Tuesday, August 02, 2022

The Spectator tries to have fun with Liz Truss's Lib Dem past again, but she made more sense in those days

Liz Truss once suggested that "the age of criminal responsibility should come to us with the right to vote" in an article titled "So why can't kids have the vote?"

tweets James Heale, the editor of the Spectator's diary column.

He leads us to another gentle attempt to embarrass Truss over her Liberal Democat past. This time the item is mainly about an article she wrote for Free Radical - then the organ of the party's youth wing.

Maybe it will outrage Spectator readers and Conservative members, but this article (reposted here to annoy the Man) seems to me to make a perfectly arguable case.

Certainly, our current age of criminal responsibility (10) and voting age (18), both of which concern a young person's ability to navigate the adult world, are much too far apart.

Where you set the voting age is not just a reflection of what young people are like, but also of what you think they should be like. And I believe that, for the health of our democracy, young people should be interested in politics by the time they are 16 and that giving them the vote at that age will encourage this.

Meanwhile, we need to look at our age of criminal responsibility, which is how by international standards.

Remember, too, that if a child of 10 or more is charged with a serious crime then they will be tried before a jury in an adult court.

And, yes, at this point I am going to recommend again the BBC  Responsible Child, which looks at this issue. It won an International Emmy, as did its young lead Billy Barratt.

Believing a 10-year-old can understand such proceedings and meaningfully instruct counsel seems to me rather sillier than suggesting they should be given the vote.

Liz Truss's idea of a consistent age of majority at 16 was a creditable attempt to sort out the mess we have made of things and one to which we Lib Dems might return.

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