Shetland’s two MSYPs Kaylee Mouat and Catherine Hannah are calling on all election candidates to engage with the islands’ young people and publicly pledge support for the Votes at 16 campaign.
In just one month, many young voters in Shetland will be going to the polls for the first time in the UK General Election.
Of course we must recognise that there will be disappointment for many 16 and 17 year olds across our isles that do not have the right to cast their vote in this election, despite having it last September in the independence referendum.
The outcome of this election will have a direct impact on the young people of Shetland as they need someone representing them that understands their needs and is willing to speak up to defend and help them.
In this forthcoming election, we as young people want to see an MP elected that represents our peers’ views and aspirations.
We as young people want a representative that is willing to meet with us and listen to what we have to say. Whether through community events or social media, there are a wide range of platforms and we would encourage all candidates to take this opportunity prior to election day to engage with young people.
Young people in Shetland face many challenges. The housing situation at present is making it very difficult for young people to be able to make it onto the property ladder and find themselves their first home either to return to live, study, work or invest.
More and more young people are being forced to live at home for longer as they do not have the money to afford to rent a property never mind even thinking of buying one.
This barrier is something, which is stopping many young people from moving forward in their lives and supporting our community to develop. They need their own space and they need the ability to be able to start their new life as an independent person.
Although housing is a devolved matter to the Scottish Parliament, I believe that young people will be looking for someone to be elected that is willing to push for this to be resolved working alongside our elected representatives at Holyrood.
As we have mentioned above, in the UK General Election, young people aged 16 and 17 will not have the right to vote.
Following the referendum in September it could be clearly seen that lowering the voting age is the right move to make. These young people should have the right to cast their vote in elections that will have an impact on their lives.
Post-September 2014 we have seen a surge in interest in grassroots politics, and all candidates need to understand that young people have become energised and that this has led to a new way of doing politics.
These people showed last year that they can make intelligent decisions and that they are mature enough to vote. It is imperative that we see 16 and 17 year olds given the right to vote in all UK elections.
Young people will be looking for a candidate in this election that will support this move and most want to see this age group being recognised. I am calling on all the candidates to publically pledge their support for the Votes at 16 campaign in all elections.
Our final comment is a direct plea to all young people to ensure they are registered to vote in the election. In this country women fought for their right to vote, and still today young people and their communities across the world are still campaigning for this right.
In this country we are given the democratic right to vote, so let’s ensure the youth vote turns out en masse and sends a loud and clear message to those in Westminster that we cannot be ignored.
The deadline for registering to vote is midnight on Monday 20 April. Also worth noting for students or those living outwith the isles that applications for a postal vote must be made by 5 pm on Tuesday 21 April 2015.
If you wish to apply for a proxy vote, applications should be with the Electoral Registration Office by 5pm on Tuesday 28 April. If you have any questions or require support make sure you contact the Electoral Registration Office at 20 Commercial Road, Lerwick, ZE1 0LX on 01595 745700 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to get in touch we can be contacted through our Scottish Youth Parliament emails at email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or through Martin Summers, our support worker, at email@example.com
Kaylee Mouat MSYP
Catherine Hannah MSYP