Scottish independence: Teaching union backs votes at 16

School pupil The EIS believes senior pupils are mature enough to take part in elections

Scotland's largest teaching union has said 16 and 17-year-olds should be allowed to vote in the referendum on independence.

In a submission to the Scottish government's consultation, the EIS said young voters should take part in all elections.

It pointed out that 16-year-olds have many other rights and responsibilities, including marriage and paying taxes.

The union represents 80% of Scotland's teachers and lecturers.

EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said: "The EIS believes that 16 and 17-year-olds should have the vote in the referendum on Scotland's future, which is their future.

"Extending the franchise to 16 and 17-year-olds will help to foster active citizenship by giving young people a greater say in the decisions that will affect them now and in the future."

The Scottish government has already said it would like the minimum voting age to be 16.

Mr Flanagan added: "At the age of 16, young people can secure employment, pay taxes and get married.

"They can join the armed forces. It is wholly appropriate that they should also have the right to vote on the decisions that affect them, and to have a fair say in who is elected to represent them at local or national level."

The EIS has also said it favours a three option, preferential vote, which would allow people to indicate their support for substantially greater powers for the Scottish parliament short of independence.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 126.

    One of these idiots in Westminister seriously needs to get this sorted out and pronto. They let Alex Salmond run around like he is King of Scotland just before the last election he decided to remove NHS prescription charges I cant think why can you?. Now he wants under 18`s to be able to vote in this referendum. Its blatant manipulation of the electoral system.

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.

    @history78 - it's about rights and responsibities. Otherwise you'd presumably be asking for the vote to be taken away from those not paying taxes, or who are unmarried. If a 16/17 year old works, they are liable for tax - just like everyone 18 or over - its part of their 'due' to society, they deserve democratic representation just like the 18 and overs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    If they are mature enough to vote then they are mature enough to be tried in adult courts and serve any sentences in an adult prison and not in a youth offenders institution
    Brill! But why stop there?
    ...And receive mature salaries, and serve as jury members, and enter parliament, and drive, and drink, and teach, and ....and add to our overflowing prison population...

  • rate this

    Comment number 123.

    Mr Salmond,
    dont' forget the mentally ill, the infirm, all prisoners, they too should be allowed to vote for you. Stike out anyone with a university education though, or anyone Scottish, with any English family connections or ancestory.

  • rate this

    Comment number 122.

    Youngest VC was awarded posthumously to Jack Cornwell for his service on HMS Chester during the Battle of Jutland (31/5/1916).
    He was serving as a sigh setter on a 5.5 Inch Gun, when German shells killed or disabled his crew mates.
    Mortally wounded he remained at his post for fifteen minutes alone in the midst of a battle.
    He was sixteen and a half.
    Younger lads died at the Somme.

  • rate this

    Comment number 121.

    Why not if the 16/17 year olds vote for independence great our English students will be entitled to the same subsidies the Scots give their own and other Europeans for university and thus less places for those who will have caused this to happen, undoubtedly an unintended cpnsequence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.

    I say they shouldn't. Its a ploy to whip them up into a frenzy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 119.

    Voting at 16 is probably right. Since you can pay taxes you should have a say.

    My concern though is looking at the new syllabus that this is purely about trying to manipulate the vote in their favour for a single issue.

  • rate this

    Comment number 118.

    I take it most on here are imaginless then?I know most aint!!!WAKE UP PLEEEEEEEEEEEZE.You have been nannied your whole life!!!What a wonderful world we could live in ,if,and i repeat if we thought for ourselves for ourself.

  • rate this

    Comment number 117.

    Voter apathy needs to be tackled first. The recent local elections had an average turn-out of 39%. Anyone got ideas to increase the turn-out? Only ones I have: candidates can't be elected unless they had 50% of the registered voter or £50 off your Council Tax Bill or proper proportional representation, Maybe one or a combination would give us 'real change' from our dire political elite.

  • rate this

    Comment number 116.

    The Scots can do what they like for all I care, provided it's within their devolution package, and so far as they don't expect it to apply in UK-wide elections. You have to have a cutoff somewhere. I judge inter-school debates and what I see is that whilst a few at 17 seem to be mature enough thinkers to vote, most of the 16/17 year olds fall short. Precociousness isn't the same as wisdom

  • rate this

    Comment number 115.

    If Scotland commits economic and political suicide and independence does go ahead - then the only fair settlement would be that Scotland:

    1. takes on a proportioanl share of its population
    2. Only receives a proportion of oil revenue based on population size
    3. Be physically reduced in size, relative to population (about 5 million)
    The Greater Glasgow area only would be about right

  • rate this

    Comment number 114.

    Why when the age you leave school is rising should the age when you can vote fall ?

    So it covers their future, it covers the future of the whole of the UK but the vast majority are disenfranchised.

  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    If they are going to allow 16 year olds to vote then they should change the voting age for all elections, not just the independence referendum. My personal view is they shouldn't be allowed to vote and the age should remain at 18.

  • rate this

    Comment number 112.

    I'm pro independence but if the SNP won't let kids smoke or drink at 16-17, ie- do adult stuff, then they really don't have much credibility when they suddenly want kids to VOTE at 16-17

    They should have thought of this before they went charging off on a Westminster-middle-classes-lifestyle-discrimination policy route in Scotland

    tsk tsk tsk
    Politicians... always in a muddle

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    I can understand why this has angered some EIS members. As a member of the SSTA, I would be must unhappy if they made such a sweeping statement on this issue without fully consulting all members. The argument that 16 year-olds pay taxes and are able to get married is true - but only to a certain extent. How many pay tax and more significantly, how many are actually married at this age?

  • rate this

    Comment number 110.

    If the problem is that anti-independence folk think that it gives the independence side an advantage, ask yourself why the anti-indy side can't be bothered engaging with their own youth to convince them?

    If the anti-indy people think the youth are more likely to be pro-indy, surely they should simply make the case to the 16/17 year olds AND give them their rightful franchise.

  • rate this

    Comment number 109.

    18 is the voting age and that's the age it should stay, if it aint broke it don't need fixing, they should bring back national service for kids between the ages of 16-18 before they do anything else.
    Kids today, like their lazy teachers have it far too easy.
    Exams are too easy nowadays too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    Brilliant. Introduce voting at an age when they learn to be fully compliant consumers and malleable to indoctrination. Voting is based on nonsense like kissing babies and having the right poster and pasty policy. This is an insurance it remains as such.

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    Salmond will tinker with the system not for Scotland's good, nor for Scotland's future but in his own selfish interest.
    If he loses the referendum (please!) then he loses his whole career.


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