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Published on October 22nd, 2010 | by The Editor
Image © In the last couple of weeks, Nick Clegg has looked forlorn. I would be too if I were him. If things weren’t bad enough with the lack of Lib Dem opposition to the raising of tuition fees, something they had promised to oppose in the election campaign, there has been general surprise and uproar at the lack of support for Natascha Engel’s amendment to the referendum on Monday. In said amendment, Natascha proposed that those eligible to vote in the 2015 general election, or in other words, those who would be affected by the changes made in the referendum, should be able to vote in it. Natascha was proposing that anyone aged 16 or above on May 5th should be entitled to this. The Bill failed to pass, with not a single Lib Dem voting for it. forlorn Nick CleggThe problem lies in the apparent contradiction between this fact and Clegg’s comments earlier this year. In an interview for the UK Youth Parliamentary Forum in January, Clegg asked, “if the state can ask a 16 year old to fight and die for this country, why not vote too?” The fact that 16 year olds cannot vote was “wrong”, according to Clegg. Do we have here another, all too familiar of late, “Lib Dem U-turn”? Not necessarily. True, the Lib Dems cannot pin their response to this Bill on the ‘mess that this country is in’. But it does seem that Natascha has chosen an unusual amendment to pin the hopes of the votes for 16 campaign on. This is a referendum, not an election. It is possible therefore, that this is simply neither the time nor the most effective way to go about getting the vote for 16 year olds. Perhaps the Lib Dems are right. But at least Natascha was trying; raising the issue in parliament, putting forward a proactive amendment to keep the votes for 16 Campaign at the front of people’s minds, and light-hearted and friendly in her address to the House of Commons. It would be easier to believe another of Clegg’s claims earlier this year, that this is a time for “promises to be kept”, if we saw equal amounts of passion and commitment in him. Time to lose the frown?

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Votes at 16: No Votes for the Vote

In the last couple of weeks, Nick Clegg has looked forlorn. I would be too if I were him. If things weren’t bad enough with the lack of Lib Dem opposition to the raising of tuition fees, something they had promised to oppose in the election campaign, there has been general surprise and uproar at the lack of support for Natascha Engel’s amendment to the referendum on Monday. In said amendment, Natascha proposed that those eligible to vote in the 2015 general election, or in other words, those who would be affected by the changes made in the referendum, should be able to vote in it. Natascha was proposing that anyone aged 16 or above on May 5th should be entitled to this. The Bill failed to pass, with not a single Lib Dem voting for it.

forlorn Nick CleggThe problem lies in the apparent contradiction between this fact and Clegg’s comments earlier this year. In an interview for the UK Youth Parliamentary Forum in January, Clegg asked, “if the state can ask a 16 year old to fight and die for this country, why not vote too?” The fact that 16 year olds cannot vote was “wrong”, according to Clegg. Do we have here another, all too familiar of late, “Lib Dem U-turn”? Not necessarily. True, the Lib Dems cannot pin their response to this Bill on the ‘mess that this country is in’. But it does seem that Natascha has chosen an unusual amendment to pin the hopes of the votes for 16 campaign on. This is a referendum, not an election. It is possible therefore, that this is simply neither the time nor the most effective way to go about getting the vote for 16 year olds.

Perhaps the Lib Dems are right. But at least Natascha was trying; raising the issue in parliament, putting forward a proactive amendment to keep the votes for 16 Campaign at the front of people’s minds, and light-hearted and friendly in her address to the House of Commons. It would be easier to believe another of Clegg’s claims earlier this year, that this is a time for “promises to be kept”, if we saw equal amounts of passion and commitment in him. Time to lose the frown?

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