Activist calls for 16 and 17 year olds to get the vote

Ed Miliband and Ben Cook
Ed Miliband and Ben Cook

A political activist has called on 16 and 17-year-olds to be given the vote to help halt the alarming trend of low turnouts and get young people into politics.

Ben Cook, a shop steward at Boston’s Asda store, says it is vital to get the town’s young people involved in politics.

Mr Cook came second to Paul Kenny in the race to become Labour election contender for Boston and Skegness at next year’s General Election.

He vowed to stand to become a borough councillor instead and wants more of the town’s young people to be engaged in politics.

Turnouts in Boston, as elsewhere in the country, have fallen to low levels.

Just 33.3 per cent of people in the borough voted in May’s European elections and in 2013 turnout in the county council election fell as low as 23.3 per cent in the Boston North West ward.

Mr Cook believes giving young people the vote – as in the recent Scottish referendum – will involve youngsters at an earlier age and allow colleges and sixth forms to look at the importance of using your vote.

He told The Standard: “It’s really important. We need to get young people more active in politics. They are our future. It’s up to us to put the pressure on.

“You can go to work at that age so why not be able to vote?”

He also thinks young people have had to bear the brunt of the fallout of the recession – and fears many of them are in zero hour contract jobs working for low pay in poor conditions.

The 28-year-old dad-of-one lobbied Ed Miliband at June’s GMB conference.

He told The Standard: “I met him and told him to come and sort it out. We’ve got the third lowest average wages in the UK and the highest rents in the East Midlands. Boston is at breaking point.”

He got a mention in the Labour leader’s subsequent speech and feels negative comments about him are unfair, adding: “Actually he has got more charisma in real life.

“People say he has got no charisma but if every person in the country met him then I think they would vote for him.”

Do you agree that 16 and 17 year olds should get the vote? Post your comments below or email andrew.brookes@jpress.co.uk with your views