This is the week that celebrates 100 years since some women were first guaranteed the right to vote in the UK Parliament. If you have followed the coverage of this milestone you will be aware that in February 1918 it was women over the age of 30, who either owned land themselves or were married to men with property, who gained this right. It was not until the Equal Franchise Act that women in the UK were granted equal voting rights, increasing the number of eligible female voters from 8 million to 15 million.
100 years on from this significant event we have the debate being aired in various quarters on lowering the age to vote to 16 years old. In January this proposal was put forward for discussion in Wales, with the focus on exploring whether Wales should fall in line with Scotland, where 16 year-olds can already vote in Scottish elections. The move would bring the country closer in line with Scotland, where 16 year-olds can already vote in Scottish elections. Despite cross-party support a private member’s bill introduced in November failed to gather enough parliamentary traction to move government policy on general elections, where voters must be 18.
At Mill Hill our pupils are a lively and well-informed group of young people. Politics A level is a very popular option for our pupils and a good number go off to study either politics or international relations at university. We have relaunched our Student Council this year and it is exploring ways, with fresh energy, to represent the pupils’ voice. We have an active politics society; this Tuesday, for example, we had Matthew D’Ancona (Guardian journalist and ex-Spectator Editor) speaking. And this week, we release yet another edition of The Millhillian, the magazine written by our Sixth Form.
Should our 16 year olds here at Mill Hill have the right to vote in the next general election? I look forward to hearing their views.