Last week, I took a few minutes to give the well-intentioned people at Spiked! the hard word, and requested that they desist from sending their regular emails telling of the latest contrarian guff from the likes of Brendan O’Neill, who is not on Twitter, most likely to avoid the inevitable barrage of ridicule. Why I should have done this was then illustrated superbly by the man himself.
Brendan O'Neill ...
Having been given a platform at the bear pit that is Telegraph blogs, Bren regaled his adoring readers (Damian and James Delingbonkers) with the assertion “Labour's plan to give 16-year-olds the vote is cynical gerrymandering”, followed by several paragraphs of self-justifying bullshit which could be picked apart all too easily. Moreover, he clearly hadn’t been listening to his fellow Tel bloggers.
Lowering the voting age to 16 is not guaranteed to give any political party an advantage, as was demonstrated by the loathsome Toby Young, who – for once – not only consulted some of those pesky statistics, but also got them, indirectly, from the deeply subversive Guardian, to show that support for the Tories among younger voters has increased in the last few years.
... and the figures he couldn't be bothered with
This discovery had been previously picked up on by resident spinner Mark Wallace, formerly of the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance, at Conservative Home. The poll he cites shows that what is known as “Generation Y”, those born between 1980 and 2000, is the only group of the four researched to show an increase. So giving the vote to 16 year olds may not be such a lost cause after all.
That means when O’Neill says “This is naked generational gerrymandering, a desperate stab to improve Labour's electoral fortunes by meddling with the voting age rather than by giving actual, already existing adult voters something worth voting for ... Labour's bigwigs hope that ... a new swathe of largely immature, Left-feeling voters, will boost its ability to win and secure power”, he’s talking crap.
It gets worse: “Hilariously, some people try to present the enfranchisement of 16-year-olds as the unfinished business of universal suffrage ... There is a massive difference between those earlier historic extensions of the franchise and Miliband's plans: in the past, working men and women fought long and hard, marched tirelessly ... There are no rabble-rousing 16-year-olds demanding the right to vote”.
Have I got news for Bren: there was no mass movement to lower the voting age to 18 either. Would he, on that basis, like to return that minimum age to 21? But O’Neill is adamant: “This might just be enough to make me go out and vote at the next election – against Labour”. As if anyone gives a flying foxtrot what one discredited phony “I’m a leftie, me” contrarian does with his ballot paper.
Give up pretending to know your subject Bren, and go get yourself a proper job.