises.”
Ed Miliband, leader of the Labour party has pledged that they will lower the voting age to 16 if Labour is to win the next general election.
Two teenagers have debated on the issue of whether the voting age should be lowered,published in The Guardian. One student claimed that ‘uncertainty’ is the reason as to why the law hasn’t been changed yet, people don’t believe youngsters are ‘mature’ enough to vote.
Do you think that the voting age should be lowered to 16? Tweet us @Bhameastside and don’t forget to use the hashtag #BRUMVOTE