Ed Miliband’s pledge to lower the voting age to 16 has been mostly overlooked, thanks to the furore over energy prices. Aside from the principle of the issue, what impact might it have on election results?
As I’ve covered previously (see here and here) there is mounting evidence that today’s young people are more right wing than their parents’ generation – certainly on issues of welfare, taxation, the deficit and individual responsibility. Being so doesn’t automatically make them Conservative voters, of course, but even that measure shows some increases. YouGov regularly find that 18-24-year-olds are the second most likely age group to vote Tory after the over 60s, and Wednesday’s poll produced the remarkable result among young people of both Labour and the Conservatives at level-pegging on 40 per cent.
Yet another example of this cropped up on Newsnight earlier in the week in a package exploring how 16- and 17-year-old voters might use their newfound power if Labour were to be elected (you can watch it below in full).
The programme asked a focus group of teenagers in the age bracket to choose where cuts should fall and where more spending should be allocated. Their first choice for the axe was the welfare bill, as a near-unanimous decision. They were even divided on whether to make savings from the pension bill.
Sure, it’s an unscientific exercise but it was remarkably in keeping with the polling evidence which shows the young becoming remarkable hawkish when it comes to the welfare state. It’s a BBC programme, so needless to say this went entirely unremarked – it’s something we should watch closely, all the same.
(video clip courtesy of liarpoliticians)