Small People Politics

My thoughts on the British voting system, and who should be eligible for the right to vote.


1. Small People Politics

We’re studying “An Inspector Calls” in English this term and we have been exploring some of the social contexts within the play.

Allow me to set the scene.

It is 1912. Early Spring. England is in a naïve state of nascent unknowing. The empire and upper-classes are blossoming. The poor and down-trodden are enraged. A spark is about to ignite the beginning of a Socialist uprising.

Our English teacher puts a few questions out to us, in relation to the main themes of the play: Do we have a moral right to look after each other? Do you agree with community? Do you agree that people should be born into wealth?

Very few people agreed with the idea of community cohesion, or the idea of a smaller class divide. The majority who disagreed accepted the idea of a birth-lottery and insisted that looking after ourselves was of far more importance than caring for others.

This is coming from a usually pleasant bunch of predominantly working class girls.

I was disappointed. But in no ways was I surprised.

Then we moved onto the concept of Communism.

“I thought that was a liver condition”, someone astutely commented.

God help me.


Now, the Labour party are considering introducing a policy which lowers the voting eligibility age to 16. And, I suppose, in some ways, that would be great. Really great. If I, and other young people, are seeking some medium to empower ourselves, then this would provide us with the mobility to do so. If I was going to vote, I would choose a party with a manifesto that best reflected my political ideas.

But then I think back to that fateful English lesson.

Are 16 year olds ready to vote?


I don’t wish to insult my contemporaries in anyway, but they sort of showed themselves up in that classroom. Not having a clue about the differences between fascism and communism, or socialism and liberalism isn’t great. In fact, I think that if any government were going to introduce this policy, some structured lessons on International politics should be instilled in the curriculum. But it’s not. So some young people will remain unknowing and, come election time, will put a cross next to any old party that sounds good, or have leaders that wear nice ties. Or they’ll follow what they’re parents say, blindly.

That’s another point: parents. Good at making dinner and pretending to be Father Christmas. And most excellent at influencing our political thoughts. I won’t lie. Considering everything, I have to say that my parents have played a large part in my political views, just as their parents had. And I can’t say that if my parents had been right-wing, I wouldn’t have been right-wing. Because I probably would have been. We’re young and impressionable and although we like to deny that a lot, it’s true. And sometimes that might be to the detriment of others.


I want to be empowered, don’t misinterpret me. And I wouldn’t want all teenagers to be tainted by some general ignorance here and there. But the raw truth is that lots of us aren’t ready yet. We need time to enhance our political compass and understand where we… well, stand.

And now, speaking as Alannah Lewis, 16 minus 4 months, a sort-of socialist and French Bulldog enthusiast…


…16 year olds should not be given the vote. 

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