In an interview in today's Telegraph, Harriet Harman has again suggested that children of 16 should be given the vote. Here's the reason she gave:
"My concern is that there's a generation of young people who are never going to get into the voting habit," she said. "We've got citizenship classes going on in schools... If people come straight out of the citizenship class into the polling station then there's continuity and that might be an opportunity for them to get the habit of voting."This is dishonest. It would also create the absurd situation wherein children of 16 and 17 years of age would be deemed capable of voting, but not of deciding whether or not they should continue at school.
Miss Harman, who is one of the Cabinet ministers responsible for constitutional reform, gives the clearest sign yet that the Government is seriously considering allowing 16-year-olds to vote.
"There's a democratic imperative to increase turnout because democracy lacks legitimacy if there's a dwindling number of people participating in it," she said.
In fact, Labour is considering this change because they calculate that younger voters would be more likely to vote for them than for any other party. This is gerrymandering. Enthusiasm among voters is low because they have no enthusiasm for contemporary politics. Voting for the least bad is not an invigorating prospect if all seem equally and irredeemably bad. Granting the vote to children will not help this.
Gerrymandering is perhaps the most serious offence anyone could commit in a democracy. But there is a place for such people.