She's beautiful. Her life has to be perfect, right?
To look at her, you’d think she has it all. She is very beautiful, and there is not a single day that goes by that her image doesn’t appear in VIP or The Star or in an ad campaign. So why is she sitting at home alone on a Friday night with an M&S meal for one and a Downton Abbey marathon on the SkyPlus? She has no shortage of friends, and certainly no shortage of male admirers, indeed all she has to do is walk into any pub or nightclub in Ireland and they’re flocking. But that’s it. They do come flocking, and she can see it in their eyes. The look that recognises her as that girl from that poster/magazine/thing on TV3 and how I’d love to bang her and tell my mates about it. They see a commodity, a mobile bragging right, and she sees they see it too. Last time she gave into a moment of weakness, and woke up in bed with a guy who was pretty fit and seemed pretty grounded, until he tried to take a picture of her whilst she slept. What was even more disturbing was that he couldn’t even see what the problem was, and turned nasty. She’s had boyfriends as famous as her too, and with that came her lovelife as public property and discovering their casual attitude to infidelity on the front of a tabloid as she went shopping with her mother. Her older sister, who didn’t quite inherit the same beautiful gene, loves when she visits, and wants to talk about her glamorous life whilst she, the sister, only has this, pointing at her two kids thrashing the house in front of the telly whilst her boring but loving husband snores loudly in front of the fire after his steak and kidney pie. Her younger niece, approaching ten, is fascinated by her cool auntie and her beautiful photos in ALL the magazines which she cuts out and keeps in a scrapbook. The niece wants to be just like her when she grows up, which is funny, because she increasingly envies her sister and family and yes, even her boring but loving husband.
As part of the government’s cherry picking of the low fat options that come out of the Constitutional Convention, that is, nothing that might actually take any power from the most over-centralised Cabinet in Europe, it seems that we may soon be faced with a referendum on votes for 16 year olds.
It’s not an issue that I’ve given, historically, a huge amount of thought to. Off the cuff, my gut instinct would be to vote Yes, on the basis that I’ve met plenty of adults who vote like 16 year olds anyway, so we might as well let those 16 year olds who think like adults have their say to balance the whole thing.
Will it make any difference? As with most of this government’s “political reforms”, almost certainly not. I’m not convinced that huge amounts of 16 year olds actually want to vote, but the ones who do (as I, as a convinced political nerd, wanted to) have probably given more thought to their preferences than most adults, so let them at it. Of course, statistically, it will almost certainly bring the turnout down, as most won’t bother. But that’s a minor detail.
One thing did occur to me, however. If 16 year olds can vote, shouldn’t candidates be allowed address them in the schools? I said this to someone recently who was shocked at the idea of “politicising” schools. Why? How can you have elections without politics or candidates?
As it happens, I suspect that letting candidates actively tout for votes of 16s plus in the schools, maybe with a day given over specifically, could end up being fascinating. If the schools played a role in registering all the students, it becomes a target rich and therefore unavoidable “Iowa Primary” for candidates. As well as that, given that young people tend to be a) less restrained than adults, and b) better with technology, imagine candidates getting a gruelling by thousands of young people who actually matter, and then upload those meetings onto the web.
We could all very well benefit from that kind of scrutiny of our political masters.