Kevin Stewart MSP, Scottish National Party Member of the Scottish Parliament for Aberdeen Central and supporter of Votes at 16 (he supported the campaign with a motion in the Scottish Parliament last year) has shared his thoughts on the need for votes at 16 in the Scottish referendum.

Kevin told us:

I have long supported voting rights for 16 and 17 year olds. There are many reasons why this is the right thing to do but importantly it is because 16 and 17 year olds already have responsibilities and rights that make the exclusion from voting hypocritical.”

“In Scotland by 16, you can leave school, you have reached the age of consent, you can be married, you pay taxes if employed, but have no say on how much money should be raised or what is should be spent on. At a younger and undefined age children can make their own medical decisions, providing they understand the consequences, including the removal of treatment in terminal circumstances.”

“We allow 16 and 17 year olds to make dramatic life-long personal decisions but we exclude them from making the collective decision of deciding our government. They can either make decisions or they cannot but the current halfway approach is not the right balance. It is incompatible to be considered responsible enough to get married but not be able to decide what party you want to vote for.”

“It is arguable that the independence referendum is a unique case for votes for 16 and 17 year olds in that they will inherit the result. Independence will have the longest effect on the young. I believe voting should be allowed for 16 and 17 year olds in all cases but it is important that their voice is heard on independence – Scotland will be making its biggest decision ever.”

As this vote will be such an important vote and a once in a lifetime opportunity I want to see as many people living in Scotland being able to take part, and help decide our future”.movie Colossal 2017

The Votes at 16 campaign has written to leaders of political parties in the UK to ask them where they stand on votes at 16 in the Scottish referendum. Why not ask your MP what they think? Send a quick email through our website here, and email us at votesat16@byc.org.uk to let us know their thoughts.

Don’t forget to have your say in the Scottish Government’s consultation on the referendum too, and answer question 7 about votes at 16. You can find out more here and get involved.