I see that the Scottish Nationalists plan to allow school children aged 16 and upwards to vote in the referendum about Scottish independence. The cynic in me suspects that Alex Salmond has done his homework and calculates that children with no experience of the real world may well be swayed to his idealistic view of separation from the United Kingdom.
Typically, Labour and the Liberals seem to be in agreement with this lowering of the franchise. I think it is madness. No doubt there are some bright and intelligent children who, at 16 years, have the intellectual capacity to understand political concepts and to choose between alternatives. However, I have not forgotten how Gordon Brown grew the client state by drawing more and more good and decent people into a culture of dependency on handouts from the state. I am afraid that school children who are more used to receiving than giving and who are susceptible to offers of jam today and tomorrow will not be capable of exercising sensible judgment while they are supported by their parents and live in the sheltered environment of their school.
I have an alternative view of earning the franchise with the entitlement and privilege of electing political representatives. It is based on the concept of earned democratic engagement and would require an individual to produce six monthly pay slips as evidence of having contributed to the national revenues before being allowed to vote in politicians who will decide how to tax them and to spend the proceeds. I believe this would sharpen the minds of young people and help them to develop a more balanced judgment on the promises of political parties at election times.