Dear Orkney News,
Further to my recent letter ‘Use it, Don’t Lose It’ (published in The Orkney News on 23rd January 2021) in which I pleaded with folk to use their vote in the forthcoming Scottish elections on 6 May 2021, I’d now like to make a special appeal to Orkney’s young people.
Statistically, young people are the demographic segment of the electorate that is the least likely to vote, but it is vital that they do.
Over a decade ago I taught in a Further Education college in England; my students were on the whole aged 16-19. Possibly because of the subject matter (Archaeology and Critical Thinking at A level) and possibly because of my influence (but perhaps I flatter myself to think so), my students were wonderfully switched on about politics in general and enthusiastic about taking part in the democratic process. They expressed considerable frustration about not being able to vote until they were 18.
As I wrote previously, the right to vote was a hard fight for our forebears and we should never forget that what has been won can also be lost. Scotland’s young people are privileged to be entitled to vote from the age of 16 in Scottish elections – from experience, I know that their English counterparts are envious.
Since statistically young voters also tend to be more sympathetic to left-wing concepts (politicians dismiss this as young people being more ‘idealistic’, whereas I prefer to think it is because they haven’t been beaten down into the submission of cynicism), the voting age is unlikely to be lowered in England under a right-wing government.
I therefore urge all 16 and 17 year olds in Orkney to treat this right to vote in Scottish elections as an honour and privilege. Please register to vote and then please do so. The Scottish Green Party is a progressive party, dedicated to addressing the Climate Change emergency and to creating a non-violent, just, equitable and sustainable society. We would be grateful for your second vote on the Regional list ballot paper.
Please don’t give in to apathy – the Scottish Greens haven’t – please register to vote and then use your vote! Thank you.
Helen Woodsford-Dean, Orkney Greens Co-Convenor