Another Lib Dem u-turn – this time they vote down votes at 16

Last night Liberal Democrat MPs voted against lowering the voting age to 16 - despite promising to give 16-year-olds the vote in their election manifesto.

Last night Liberal Democrat MPs voted down a Parliamentary amendment to lower the voting age to 16 ahead of for the referendum on the voting system, despite promising to give 16-year-olds the vote in their election manifesto.

The amendment, brought by Labour MP and “former-16-year-old” Natascha Engel, to the Parliamentary and Constituencies Bill, was rejected by 346 MPs – with no Lib Dem MP voting in favour of it, despite the issue not being mentioned in the Coalition Agreement with the Conservatives.

The voting age looks to be another broken Lib Dem pledge – one of the youngest MPs in Parliament, Sarah Teather, boasts about the importance of giving the vote to 16-year-olds on her own website.

She says:

“It would help to demonstrate to young people that their opinions are valued… It still seems ludicrous to me that a person can work, get married and join the army in this country before they are allowed to vote.”

Ceredigion MP Mark Williams told the Commons that the Lib Dems shared the “Lady’s passion” for reducing the voting age – but voted against it nevertheless. Additionally, Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, who in January expressed his strong support for 16-year-olds voting, notably voted against the amendment last night.

In January the Liberal Democrat leader had said:

“If you can ask someone to die for this country, they should have the right to vote for the Government of the country. So I can guarantee that we will continue to campaign for votes at 16.”

This latest u-turn follows on from the furore over tuition fees last week, with the Lib Dems reigning on their direct pledge to the NUS that they would fight any increase in tuition fees.

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