The Tories should reward pensioners – by giving them two votes each

Rishi Sunak meets with veterans
Rishi Sunak meets with veterans

There are many good reasons to oppose Labour’s plan to give 16-year-olds the vote. The biggest reason of all, though, is the plan’s sheer cynicism.

Imagine if Labour came clean about its obvious real aim.

Nick Robinson: “Sir Keir Starmer, why is it that your party wants to lower the voting age?”

Starmer: “That’s a great question, Nick, and thank you for the opportunity to set out our thinking. The reason we’re proposing this vital change is really very simple. Brazen self-interest.”

Robinson: “Pardon? I thought you said at the weekend that it was because 16-year-olds ‘can work’, ‘can pay tax’ and ‘can serve in the Armed Forces’?”

Starmer: “Come on, Nick, surely you weren’t taken in by that blatant codswallop. It’s pure sophistry to say they ‘can work’ and ‘can pay tax’, because these days all 16- and 17-year-olds in England are required by law to remain in education or training. As a result, the overwhelming majority of them are still in school. And even if they’ve signed up to join the Armed Forces, they can’t be sent out to fight until they’ve turned 18. And quite right, too – after all, they’re only children!”

Robinson: “But…”

Starmer: “Anyway, you presumably recall that the last Labour government raised the smoking age from 16 to 18 – so clearly we don’t think 16- and 17-year-olds are capable of taking adult responsibility. When I spouted that unctuous twaddle at the weekend, therefore, I was simply trying to make our crafty little ruse sound principled and democratic, while shamelessly disguising our real motive.”

Robinson: “Which is?”

Starmer: “Oh for pity’s sake, Nick, any idiot can spot it a mile off. It’s because, like the vast majority of existing young voters, 16- and 17-year-olds are extremely likely to vote Labour, and extremely unlikely to vote Tory. So that will help to keep us in power, even after our popularity with the wider electorate has taken the inevitable nosedive. Do you seriously think we’d be proposing this change if polling showed that 16-year-olds were all rabid Thatcherites? Do me a favour.”

Robinson: “But if lowering the voting age is just a Machiavellian ploy to give your own party an in-built electoral advantage, why stop at 16? Why not lower it to 14? Or 12? Or go the whole hog, and give the vote to babies?”

Starmer: “What an excellent idea. Thanks, Nick. I’ll get straight on to our manifesto team.”

On the whole, it seems unlikely that Sir Keir would ever give an interview along the above lines. Personally, though, I would actually quite admire him if he did. In fact, I suspect many other voters would, too. “This Starmer bloke may be a devious, self-serving, gerrymandering opportunist – but at least he’s honest.”

In the absence of such refreshing candour, however, I feel we should withhold our admiration – and urge the Tories to fight fire with fire. After all, if Labour can cynically plot to tilt elections in its favour while making a nauseating pretence at virtue, Rishi Sunak might as well do the same.

“We in the Conservative party have always had the utmost respect for Britain’s pensioners. They worked hard all their lives. They paid their taxes. And they made countless sacrifices for the sake of their children, and indeed their country. Which is why we Conservatives are going to reward our wonderful, patriotic, and above all loyal pensioners – by giving them two votes each.

“Or maybe three, just to make sure.”

Hillary Clinton’s woman problem

Eight years on, proud feminist Hillary Clinton has apparently worked out who was really responsible for her shattering defeat to Donald Trump.


In an interview with the New York Times at the weekend, Mrs Clinton looked back on the controversial decision, taken by the FBI’s James Comey shortly before the 2016 election, to reopen an investigation of her private email server.

“Once he did that to me, the people, the voters who left me, were women,” she complained. “They left me because they just couldn’t take a risk on me, because as a woman, I’m supposed to be perfect. They were willing to take a risk on Trump – who had a long list of, let’s call them ‘flaws’, to illustrate his imperfection – because he was a man, and they could envision a man as president and commander-in-chief.”

I’m sorry that Mrs Clinton is still brooding over her disappointment, all these years later. None the less, I find her comments unfair. Millions of male voters also decided that they would rather “take a risk on Trump”. So why should female voters be singled out? Why should they be the ones lumbered with the blame? Why should they be held to a higher standard than their male counterparts?

I expect it’s because female voters are women. And as women, they’re supposed to be perfect.

Way of the World is a twice-weekly satirical look at the headlines aiming to mock the absurdities of the modern world. It is published at 7am every Tuesday and Saturday