Co-operative politics is about sharing power and giving a voice to ordinary people on the decisions that impact them. Wales is leading the way, with new legislation introduced to the Welsh Assembly this week to give 16- and 17-year-olds the vote - and it's time for Westminster to do the same.

For months, Brexit has dominated the political agenda, so you would be forgiven for missing the Welsh Assembly’s historic first step this week in finally lowering the voting age to 16. Once again, Wales’ Labour Government is leading the way on empowering young people and strengthening our democracy.

Back in 2016, I campaigned tirelessly both for our Welsh Labour and Co-operative Assembly members and to keep our EU membership. However, I couldn’t actually vote – the Tories looked at my generation and decided we couldn’t be trusted with a vote that would decide our own future. Nine years into a Conservative government pursuing a brutal austerity agenda, life hasn’t always been easy for young people, so I welcome the bill introduced this week to the Welsh Assembly which would lower the voting age to 16, empowering young people to make their voices heard at the ballot box.

Engaging young people has always been a priority for the co-operative movement. Co-operative Party policy is committed to a lower voting age and it was Co-operative MP Jim McMahon who introduced a private members bill aiming to lower the voting age back in 2017, before it was delayed.

Now, more than ever before, young people up and down the nation are getting involved in politics. In the last General Election, 18-24-year olds showed up to vote in their highest numbers in decades, ripping away Theresa May’s majority. In our local elections, we have elected more young co-operators than ever before, placing young people at the heart of our decision-making processes. To continue making progress, it is vital that we harness the energy of our young people and lowering the voting age to 16 is a great first step.

Now, it’s time for the rest of the UK to follow Wales’ lead. Young people have a unique and important voice, one that too often goes unheard. Let’s welcome this new generation of voters with open arms, elect more young people at all levels of government and fight for a better, stronger democracy.