Today, as you might have heard (I mean no-one has really mentioned it at all), Britain finds itself on the precipice of the greatest decision it has had to make in a generation. This question eats the West Lothian question for breakfast, and snacks on general elections. That's right - it's referendum time!
Every person across the UK (who bothered to register to vote - and if you didn't, what were you doing? They even extended the deadline for you, come on - you've got to put some of the legwork in yourself) from age 18 and beyond will head out to their nearest school hall or church to put a large cross in a medium sized box with a tiny pen, to shape Britain's foreseeable future. And yet there is a profound problem with that.
This decision that the nation makes will affect everyone - particularly the current generation of teenagers, as it will be them who bear the brunt (or reap the rewards) of this result. And yet, they cannot vote. When Scotland made a decision over the future of its independence from the rest of the UK, they had a say, when the Scottish Parliament is elected, they have a say. And yet today, they cannot. They have been failed by the very system they are subjected to.
Yes, this is the plight of 16 and 17-year-olds. The spot covered faces of these pubescent teens have received a proverbial slap in the face from the UK government - the very same government that can send them to war and take their taxes, I may hasten to add. Despite their pleading and requesting, these young adults have been roundly rejected - a real put down for British democracy.
Whether you believe that Britain will be better of within the EU or that we'd be better off out, the results of this referendum will not be instantaneous - they will not be felt (on the most part) before the end of this year. The tumultuous tremors of the plebiscite will shake Britain for the next decade and beyond - meaning that the current electorate will be immensely different to the one that has to contemplate its realities. And yet the views of a huge quantity of those who will be trying to buy homes, get jobs and found families when the dust of this ballot settles, cannot make their voices heard by the ballot box.
An attempt to give 16 and 17-year-olds the vote was attempted in the House of Commons and the House of Lords but was defeated by government/Conservative members citing a reason that "it would cost £6 million pounds." Is £6 million pounds now too large a price to pay for the fundamental rights of democracy?
So, tomorrow, millions of young people will wake up to the news of a decision that they will have to deal with, after having no say on the decision. Seems fair right?
You're right, it's not. But. BIG but. You (if you are over the age of 18 and registered) can vote. That's right, you can make your voice heard in what could be the greatest act of direct democracy the UK has ever seen. You can change Britain. So today, if you haven't already - get out and vote. Go. Now. Don't even finish this article. Why are you still reading? Go!
Don't let someone else decide your future. Make it be your future, that you've made - not one that's been thrust upon you.
By making your own vote, you reserve yourself the right to complain about the result if it doesn't go your way. Make sure you can complain or celebrate on Friday. Don't leave that all to other people. Don't sit idly by.
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