government to take radical action to address increasing disaffection for
politics from Scotland's young people. In the union's response to the
government's consultation on local governance the union argues that the age
'This is a real opportunity for the Scottish government to make a
difference,' said Dave Watson, UNISON's Scottish organiser for policy. 'The
Electoral Commission is currently talking about reducing the voting age
below 18, and the Executive is proposing a reduction of the age limit for
councillors to 18. We think they should grasp the nettle and equalise both
voting and candidacy limits at 16.'
The union argues for this move as part of a package of reforms aimed at
encouraging wider participation in local democracy. They also are arguing
for much more relaxation of the rules barring local authority staff from
standing for local councils, increased use of alternative voting methods
such as postal voting, and fairer remuneration for councillors.
'We feel that the Scottish government has it within their power to make a
major difference to local democratic accountability,' said Dave Watson.
'Young people in Scotland can marry at 16, be called up, and pay tax and
National Insurance. To refuse them the democratic rights everyone else has,
simply serves to alienate them from the political system. We have seen this
disengagement happening and think this is a step towards dealing with it.'
The union has over 70,000 members working for Scottish local government,
and is currently running a major campaign to revitalise Scottish public
services. The accountability of public services to the Scottish people is
central to that campaign.