Manifestos are launched, key points are highlighted – and the media caravan moves on. This series turns a spotlight on the Conservative Manifesto and returns to policy announcements that some will have missed.
This site knows a Cabinet Minister who privately supports votes at 16. So will others of the new Conservative Parliamentary Party. But the manifesto gnomically declares as follows: “We will maintain the voting age at 18 – the age at which one gains full citizenship rights.”
Why? One might have thought that Downing Street and CCHQ, with their sensitivity to the Party’s electoral problems with younger voters, would frown on so uncompromising a stand.
There seems to be a reason both for the decision and for the Tory powers-that-be being tight-lipped about it. In the event of a hung Parliament or one with a small Conservative majority, there could well be push for votes at 16 – which might then be rushed through into law just as an election approaches.
Our reading is that a decision was made to make any such move as difficult for Conservative MPs to endorse as possible by writing a clear commitment to keeping votes at 18.
Needless to say, there are reasons of principle as well as practice. The Tory consensus remains that “the age at which one gains full citizenship rights” is the most natural point at which to maintain the voting age.