Scottish Liberal Democrats have hailed a historic day for democracy as the Scottish Parliament passed a bill giving young Scots the right to vote in the upcoming 2016 elections.
A progressive amendment put forward by Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Alison McInnes, which could have given some young offenders the right to vote, was rejected by the SNP but received backing from some other opposition MSPs.
Whilst Scottish Liberal Democrats urged the SNP to be bolder in efforts to build a fairer society, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie today said that the ball was now in the court of young people to demand a fairer deal from all political parties.
Commenting after the bill was passed, Alison McInnes MSP said:
“I’m disappointed that the SNP Government rejected the opportunity to be bolder and more progressive.
“My amendment was an opportunity to show that the Scottish Parliament is prepared to stand up for human rights.
“We shouldn’t pick and choose which human rights to uphold and which to quietly brush under the carpet because they might generate uncomfortable headlines.
“This is a great day for most of Scotland’s 16 and 17 year olds. But it isn’t a great day for those who have been trapped in the criminal justice system. It’s a missed opportunity which I hope the SNP one day have the courage to correct.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie MSP added:
“The ball is now in the court of Scotland’s 16 and 17 year olds to demand a fairer deal from all of Scotland’s political parties.
“The right to vote comes with a responsibility to take part in our democratic debate.
“From cuts to college places to the crisis facing our hospitals, there are many issues which will benefit from the voice and power of 16 and 17 year olds.
“I know that my party also has a responsibility to reach out to these new voters. That is a charge which we will take seriously as we engage with young people in the coming weeks and months.”