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to be concerned about 16- and 17- year-olds being able to vote in the Scottish Independence referendum?

(84 Posts)
Foibles Mon 15-Oct-12 20:05:16

My son (17) has just brought home a school magazine written by his fellow sixth formers. It has Alex Salmond on the front page, his arm round the magazine's 'politics writer', a boy who is a fervent supporter of Scottish Independence, and who has written the leading article. A lot of space is devoted to the arguments in favour of Scottish Independence, which are very enthusiastically put, but lip-service is also paid to the Unionist side.

The front page article about independence continues inside the mag, where there is also an interview with Alex Salmond. In another piece a teacher gives his own pro-Independence views.

These young people are living in interesting times, and it is important that they engage fully with this debate.

AIBU to be concerned that these people are not getting the full picture?

Foibles Mon 15-Oct-12 20:07:01

I get the impression that a lot of the teachers are in favour of independence too. Presumably they wouldn't try to influence the children, but they are in an ideal position to do so if they wanted to, aren't they?

In a school newspaper there is no obligation to put more than one side of an argument, especially if there is no-one who is willing to speak up for the opposing point of view.

If my son had not bought the mag and brought it home, I would never have known about this. But are young people of this age capable of making up their own minds whatever the teachers and senior pupils say?

deleted203 Mon 15-Oct-12 20:07:38

No, YANBU. But presumably they can't vote til 18? I think the best you can do (if you are anti Scottish independence) is to give your 17 year old son your reasons for your views and let him make his own mind up.

MissAnnersley Mon 15-Oct-12 20:10:57

I think they are capable of making up their own minds aged 16 and 17. After all, they are allowed to get married and make other 'big' decisions'.

I am interested in your impression that the teachers in his school are in favour of independence. What makes you think this?

McHappyPants2012 Mon 15-Oct-12 20:11:33

Yabu, I think every one over the age of 16 should be able to vote.

I find it strange that you are legally over the age of consent to be sex at 16 get pregnant and have a baby, yet you can't vote for that babies future

Waswondering Mon 15-Oct-12 20:15:09

sowornout - 16 and 17 yos WILL be able to vote in the referendum - that was agreed today.

HoratiaWinwood Mon 15-Oct-12 20:15:21

The best argument against that I have heard is that the losers will be able to challenge the legitimacy of a close result.

The second best is that other countries which have tried lowering the voting age have brought it back up again. It doesn't improve engagement.

As for the school's actively promoting a vote for one side ... I'm torn. Absolutely not for a parliamentary election. But if there were a referendum for something that I felt very strongly about, say lowering the abortion time limit, I would want my child to be shown mainly one side of the argument. I couldn't in all conscience give equal weight to the other side. Some things just have a right and wrong. And the teachers may think this is one of those issues.

WildWorld2004 Mon 15-Oct-12 20:15:38

I was pregnant & had my own house when i was 17 & i think 16/17 year olds should have the vote.

I do think that if they are going to be discussing it in school they should be given the arguements for both sides.

maybenow Mon 15-Oct-12 20:16:38

I think 16 yr olds should be able to vote in this (as they will be) and also in all elections... they are more than capable of making their minds up just as well as anybody who is middle aged and reads their own national newspaper which reflects their own opinions and political views. I don't imagine the coverage in the Sun or Record will be any more 'unbiased' twhichever way they choose to stand than this school magazine.

The lack of turnout among voters in this country is depressing, and at least young people usually have opinions and ideals and are sometimes less jaded than us oldies.

And I don't believe anybody can tell a 16 or 17 year old what to believe or do or say...

MrsKeithRichards Mon 15-Oct-12 20:22:34

I think it's great that they'll be able to vote.

Foibles Mon 15-Oct-12 20:32:17

MissAnnersley, I think it's the tone of the Parents' evenings, as well as the teachers (two) who have actually said what they think, in class, to my son and his classmates - last year, when they were 15/16.

Maybenow, maybe what makes it different in school is that there is a power relationship involved. A teacher might make his/her views known and/or openly favour those kids who agree. Since these teachers have to mark the students' tests and write their references, might it not be a little worrying if they disagree with their politics?

I am a teacher, btw, and while I know most of us have far too much integrity and are too professional to do something like that, there's still a nagging worry at the back of my head ...

maybenow Mon 15-Oct-12 20:50:16

I agree to some extent Foibles and I actually think the politics teachers should be coming up with a code of conduct for themselves in relation to this, in fact it would be a very useful exercise.. I work in the public sector and we have a ban on any political discussion at work in the run up to an election.

However, I do think that about as many students would vote against anything a teacher tells them than would vote with whatever a teacher says.

The ballot box is secret for a reason.

MissAnnersley Mon 15-Oct-12 20:53:13

You have encountered or detected a political tone at parents' evening?

How very odd indeed.

MamaMary Mon 15-Oct-12 20:55:06

I'm a bit cynical as to why Alex Salmond wants 16 and 17 year olds to vote. He probably thinks they're more likely want independence, being more likely to be nationalistic and idealistic: young people often are.

Annunziata Mon 15-Oct-12 20:58:09

I'm not against 16 and 17 year olds voting exactly, but I'm quite cynical about why Salmond wants them to vote in the referendum.

Yama Mon 15-Oct-12 21:00:55

I have always thought that the voting age should be lowered to 16.

JollyJackOLantern Mon 15-Oct-12 21:11:23

My sisters were taught in Modern Studies that independence would be a terrible idea, that Scotland would be screwed financially, that it was much better to be governed by Westminster. They were also told by an MSP that it would be a terrible idea for 16 year olds to get the vote because they were not mature enough to make decisions.

Teachers can't help but put across their points of view. I will be encouraging my child to look at party policies before he chooses who to vote for. We're a long way off that yet.

I would suggest that you point your son in the direction of Yes Scotland and Better Together to read the arguments being made by both sides.

SamuelWestsMistress Mon 15-Oct-12 21:29:55

I'm not a hugely political person and since being able to vote I have voted for Labour, Lib Dem and Conservative. However, I hated Alex Salmond at 16 and I still hate him now, so I'm confident there will be others the same! The only reason he's done it is to get more yes votes from the most easily influential age group.

I'm dreading it because I really believe it's going to go in favour and then it's going to be down hill from there but nothing anyone can do about it. Terrifying thought.

JollyJackOLantern Mon 15-Oct-12 21:33:43

Votes at 16 is an SNP policy and has been as long as I can remember.

MrsKeithRichards Mon 15-Oct-12 22:06:30

I was taught by a teacher that nobody speaks to you from a vacuum. Everyone has an agenda or a stance for their own reasons (I know that sounds extreme but you know what I mean).

It's what makes people interesting.

Unless they are dictators I wouldn't worry. Have an open discussion, watch the news, talk about what's happening, tell your son your views, challenge his. I love all that!

MrsKeithRichards Mon 15-Oct-12 22:10:06

I remember being very politically aware (no alliances at that point ) at school. Not just politically but just news in general. I thought it was normal to watch the news, read papers and talk about things at home. I was shocked to realise at high school that loads of kids were totally unaware of what was going on in the world.

Even more shocked that there's adults like that too although I'm guessing news is a bit harder to avoid now.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Mon 15-Oct-12 22:13:33

Yabu. If you are old enough to legally marry and have children, you are old enough to vote.

Votes at 16 has always been an SNP policy, this is not some cynical attempt to manipulate results. In fact, evidence shows the majority may well vote against independence, so well done to Salmond for sticking to his principles and not selling out.

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Mon 15-Oct-12 22:15:04

The problem isn't the voting age, it's the fact that from the sounds of it, these teenagers aren't getting a balanced picture. I think if they are going to give them the vote then they need to actively educate both sides of the debate. They are still in education, so if they are capable of being responsible with the vote, the schools should educate them properly.

EdithWeston Mon 15-Oct-12 22:27:12

I think it is important that it's an issue kept out of schools, for teachers may unduly sway classes (similar to personal religious beliefs being kept out of classrooms, with much greater potential for mudslinging over any possible allegations of impropriety).

The snag to me is the general trend that the younger the voter, the less likely they are to vote. That might be outweighed by the novelty factor here, but if it is not then the effect will be to lower turn out figures overall and thus leave the question more vulnerable to re-opening. I think that would be detrimental on something of this importance.

But it is a question that was rightly left to Scottish representatives to decide, for it it the Scottish people are the ones whose future is being determined.

twooter Mon 15-Oct-12 22:41:07

The prospect of an independent Scotland terrifies me. I suspect more 16 and 17 years old will vote for independence, because they do not have the life experience to think of the bigger picture regarding economy, defence etc, etc.

As I said on the other thread, the proposition is meaningless if the final deal is not already on the table - it's like agreeing a price on a house, without knowing how big it is.

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