Ten years ago, whilst working for the Electoral Reform Society, I founded the Votes at 16 Campaign. This involved bringing together more than 30 different organisations ranging from childrens' charities to political parties and we had many thousands of individual supporters signed up.
Regrettably, the Labour Government stalled on the issue. Whilst there were a large number of individual Labour MPs who backed us (among the Labour supporters was David Milliband) as well as Lib Dems, nationalists and a couple of Tories, they were never enough of a force to make this any sort of priority within the Government. Tony Blair opposed change on the issue and Gordon Brown, a supporter, promised change this year, next year, sometime never.
Now, apparently cynically, Labour has swung behind the Votes at 16 cause.
In today's debate on the voting reform bill, Labour moved an amendment to allow 16 and 17 year olds to vote in the referendum on changing the voting system. This wouldn't change the age at which people could vote in elections themselves, but was just yet another attempt by Labour to disrupt the referendum on voting reform (which they supposedly support).
Of course I'm disappointed that the Lib Dems didn't vote for the measure, but I understand the reasoning in this instance. If we are to have change then it should be proper change for every election.
If Labour backs change now, why not propose a real amendment to allow 16 and 17 year olds to vote in all elections rather than just trying to disrupt this referendum.