27 April 2017
The Green Party’s parliamentary candidate for Norwich South, Richard Bearman, has called for 16- and 17-year-olds to be given the vote in the forthcoming general election.
Councillor Bearman (aged 64), who is currently leader of the Green Party group on Norfolk County Council, argued that youth is no bar to a good understanding of politics.
“Many 16- and 17-year-olds are more aware of political issues than older people. In my experience of young commissioners on the Norwich Youth Advisory Board and the Norfolk in Care Council, they are more than capable of understanding the issues that affect their lives, and making a sensible judgement about what policies different candidates stand for.
“The future will affect young people most of all, so I strongly believe they should have a say in who governs us. As a county councillor I have aimed to involve young people as much as possible in the design and delivery of council services, and the ideas they offer have often been excellent.”
Cllr Bearman’s words were echoed by Norwich City councillor Martin Schmierer, whose motion in support of the principle of votes at 16 was passed unanimously by the council last year.
Cllr Schmierer explained:
“Before the age of 18, UK citizens can pay tax, join the armed forces, consent to sexual relationships, get married… but they cannot have a say on their country’s future at elections. This is simply wrong, and it’s time for the government to acknowledge the contribution that young people can make to politics.
Cllr Schmierer also urged young people eligible to vote to register by 22nd May in time for the general election.
“Young people can feel put off by a politics which does not seem to represent them, but it’s important to remember that we do have the power to change things.
“About three-quarters of a million people in the UK will have turned 18 in the year since the EU referendum. If that’s you, you now get a chance to express your view about the gamble the so-called mainstream parties are taking with your future.
“Young people can change the outcome of this election.”
On the day the general election was called, 57,987 people under 25 registered to vote – more than any other age group.