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It's wrong to let young people vote in the referendum when they can't buy drink

The First Minister has shown recently that he is a classic example of an adult incapable of setting clear boundaries for teenagers.

His wish to have 16 and 17 year olds vote in the referendum for independence is wholly inconsistent with what general legislation in Scotland and the UK sets out as legal do's and don't's for young people.

Picture the scene in Bute House between a hypothetical 16-year-old and Mr Salmond.

Q: Can I go out for a drink with my friends?

A: Absolutely not. It's illegal for you youngsters to drink before the age of 18. And besides the minimal alcohol pricing I've been wanting to bring in will mean your pocket money won't even cover  a pint.

Q: Well, can't I be paid the same as others I work with? I only get £3.68 an hour.

A: In a word, no.

Q: Can I start driving the car?

A: You're too young and have you any idea about insurance rates these days?

Q: Can I go to university early?

A: They won't take you, unless you've completed your Highers early.

Q: Can I vote in a general election?

A: Cameron says no.

Q: Can I vote in a referendum which will decide Scotland's future and could single handedly be the biggest change to my country in over 300 years?

A: Absolutely.

All the SNP want from 16 and 17 year olds is a one-night stand and, after 2014, young people will have to go back to waiting for another two years to be legally recognised in other aspects of society.

Yes, a lot of those rights are still controlled by Westminster, but the referendum on independence is being hailed as the most important decision Scotland has made in 300 years.

Why would you trust young people to be part of this decision and yet not let them drive? At the moment I think you could do more damage voting in favour of independence than getting behind the wheel of a car beside a driving instructor.

However, it shouldn't only be 16 year old ears that prick up at the sound of more responsibility, since this proposal would also affects 14 year olds who will turn 16 by 2014. Once the date of the referendum has been decided young people will have to register to vote. The dawn of maturity will have to come sooner than 16.

People who can't even go to the cinema to watch 15 rated films such as Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy would have to decide if they wanted to be part of this great decision.

At the end of the day we'll all need a drink after the result of the referendum either to celebrate or commiserate. Surely it would be unfair to leave under 18s who helped make the decision out of the pub?

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