Votes for Children

Parents, I imagine that unless you’re loaded you aren’t exactly keen on the Coalition’s efforts so far. The massive real-world cuts in public spending – particularly on education and children’s services – certainly worry our family. Surestart has been crushed and the scandal of £9K per year university fees is hard to forget.

But why has this happened? Why has an electorate full of so many parents allowed a government to be formed that seems to be the enemy of young families? That’s down to the demographic issues and the make-up of the Tory party.

The UK has an increasingly ageing population. Now add that to a Conservative party that – at the grass roots at least – relies on a relatively old set of activists. The result is that policies are skewed towards the older generation. The Tory party therefore is willing to ringfence services for older affluent members of our society – who are likely to vote Tory – than young parents – who aren’t.

Fair enough, you may say, that’s democracy in action. But how on earth are we ever going to improve our nation with such short-term thinking? How can we rely on a generation that may not be here in 20 years to choose a government with the nation’s long-term issues in mind?

Research shows that the older generation vote quite selfishly in general elections. They even feel guilty about doing so, but do it anyway. So what we have right now is a government voted for and supported by the grandparents of children whose long-term education and employment needs have been banjoed by that very same government. The older generation has got what it wants and has pulled the ladder up, sorry kids, your screwed.

If we can’t rely on grandparents to look after the future of their own grandchildren what can we do within our democracy to improve the future for our little ones? Obviously we can’t take the vote away from older people – even the ones who read the Daily Mail – but there must be a way of giving a voice to the voters of the future before it’s too late for them to make a difference.

My solution would be to simply give votes to children. But until the age of 18 (or 16 – we could lower the voting age too) the votes are cast by their parents. Obviously there are practical issues of who gets to cast their votes on their behalf – mother or father – but these are just small issues to be ironed out.

The main thrust of the idea is simple. A parent then will have their own vote and one vote for each child. Now don’t get me wrong – I don’t assume being a parent of children means you vote for the right future for your children – but I do think that those of us with small children are going to be thinking more about the future than the older generation.

Issues such as investment in transport infrastructure, environment, pollution, education and the like are going to be viewed very differently by those who will have to live to see the long-term results of policies. I know I could be wrong, but I expect most of the people complaining about the new high-speed rail link or wind farms are moaning moneyed old folks – people who want to hold up progress and our nation’s future economic prosperity for the sake of a quiet sit in the garden.

I don’t claim that the idea of giving votes to children will solve our problems quickly. But I think that once political parties have to start thinking further than the next general election we’ll start to see some more intelligent policies than the ones we’re lumbered with right now.

My three small children don’t have a voice in this nation. The coalition has blasted a wrecking ball through their university education and they had no redress. The older generation has taken thousands of pounds from the pocket of our little kids, damning them to years of debt. I’d rather like my children to have a voice, I’d like to be able to stand up for them and say no, that the future of our children are too important to waste on short termism and childish tribal party politics.