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Labour MPs to table Queen’s speech amendment for votes at 16

Labour peers and MPs are planning to table a range of amendments to the Queen’s speech. Due to the government only having a majority of 13, a rebellion of 7 Tory or DUP MPs on a specific issue would give Labour a victory.

The Queen’s Speech itself is expected to be “wafer thin”, as Andrew Gwynne put it on Sky News. While Labour are expected to table amendments on a range of issues, one in particular would give the party a huge boost if it were to pass, and that is votes at 16. 

Extending the franchise to 16 and 17 year olds has been Labour policy for a number of years, and enjoys the support of every party in Parliament aside from the Tories and the DUP. It would add up to another one and half million eligible voters to the register, and from a demographic that overwhelmingly backs Labour. YouGov’s post-election polling found that the younger voters were, the more likely they were to vote Labour. 66% of 18 and 19-year-olds were likely to back the party compared to just 19% for the  Conservatives.

The effect this would have would be very likely to swing the next election in favour of Labour. But how feasible is it?

Given all the parties bar the DUP and Tories support votes at 16, along with the independent Sylvia Hermon, that would give Labour 315 votes. Conservative MPs Huw Merriman, Sarah Wollaston,  and Peter Bottomley have all pledged their support in the past, along with DUP MPs Ian Paisley Jnr and Jeffrey Donaldson. All these MPs are backbenchers, and so wouldn’t have to resign a government position, though presumably the Tories would whip very strongly against the amendment.

If they voted in favour, Labour would have 319 votes for. That would leave 323 votes against, once the Speaker and Sinn Fein MPs are discounted from the numbers. With potential absences and a couple of swing voters, it is not unthinkable the vote could go Labour’s way.

If it did, the odds on the winner of the next General Election would tip firmly further in Labour’s favour. But if the amendment doesn’t pass, Labour must surely legislate early for wide-ranging electoral reforms – including extending voting rights to 16 and 17 year olds.

4 Comments

  1. Bill says:

    It is the right thing to extend votes to 16 year olds and I would support this even if people argued it assisted the conservatives. I also favour a two stage election. As the French system instead of PR the party should however agree at a local level that if the Green Party will not contest 20 seats in areas where Labour would stand a good chance of winning we will reciprocate. But down to CLPs to decide!

    1. Verity says:

      In the mayoral elections it was possible to see where Green votes went on second preferences. This pattern has been repeated in other elections where preference voting is shown. It is far from not clear that these were Labour voters with a Green preference. Although I would agree that their activists may be more consistent. So other than it not producing the anticipated effects what is the programme that the two parties should ask its supporters to stand down for, other than encouraging the administrative manoeuvre of its votes to another Party, of course?

      Why would any Labour candidate/CLP stand down for a Party that very rarely if ever has more votes than Labour. I think in the Isle of Wight (the Green great hope!). They came third behind Labour (17% to Labour’s 23%). Are you really asking Labour voters to be excluded from supporting a coherent and comprehensive radical programme and instead vote for a shallow programme to enable a third place candidate to look better than they currently do?

  2. Bazza says:

    1. Yes support votes at 16.
    2. A good victory for Jeremy Corbyn with the Government requisitioning 68 private flats for residents from Grenfell Tory made disaster but perhaps we need more.
    3. Not happy letter 51 Right Wing Labour MPs wanting access EC single market to be retained.
    (lie prostrate at the feet of the free movement of capital?).
    It could be suggested that they are arguing for the retention of Neo-Liberalism (and the rules that come with it) including free movement which flies in the face of the Referendum result.
    In the end we may have to pay £10b a year or so for tariff free access to the EC market (Government paying collectively rather than individual companies) but then we don’t have to abide by their Neo-Liberal rules!
    Deal or No Deal?
    We then manage labour supply with job offers needed (as should other countries) and bringing back migration adjustment funds for Councils plus if we can encourage migrant workers to join trade unions we could have a triple lock on migration.
    Plus look at capital supply.

  3. C MacMackin says:

    It would have been nice if this article put forward some actual arguments for lowering the voting age, rather than justify just in terms of narrow
    party interest.

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