Electoral Commission urges England and Wales to follow Scotland in political emancipation of 16-year-olds


Research carried out for the Electoral Commission has concluded:

‘This newly published research supports the assertion that if people vote early in life, they keep voting in later life.’ 

This evidence that early voting leads to greater engagement later and a consequent increase in the overall quality of a democracy is the main basis for the Commission’s recommendation that Westminster and Cardiff should follow the Scottish example.

The researchers used data from the Scottish independence referendum as their starting point:

‘A survey commissioned by the Electoral Commission following the Scottish Independence Referendum (in which 16 and 17-year-olds were entitled to vote) found that an impressive 75% had taken part.  The figure is doubly impressive given the fact this was the first time anyone within that group would have voted.  The survey also rubbished the lazy assumption that because voter turnout has been low among 18 to 24-year-olds then it will be similarly low among 16 and 17-year-olds. The claimed turnout among the former group was just 54% by comparison. The fact that 16 and 17-year-olds voted in large numbers in the Scottish Independence referendum shows that given the chance, those under 18 will exercise their democratic right.’  

However, they add the results of research carried out in 2015 to make the important point that this experience seems likely to have had a lasting impact:

‘New research now supplemented this finding by providing evidence that not only will they vote, but that it is highly likely they will continue to vote and be more politically engaged as a result. Through a survey carried out in February 2015 (after the Scottish Independence Referendum in 2014) it was found that 67% of 16 and 17-year-olds in Scotland indicated they would likely vote if allowed to do so in the General Election, compared to just 39% south of the border.  Furthermore, while 57% of Scottish respondents said they had taken part in at least one form of non-electoral political engagement, only 40% of 16 and 17-year-olds from the rest of the UK reported the same.’ 


This comes as no surprise to me, based on admittedly anecdotal, but quite numerous, reports from young voters I met in Ayr, in the years after the Referendum.


5 thoughts on “Electoral Commission urges England and Wales to follow Scotland in political emancipation of 16-year-olds

  1. Bugger (the Panda) January 29, 2018 / 12:11 pm

    One bit of info today I heard on the Radio was that in GE 201&, Corbyn did not galvanise the 18+ cohort. he won on the late 20s to 30s, who he tempted from elsewhere

    Liked by 2 people

  2. John January 29, 2018 / 3:58 pm

    Youngsters didn’t turn out in their thousands to support Corbyn , however it was PERCEVED they had by all the hype Corbyn stirred up , more fake news !


  3. Ludo Thierry January 29, 2018 / 6:54 pm

    Good to see wales following Scotland’s example in extending franchise to 16 +17 yr olds (for Welsh Local Elections currently). Funny how the beeb Wales site can print perfectly normal, informative and neutral info on Welsh politics. There is a good piece today re. the Welsh Minister Mark Drakeford visiting H of L with Mike Russell and retired diplomat Sir Emyr Jones Parry to brief Peers. No little ‘digs’ appearing in the text, no lunatical quotes from extremist britnats, no commentary from ‘Political Editors’ passing remarks on ‘grievance culture’ or similar phraseology – Simply reporting the facts – it is so refreshing to read this sort of piece (see snippets below):

    Brexit: Welsh minister’s ‘frustration’ over Tory rows
    Tory party rows over Brexit mean important issues are being “forced down the agenda”, a Welsh minister has said.
    Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford said the failure of UK ministers to allay Welsh fears of a “power grab” raised questions about their ability to negotiate Brexit with 27 EU nations.
    The EU (Withdrawal) Bill dealing with laws returning from Brussels to the UK goes to the House of Lords on Tuesday.
    UK ministers have said efforts are ongoing to get consensus on the detail.
    Mr Drakeford will travel to the Lords on Monday to brief peers on his concerns along with Scottish Brexit Secretary Mike Russell, Welsh Government officials and former diplomat Sir Emyr Jones Parry.
    “This is a problem of the UK government’s own making,” Mr Drakeford said.
    “We have offered them many ways of getting out of the problem they have created and sometimes it’s frustrating that they take too long to come to that.
    “The frustration is that things that really do matter to the United Kingdom find themselves forced down the agenda by putting priority on the needs of the Conservative party.
    “They’re struggling to have a proper conversation with us – then having a conversation with 27 other members of the European Union in a far more complex set of negotiations.
    “At the very least, it points up the challenge of doing that.”

    Since Mark Drakeford introduced the topic of ‘internal UK diplomacy’ there was clearly some good work from Nicola, and Fergus and their Manx opposite numbers in rapidly clearing the problems with access to the Manx scallop fisheries. In the bad old pre Council of the Isles days this sort of issue would have to be ‘handled’ by Westminster Ministers – and would have taken years to come forward for any sort of consideration – the fisheries would have been lost along with the jobs and businesses. See snippet from beeb Manx+Scotland pages below:

    Scrapping of Isle of Man scallop catch rule ‘a relief’
    The Manx government has scrapped a new rule covering scallop fishing less than two weeks after it was introduced.
    Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon held talks with Manx authorities last week amid mounting concerns from Scottish fishermen.
    Scottish Fisheries Secretary Fergus Ewing welcomed the new arrangements and said the decision will help protect the country’s £3m scallop industry.
    He said the decision was “a relief to many of our coastal communities, who were detrimentally affected by the changes”

    These good ‘diplomacy’ skills being developed will be useful as we come to negotiate the position of an Indy Scotland in EU (EFTA?) and other Treaty bodies.

    Liked by 1 person

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