Search

Holborn and St Pancras MP Keir Starmer: Improve our democracy with votes at 16

PUBLISHED: 18:54 02 November 2017 | UPDATED: 18:54 02 November 2017

Holborn and St Pancras MP and Labour's shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer. Picture: NICK ANSELL/PA IMAGES

Holborn and St Pancras MP and Labour's shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer. Picture: NICK ANSELL/PA IMAGES

PA Wire/PA Images

Next year marks the 100-year anniversary since women won the right to vote.

Sir Keir Starmer MP on a school visit. Picture: YAKIR ZUR Sir Keir Starmer MP on a school visit. Picture: YAKIR ZUR

It was a ground-breaking moment in our country’s history and for our democracy. The campaign for women’s suffrage was not just a fight for fairness and equality,

It was a fight to ensure Parliament gave a voice to the communities it was there to represent – and it worked.

I honestly don’t believe we would have seen the progress we have over the past century on issues of equality – from equal pay to maternity rights – had it not been for the women’s suffrage movement, including Camden’s very own Millicent Fawcett.

But it would be wrong to say the fight for fairness in our democracy ended there.

This week MPs will have the chance to vote on the first stage of a bill that could have similar transformative consequences. One of my Labour colleagues, Jim McMahon, has introduced a bill that would give 16 and 17 year olds the right to vote.

I am a passionate believer in votes for 16 and I’m proud that it was a key plank of Labour’s manifesto at the election in June.

I know – and have heard – the arguments against this change. That it is only when we hit eighteen we reach political maturity. That it is only when we are eighteen we can make a reasoned argument for how we might choose to vote. But I don’t agree.

Since becoming an MP over two years ago I have had the opportunity to visit schools across Camden and speak to literally hundreds of young people about what needs to be done to change our community for the better.

The young people I have met are brimming with new ideas about how to improve Camden’s schools, how to tackle air pollution and how to ensure everyone has access to good mental health services.

And since last year’s referendum I have heard loud and clear from people of all ages who want a say in our country’s future after we leave the European Union.

These are some of the most exciting conversations I have had since being elected and leave me in no doubt that over 16s can be trusted to have a voice in who their MP is.

And yet it is not just an argument about trust, but fairness too.

If you can get married, have a child, start a job, pay taxes at 16 then why can’t you vote for an MP?

I believe in a political system that makes young people feel valued and recognises the positive contribution they can make. That is why I hope Parliament will back the campaign to lower the voting age.

And it is why I hope that in another 100 years we will be looking back and celebrating another milestone in improving our democracy.

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

10:30

Police are trying to trace two teenagers they believe are connected to an attempted robbery and assault on a Thameslink train from West Hampstead.

08:30

Safety campaigners fear the Hampstead community will be at risk of more crime as the number of neighbourhood police officers has been slashed.

Yesterday, 17:30

Flick Rea is a fairly unique councillor, even it comes to Camden Council.

Yesterday, 15:07

It was a case of the Liberal Democrats preaching to the converted, as they launched their elections manifesto at St James’ Church in West Hampstead last night.

Mon, 17:00

Current deputy leader Cllr Joseph Ejiofor said Claire Kober’s flagship policy “does not provide the answer” on housing in the borough.

Mon, 13:50

In voter packs delivered on Saturday, Haringey Council told residents they should only vote for one candidate, instead of three.

Mon, 12:58

A teenager is in a critical condition in hospital, and another is recovering after a stabbing near Alexandra Palace last night.

Mon, 12:00

A sniffer dog belonging to an ex-policeman turned private investigator has uncovered a haul of precious jewellery from woodland in Oak Hill Way, Hampstead.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now