Teenagers are more politically aware than you think

I would just like to respond to Edward Lee’s article (Straight Talking, October 10th).

Sunday, 26th October 2014, 9:00 pm
The issue young people face is the fact that older people dont realise how much young people want a voice

He says he does not think 16 and 17-year-olds are “adult enough” to know about what is going on in the world – I do not find that plausible considering I am reading the Colne Times and regularly watch the news.

“It is hard enough to get those aged 26, 27 or even older to exercise their franchise,” he says.

What exactly does he mean by this quote? Is he generalising the population of young people based on someone aged late 20s onwards? Is he implying young people aged 16 and 17 don’t care enough to vote even though many decisions made will affect us?

Sign up to our daily Burnley Express Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

As he correctly said, you can legally get married and have a child at 16. However, he missed many other things out. Such as: work full time, pay taxes, leave home and join the armed forces.

The UK Government can make decisions on all these areas, yet young people still remain powerless to influence the decisions through casting a vote.

Many 16 and 17-year-olds also pay income tax or national insurance contributions, yet have no say on how their money is spent. For example, in 2005 to 2006, 16 to 17-year-olds paid around £47 million in taxes. The UK Government is spending young people’s tax contributions, yet they don’t have a say on what it is spent on.

May I also go back to my point about 16-year-olds joining the Armed Forces, yet having no right to vote. According to the Child Soldier’s Coalition in 2004, between 6,000 and 7,000 under 18s were serving in the Armed Forces.

Many people are becoming apathetic, due to politicians deceiving the public and also due to consensus politics. An older generation that have seen the collapse of the mining industry are happy to leave a country with a left-wing government such as the Labour Party, creating more debt for young people in the United Kingdom, more unemployment nationally. It is a fact that Labour have never left government with fewer unemployed than when first entering government.

I also find his comment regarding the demographics of those who voted in the Scottish referendum naive. Why wouldn’t 16 and 17-year-olds want to chose what happens to their country? It affects them more than if affects someone aged 60, 70 or 80.

The issue young people face is the fact that older people don’t realise how much young people want a voice, how much decisions affect us and the fact we are the ones who have to work for the country to get us out of debt.

Who does A-Level reform affect? Sixteen to 18-year-olds!

As a former member of youth parliament for Pendle, I do feel the article only represents an older generation.

I do not think I speak on behalf of myself alone. I think many 16 and 17-year-olds will agree with many of the points I made.

Finally, if young people were not interested in politics and voting, there wouldn’t be youth district councils and a UK youth parliament. Young people are overlooked by the media and all governments.

Laurence Ridge