Cameron barters away the UK Constitution
It appears that a deal has been struck between UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond, setting out terms for a Scottish independence referendum, to be held in the autumn of 2014.
The whole aggreement may be read HERE. It confirms that Mr Cameron has exchanged a single Yes/No question for extending the franchise to 16 and 17-year-olds: Mr Salmond's 'Devo-Max' demand has evaporated in a tawdry constitutional quid-pro-quo.
Could the Prime Minister please explain why 16-year-olds may be trusted with the entire political future of the United Kingdom, but not with what they do with their own bodies?
Scottish 16-year-olds can’t purchase cigarettes or alcohol; they can’t drive; they can’t give blood; they can’t go on active military service.
They can’t obtain a credit card; they can’t apply for a mortgage, or own houses or land. They can't obtain a street trading licence; they can’t go abroad to act or perform music professionally; they can’t be called for jury service; can’t change their name; and can’t act as an executor of a person's will. They can’t place bets, purchase fireworks or become a local councillor.
What is the rationale for giving 126,000 Scottish 16 and 17-year-olds a vote on the irreversible break-up of the United Kingdom, when they are not deemed competent or sufficiently mature to judge a man's guilt or innocence in a court of law?
What is the rationale for extending the franchise for a constitutional one-off? How does this not amount to quite outrageous gerrymandering? Why should the constituency that elected the current First Minister not be the same as that which votes in his referendum? Surely the age group that determines his success or failure ought to be the same as that which gave him his mandate?
The Prime Minister has no right to barter with the Constitution in this fashion: it is too important a settlement to use for short-term political expediency.
Those who are insisting that no precedent will be set by lowering the voting age in this referendum clearly have no understanding of the word ‘precedent: the groups that campaign for lowering the voting age permanently are in no doubt at all that a clear precedent has now been set. Frankly, the legal age of majority is about to be lowered to 16.