SNP welcome Unite support for votes at 16

The SNP has welcomed Unite’s backing for the voting age to be lowered to 16, saying this would “empower young people to better engage in society”.

The union passed a motion at its conference, resolving to join the Votes at 16 Coalition, lobby MPs and to promote the policy.

SNP MSP Stuart McMillan welcomed the backing and said Labour in Scotland must say whether they support votes for 16 and 17 year-olds.

He said:

“Unite is a union that prides itself on standing up for equality, which is why its backing for votes at 16 is so welcome.

“This represents a significant and powerful support for this policy, alongside backing from EIS, STUC, Scottish Youth Parliament, NUS in Scotland, Young Scots and the Electoral Reform Society.

“Our young people are not the citizens of tomorrow, they are citizens of today – and they must have their say on the future of their country in the referendum on Independence in 2014.

“The SNP supports votes at 16 in all elections and where we have the power over Health Board Elections and even elections to the Crofting Commission we have ensured our young people have a say.”

Mr McMillan added:

“With its biggest union backer Unite supporting this policy, Labour in Scotland must end its silence on this important issue.

“The people of Scotland deserve to know exactly where Labour stands on allowing our young citizens a say in the referendum.

“MPs like deputy leader Anas Sarwar backed votes at 16 in the AV referendum but want to withhold that right from young Scots in the independence referendum.

“Labour must explain why it is determined to stand in the way of young scots rights to a say over their future.”