Revealed: Labour is using campaign to lower the voting age to 16 to harvest the contact details of tens of thousands of young people
- More than 44,900 people signed petition demanding 16 – 17-year-olds can vote
- Since the campaign was launched two years ago many are no eligible to vote
- Signatories were asked for email address and postcode so Labour could contact
- Jeremy Corbyn’s plan to extend the voting age may be crucial in making him PM
Labour has used its campaign to lower the voting age to 16 to harvest the contact details of tens of thousands of young people, it can be revealed.
More than 44,900 people have signed an online petition on the party’s website demanding 16 and 17-year-olds are given the vote.
Jeremy Corbyn’s plan to extend the voting age to 16 and 17-year-olds may be crucial in handing him the keys to No10
Since it was launched two years ago, many will now be 18 and eligible to vote when an election takes place.
However, signatories were asked for their email addresses and postcodes so Labour will able to contact them with election messages in the run-up to polling day. Signatories can opt out of receiving the updates.
Jeremy Corbyn’s plan to extend the voting age may be crucial in handing him the keys to No10.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveals there are 88 constituencies where the number of 16 and 17-year-olds outnumber the majority of the sitting MP.
Thirty-four of the seats are held by Conservative MPs who would be vulnerable to losing if the franchise was extended. They include Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers, who won her Chipping Barnet seat by just 353 votes in the 2017 election.
The change would also make it harder for the Tories to take a swathe of Labour-held target seats, such as Stroud, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Colne Valley, Lincoln and Bishop Auckland.
If Mr Corbyn won an extra 34 seats, it would give Labour 296 MPs – making it the largest party and giving him the chance to become prime minister thanks to a deal with the Liberal Democrats or the SNP.
Ahead of its annual conference, which begins today in Brighton, Labour has launched a fresh call for the voting age to be lowered to 16. Cat Smith, Labour’s spokesman for voter engagement, said earlier this week: ‘Our young people are a force to be reckoned with, who are taking to the street, leading the climate strikes and using their voices to influence positive change.’
Labour’s Harriet Harman is MP for Camberwell and Peckham and vowed last night to continue her fight to be Commons Speaker
One motion put forward for consideration is for online voting to be introduced to boost the number of young voters. At the 2017 election, opposition parties pledged to give the vote to 16 and 17-year-olds but it was opposed by the Tories. A voting age of 16 has already been introduced for Scottish Parliament elections.
Meanwhile, Mr Corbyn’s Momentum group is hoping to help him snatch target seats in university towns by getting students to vote there rather than at their home addresses. It has launched a website where young people can type in the postcodes and it will tell them which seat is more marginal and more likely to make a difference to Labour.
It is part of a voter registration drive by Momentum which will also include Facebook adverts targeting young people and events on university campuses. More than a million people have registered to vote in the past month, including 293,000 under-25s.
Hardliners warn Harman
Harriet Harman last night vowed to continue her fight to be Commons Speaker after Corbynites launched a bid to force her out of her own seat.
Left-wing members of her local constituency party warned they would try to oust the ex-deputy leader as an MP unless she drops her attempt to succeed John Bercow.
Activists in Camberwell and Peckham, led by a hardline socialist who stood against her in 2015, voted on Thursday to express its ‘disquiet’ at her running for the role. Miss Harman tweeted: ‘I will not back down.’ Parliamentary convention states major parties will not stand against the Speaker.
The constituency motion voted on said Labour needs ‘the largest and strongest presence possible’ in Parliament to secure ‘radical socialist policies’. The absence of a Labour MP will ‘deprive one of the most deprived constituencies in the UK’, it warned.