Voting age debated at Aboyne festival

Dennis Canavan and Dennis Robertson at Aboyne festival
Dennis Canavan and Dennis Robertson at Aboyne festival

Aberdeenshire West MSP Dennis Robertson was debating with political mavericks Tam Dalyell and Dennis Canavan in Aboyne at the weekend.

The local MSP asked if the right of 16-year-olds to vote in future elections would turn the tide of voters’ apathy.

The event took place at the Deeside Community Centre Theatre in Aboyne on Saturday.

Dennis Canavan, newly appointed Chair of the Yes Campaign’s Advisory Board, is a highly respected former Labour politician who has served at both Westminster and Holyrood parliaments. Mr Canavan is leading the Yes Campaign with Blair Jenkins, formerly Head of News and Current Affairs at both BBC Scotland and Scottish Television and latterly Director of Broadcasting at STV.

Aberdeenshire West MSP, Dennis Robertson, said:“I congratulate the Aboyne & Deeside Festival for securing the participation of two heavyweights of Scottish politics who have never shared a festival stage before.

“Dennis Canavan’s positive answer to my question on 16-year-olds right to vote is a clear demonstration of how progressive is the Yes campaign. Sixteen and 17-year-olds are deemed old enough to pay taxes, leave school, marry and join the armed forces, alongside a wide range of other responsibilities, therefore it would make sense to lower the voting age to 16.”

Tam Dalyell, former Labour MP and long opponent of Scottish devolution who had warned that devolution would put Scotland on a motorway to independence, confirmed on the night that his preferred option would be to turn the clock back to when all decisions were taken at Westminster.

After the event, both former Labour MPs invited the local audience to purchase signed copies of their respective titles; Tam Dalyell’s autobiography, ‘The Importance of Being Awkward’, and Dennis Canavan’s memoir, ‘Let the People Decide’.

Hugh Andrew, Managing Director of Birlinn Publishing, chaired the event.

Mr Robertson added:“Dennis Canavan played a leading part in the campaign to re-establish the Scottish Parliament, and I know that Dennis is very much looking forward to work with Blair Jenkins as both have the skills, experience and commitment to lead the Yes Campaign.

“Dennis is a man of huge political experience, he sees his role in the Yes campaign as a great challenge, with the aim of organising a broad-based, inclusive campaign embracing people from across the political spectrum.”