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From Our Practical Politics Blog

Labour promise votes at 16 and better political education

Labour leader Ed Miliband responded to Democracy Matters saying “we have to transform who has power in our country, so that people who feel locked out are let back in.”  He wrote that Labour will lower the voting age to 16, improve citizenship and political education, require schools and colleges to give details of students approaching voting age to electoral registration officers. He concluded “we will devolve power from Westminster down to our nations, city and county regions, and local communities. This is a programme to put power back in the hands of working people.”  Read the full letter here.

Labour’s manifesto makes several commitments on democracy. They say “Government has to do things differently. The old command and control politics – doing things to and for people, but never with them – will not work. We need a new approach to government that involves more people in decisions that affect them. So we will devolve more power and control, not only to Scotland and Wales, but to our great English cities and county regions too. And we will share power and responsibility with people in their communities to help them help themselves and shape their services in response to their local circumstances.” (Page 12)

They say “too much power is concentrated in too few hands. Those who make decisions on behalf of others, whether they are in Westminster, the European Union, in business, the media, or the public sector, are too often unaccountable. …  We will end a century of centralisation.” A Labour government will devolve power and give communities “more control over schools, health care, policing, skills, housing and transport” to “promote and encourage a model of citizenship based on participation and shared responsibility.” (Page 62)

In a section on “better politics” Labour promises to:

  • improve citizenship education in schools, so young people can play a full part in society;
  • encourage young people’s volunteering and social action by supporting the ‘Step up to Serve’ campaign and the National Citizens Service;
  • give 16 and 17-year-olds the vote by May 2016;
  • set up a people-led Constitutional Convention on the future of UK’s governance
  • replace the House of Lords with a Senate of the Nations and Regions
  • English Devolution, handing £30 billion and powers to English city and county regions
  • Set up local Public Accounts Committees to scrutinize local spending
  • devolve further powers to Scotland and Wales
  • give English people a stronger voice in shaping the future of their local NHS services
  • give new powers for communities to shape their high streets, including power over payday lenders and fixed-odds betting terminals
  • reform political party funding and cap individual donations to parties;
  • repeal the Lobbying Act which has gagged charities;
  • create a statutory register of lobbyists
  • ban MPs from holding paid directorships and consultancies
  • require large companies to publish their gender pay gap
  • implement the recommendations of the Leveson Inquiry.

In relation to Europe Labour says it “will work to strengthen the influence national parliaments over European legislation” and “guarantee no powers will be transferred to Brussels without an in/out Referendum”.

The full manifesto can be downloaded here  or read online here.

We have written to the main party leaders and have not yet hear from David Cameron,  Nick Clegg, Nicola Sturgeon or Leanne Wood.

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