Sunday, April 11, 2010

Were we too hasty in extending the franchise to newspaper columnists with the initials SS?

Sarah Sands' suggestion in the Independent on Sunday that the voting age should be raised to 25 is, I suspect, carefully calibrated to sound tongue-in-cheek when in truth she probably would be quite happy not just to block votes at 16, but to see a return to the pre-1969 age of 21. Her reasoning is so laughable that, when you think about it for a moment, perhaps we ought to urgently reconsider whether she has demonstrated sufficient 'maturity' to warrant her right to vote...

When asked to discuss politics, a group of teenagers quickly became bored and much preferred to talk about "talent shows or football or sex". But that sounds like just about every self-respecting thirtysomething I've ever met. Voting age of 45?

A 16-year-old girl would prefer to vote for a political leader of her own gender, and reasonably close to her own age. Tut, tut, how unutterably absurd. But, wait a moment - aren't a lot of 50-year-olds quite keen on the same principle? Voting age of 60, then?

Teenagers do not seek political participation, and have "other things on their mind". (Once again, Sands seems to have sex on the brain herself.) Well, forgive me for pandering to stereotypes, but I know rather a lot of pensioners who live for nothing else but bingo and bowls. Maximum voting age of 72?

Teenagers vote more on how they feel than how they think. Well, that one really opens up a Pandora's Box - I dare say someone could whistle up some convenient psychometric 'evidence' that women of all ages are slightly more prone to that tendency than men. Back to the male-only franchise?

So by my reckoning that works out at an electorate wholly comprised of 60-71 year old men, pretty much guaranteeing perpetual Tory rule. Which should suit Sands rather well, because (reading not too far between the lines) her main problem with teenagers having the vote is that they display an infuriating reluctance to vote Conservative. Now, that'll never do, will it?

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