Should 16 and 17-year-olds get the Scottish vote? We asked them...

Pupils of Selkirk High School were asked their opinions about Scottish independence. Caitlin Tait aged 17 from Selkirk.
Pupils of Selkirk High School were asked their opinions about Scottish independence. Caitlin Tait aged 17 from Selkirk.

WE need more information before deciding on Scotland’s future.

That was the message of students at Selkirk High who discussed the impending referendum with TheSouthern.

Pupils of Selkirk High School were asked their opinions about Scottish independence. Mairi Chisholm aged 17 from Selkirk.

Pupils of Selkirk High School were asked their opinions about Scottish independence. Mairi Chisholm aged 17 from Selkirk.

We spoke to a fifth-year modern studies class at the school about the prospect of Scotland separating from its English neighbours and being an independent nation.

And we also discussed whether they agreed with the decision to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in 2014.

While the majority felt it was right to allow the previously excluded age bracket to take part in the referendum, many admitted they did not yet fully understand the debate about their country’s future.

Selkirk High rector Wilma Burgon agreed, telling TheSouthern: “The important thing is that the pupils are informed enough to make a decision.”

Pupils of Selkirk High School were asked their opinions about Scottish independence. Danny Alexander aged 16 from Selkirk.

Pupils of Selkirk High School were asked their opinions about Scottish independence. Danny Alexander aged 16 from Selkirk.

The issue of 16 and 17-year-olds voting proved a major sticking point with David Cameron during discussions with Alex Salmond, before the Prime Minister eventually agreed to the ground-breaking move last week.

Mr Salmond said: “What is absolutely vital is that all 16 and 17-year-olds are in a position to have their say if the Referendum Bill includes proposals to give them the vote.

“It would be totally unsatisfactory to be in a situation where some of those in that age bracket were able to vote but others were not because of the way the electoral roll is currently constructed.

“This bill will close that potential loophole and make sure that every single person in Scotland who is aged 16 or over on the day of the referendum will be in a position to vote.”

Pupils of Selkirk High School were asked their opinions about Scottish independence. Tom Campbell aged 16 from Selkirk.

Pupils of Selkirk High School were asked their opinions about Scottish independence. Tom Campbell aged 16 from Selkirk.

Borders MSP Christine Grahame, of the SNP party, added: “I am particularly delighted that 16 and 17-year-olds will have the right to vote in what will determine not just the future of Scotland but their futures.”

However, any thoughts that young people will flock to the Yes camp appear – at the moment at least – to be unfounded.

In a poll by a national Sunday newspaper, only 26 per cent of 14 and 15-year-old pupils in 24 schools across the country believed Scotland should be independent.

Selkirk High’s fourth year children took part in the survey – and the results make for grimmer reading for SNP supporters.

Pupils of Selkirk High School were asked their opinions about Scottish independence. Skye Shiell, aged 16 from Selkirk.

Pupils of Selkirk High School were asked their opinions about Scottish independence. Skye Shiell, aged 16 from Selkirk.

While 82.6 per cent of Souter students felt 16 and 17-year-olds should be allowed to vote, only 22.1 per cent believe Scotland should go it alone.

It appears there is plenty more work to be done to convince the Borders’ youngsters that Scotland should wave goodbye to its closest neighbour in two years time.