Without wishing to open old wounds, one of the most miserable political decisions tangled up with Brexit was the denial of the right to vote in the referendum to so many young people whose future is at stake.
Even if I could be persuaded about the insurmountable legal problems of giving young people under the age of 18 the vote, it says everything about the lack of creativity in our political system that young people of 12 and above could not have been given the chance to vote in some non-binding way ahead of the referendum so that at least we knew how they felt.
I say this because one of the strange omissions from today’s Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health report and broad-side across the Government about the state of the nation’s child health is the lack of a cohesive statement about empowering young people as one of the solutions to the picture it paints. Strange, because this is a College which has done such great work to involve young people and persuade others to do the same; this includes its charter for the involvement of young people in research.
As curious is the statement by the College’s President, Professor Neena Modi, that adults should be given extra votes in elections according to how many children they have (this in an interview with the Guardian’s Health Editor, Sarah Boseley). It’s certainly headline-grabbing and has prompted quite a response from reader’s on the newspaper’s noticeboard, many of which just serve to underline quite why adults might not make such reliable voters as they think they are!
Point is, I am not sure going from a nanny state to a parent state is a worthwhile path. My sense is that my sons and the other young people I meet are way ahead of many adults in their knowledge, concern and willingness to do things differently to improve the world today and tomorrow.
If only we gave them the opportunity to show us the way.
That’s the challenge.
PS: By the way young people are talking about research in Europe today as we speak. #PatientsEU2018