Tag:

Westminster

Should younger teenagers get the vote?

As I watch BBC’s Question Time tonight, I rejoice in an audience packed with young people.

These days that’s a great sight to see – many young people taking part in the country’s top political discussion programme. Politics frankly is such a turn-off to most young people today.

I’ve always thought my children know a lot about politics as we discuss issues at home frequently. My smugness about this was quickly dispersed this week when one of my children asked me first – what is democracy? And second – how do you get to become an MP? The fact was that she hadn’t even grasped the one key feature in the answer to both of these questions – the vote.

What messages have your family given you about voting?

What messages have your family given you about voting?

I have always voted – I’m not going to tell you who I’ve voted for, except to say I’ve not always voted for the same political party. I was brought up in a family where it would have been absolutely scandalous not to use that right. The view was always – don’t complain about the government if you’ve not bothered to cast your vote.

My grandad, who passed away in 1994 at the age of 88, went further. He used to tell me that people died for the vote for women and we should honour that fact. He lived through times of political turmoil and horror – WW1, the 1926 General Strike and WW2. He worked in a dangerous and vital industry – coal mining. He was a big, generous-hearted, hard drinking man who could barely read. But it was him who took his bass drum around the local villages in Somerset to let them know that WW2 was over. (His drum is now in Radstock Museum).

Back to the vote. I don’t live in Somerset any more but my adopted home of Wiltshire boasts a proud heritage around the suffragettes who marched through Marlborough. One of the leading suffragettes, Edith New, was a school teacher from Swindon. She was the first person to protest by chaining herself to railings. She went to prison and went on hunger strike to defend her beliefs.

Scotland is allowing 16 and 17 year olds to vote when residents vote for or against independence next year. I think this is a good thing – capturing people’s imagination over politics as early as possible is important. I have some suspicion about why this is going to happen – is it because the Scottish government really want more people to vote or do they hope it will swing the vote one way or the other? Maybe that’s just the cynic in me.

We’ll see. However the day that anyone aged 16 or over can be represented will be a good day for democracy.

 

 

Gay marriage is one step closer – good or bad?

Today I find myself blogging about something which can divide opinion – it’s not an issue I struggle with myself. Gay marriage is one step closer. Thank goodness. 

I must admit that when it reached the House of Lords, I didn’t imagine that the vote would pass with such a majority. The fact that it did suggests to me that the time is right – now is the time.

There are some of you who will read this post who will feel very conflicted about gay marriage – and the definition of marriage being a union between a man and a woman.

I don’t find any conflict at all.

There will be people who will think that I cannot believe in God and support gay marriage. Well, I’m afraid and I do and I do. You can argue this biblical thing or that biblical thing but I will still stand my ground. I won’t shout my corner, I will just believe in it because I feel it’s right in my heart.

Why? Well, there are several reasons. I’ve always worked in an industry where many people are gay or bi-sexual. I’ve learned through years of having friends and colleagues who are this or that way inclined that being happy and true to yourself is so important.

Too many people in the past have hidden their true sexuality and done the ‘right’ things like get married and have children only to cause pain later on. I know at least one person personally who’s done that. What good does that do in the end?

Tell me, which one is gay? Does it matter?

Tell me, which one is gay? Does it matter?

I have friends who have been in same sex partnerships for many, many years and their relationships are fantastic. So what right do I have to say they are not entitled to be married? If that’s what they want. I’m married and I cherish the relationship.

It’s crazy to me that, only a few years ago, you could have been with your same sex partner for 20 or 30 years and, if your partner died, you could be left with nothing. Where’s the justice in that?

At the weekend I watched Lincoln and the story of the political jiggery-pokery which apparently went on when he was trying to get the 13th amendment passed which made slavery illegal. The same religious arguments were put forward then as to why slavery should stay in place. Beliefs which seem utterly disgusting now. Men who really thought that the colour of skin dictated a level of superiority and that this was dictated by God – clearly.

I wonder if our children will look back and think the same of this debate now….

Recent Comments