Poll: Mike Gapes MP calls for voting age to be lowered

Mike Gapes, MP for Ilford South

Mike Gapes, MP for Ilford South - Credit: Archant

An MP is calling for the voting age to be dropped after backing a motion to debate the topic in Parliament.

Ilford South MP Mike Gapes wants to get more young people involved in politics by bringing the voting age down from 18 to 16.

Mr Gapes has become one of 12 MPs to sponsor an early day motion – a proposal submitted for debate in the House of Commons – which states that the “time is right to lower the voting age”.

The call comes in the aftermath of the Scottish independence referendum, which saw a high turnout – a result which the MP believes is down to Scotland’s voting age of 16.

The Labour MP said: “If you’re old enough to work, get married and drive a motor vehicle, you should be able to vote on issues that affect you.

“Young people in Scotland voted in large numbers in the referendum and I don’t think you can make the argument that they can’t make well-informed choices.”

He added: “I think that there are people that are aged 70 or 80 that would not be able to make sensible choices – there is no guarantee.”

Most Read

Mr Gapes, an advocate of Redbridge’s Youth Parliament and its members, highlighted a trend in younger people getting involved in local politics.

“I think young people are interested in politics – a lot of our councilors are in their 20s – my own ward councilors are 23 and 25,” he said.

“It’s just about getting young people involved in the political process earlier.”

He added: “Lowering the voting age will not guarantee that it will encourage young people to get involved in politics but it will make them feel that their voices are heard.”

To politically disinterested youngsters the MP said: “Politics affects everyone and all aspects of your life, from transport to police to health.

“You may not realise it but these things don’t just happen – political decisions affect everything from street cleaning to refuge collection, and young people should be a part of that process.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter