Ian Bell | The Herald
WHEN I first became old enough to vote, they pulled out all the stops.
Two General Elections in a single year, neither what you would call decisive, were followed in short order by a referendum on something called the Common Market. It was as though a special effort was being made to put me off the whole business.
They had lowered the voting age not many years before, supposedly to slake my thirst for participatory democracy. The move was not universally popular. How could a teenager ever be sufficiently sagacious to deserve an opinion on the running of the country? This was the 1970s: Britain was being run like a wheezing train about to derail on a branch line.
It was not self-evident, in any case, that you needed many qualifications to exercise the franchise. Back then, an informed British electorate was defined by the ability to remember which one was Harold and which was Ted while muttering that voting never changed anything. Only in Scotland, where the SNP managed to pick up half a dozen MPs in the first of 1974′s festivities, did that insight produce a reaction.