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Last Updated: Friday April 29 2005 07:14 GMT

I debated like a real politician

15-year-old Polly argued against lowering the voting age in the Houses of Parliament
Politicians spend a lot of their time debating what should be made law.

Fifteen-year-old Polly stepped into the shoes of an MP when she took part in a student debate at the Houses of Parliament.

She joined her class-mates and pupils from three other schools to debate whether the voting age should be lowered to 16.

"It was interesting to see the debate moving so well. There was a lot of information gathering on such a controversial issue.

Some people think that governmental decisions are made by a handful of people in jackets and suits. But that's not the case.

Lots of people carefully debate the issues, taking lots of facts and information into consideration. It was really enjoyable to take part in that process.

I loved the public speaking. It's exciting to imagine it was a real debate and were all making a real contribution to society.

Closing speech

15-year-old Polly makes her closing speech
Polly summing up the arguments in her closing speech
I made the closing speech for the opposition. This means I gave an overview of all the arguments used by people arguing NOT to lower the voting age.

My speech reminded people of facts they perhaps missed during the debate, just before we took a vote.

We voted by walking back into the debating chamber throiugh one of two doors, marked aye and no.

Twenty-six people voted to lower the voting age to 16 and 40 people voted not to change it.

That meant my side won and I was really happy I'd put across a good enough debate.

My three main arguments for NOT lowering the voting age were:

  • 16-year-olds aren't mature enough to vote. They are still finding themselves at that age.
  • Just because 16-year-olds are allowed to smoke, it doesn't mean they should also be able to vote. In fact, the law around smoking needs looking at again.
  • Just because 16-year-olds can't vote, it doesn't mean that they can't get involved in politics. They can join the UK Youth Parliament for example.
Debating is important

Debate ensures that decisions are taken for the benefit of most people. If a small number of experts made decisions, there wouldn't be a wide enough range of perspctives.

A heated debate takes place
A heated debate takes place
Politicians however, can look at expert information AND take into account the views of lots of people.

Question Time

I like the debating style of some news presenters, like David Dimbleby on Question Time. He gets down to the core issue by asking the questions that everybody is thinking.

Top tips

My top three debating tips are:

  • Prepare well before hand. Make sure you have information, facts and figures to hand.
  • Believe in what you are saying and remind yourself that other people believe in it too.
  • Be confident in what you say and don't worry about what other people think.

Polly, 15, Wiltshire


The debate was organised by the Parliamentary Education Unit. For more information about student debates, please email edunit@parliament.uk


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