BRITAIN’S youngest MP Mhairi Black has called on young people in Scotland to ensure they make their voice heard at the ballot box as polling evidence shows those aged 16 to 24 are less likely to be certain to vote in this year’s Holyrood election than other age groups.
This May will be the first time 16- and 17-year-olds will be eligible to vote in a Scottish Parliament election and follows a change in the law last year which allows this age group to vote in all Scottish parliamentary and council elections.
Black, who was elected to Westminster at the age of 20 at last May’s General Election, has been leading a voter registration drive ahead of polling day, urging young people not to stand on the sidelines.
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“One of the most inspiring aspects of the referendum campaign was the way so many young people got involved with politics for the first time – because people realised that politics isn’t some abstract thing that you have to be a politician to understand,” she said.
“And with this year’s election being the first in which 16- and 17-year-olds get to have their say, there’s never been a better chance to ensure that engagement continues.”
A recent poll for TNS-BRMB showed those aged between 16 and 24 are least likely to be “certain to vote” in the Scottish Parliament election – with a net rating of 62 per cent, compared to 83 per cent for those aged 55 to 64.
The findings are mirrored in this week’s Survation poll for the Daily Record which found 48.8 per cent of those aged 16 to 34 say they “would definitely vote” in the election, compared to 83.4 per cent of those aged 55 and above.
Black, who is the SNP’s youth campaign co-ordinator for the Scottish Parliament election, added: “It’s troubling to see the latest polls showing that young people are much less likely to be certain to vote in the election than other age groups.
“Some young people might think that politics just doesn’t impact their lives, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“In fact, everything I’ve seen during my time at Westminster so far has just made me even more convinced that young people need a voice in politics.”
She pointed to plans by the Tories to introduce a graduate tax for university leavers and Labour’s plans to raise the Scottish rate of income tax by a penny from April as issues potentially affecting young people which they should be concerned about.
Jordan Linden, Scottish Youth Parliament Chair, said: “Our feeling is that not enough has been done to truly capitalise on the high level of political interest and engagement that was generated by the independence referendum.
“Our experience is that if young people feel like their voices are
being heard, they are likely to be engaged.
“The challenge for politicians of all parties is to ensure that the issues that matter to young people are at the top of their priority list.
“Most importantly, we want to see every effort made to get young people registered to vote, and we will champion any efforts to encourage them to register and to turn up at the ballot.”