The young people from all the parties are an inspired and inspiring bunch, but it’s striking from the magazine article’s photos that Liberal Youth are the huggiest and most diverse. Ranging from “crisp-shirted” to “he of the elongated fringe”, the Liberal Youth contingent are a mixture of ages and backgrounds. Sadly the Liberal Youth photo only made it into the print edition (magazine front page, no less) so the online version features the Young Labour photo instead.
Here’s the Observer’s take on Liberal Youth:
The party for the politically precocious, Liberal Youth is the only organisation that doesn’t operate a minimum age for membership (Young Labour and Conservative Future are for over-15s). The 12-year-old Claire Boad, who would like to juggle a modelling career with becoming the first female Lib Dem prime minister, is by no means the youngest. Her father – wearing a coalition badge that says: “We may be together, but we’re in separate beds” – tells me that her younger brother Simon, eight, could teach me a thing or two about politics.
Maelo Manning, also 12, and wearing trainers with the slogan “I ❤ cupcakes”, describes herself as a “child feminist” and has 120,000 followers at Libdemchild.com. She wants to study PPE at university, followed by a masters, then a career in ethical investment banking. “But I might drop economics,” she tells me matter-of-factly.
The other parties goad them about their open-door policy (“It’s really scraping the barrel getting the 12-year-olds in!”), but the Lib Dems banter back. “We’re definitely the weirdest party,” laughs 15-year-old Matt Downey from Cambridge – he of the elongated fringe – “and you get a lot of outcasts, a lot of different, mad opinions. We have a laugh with it.” Noticeably this is the only group that isn’t entirely white.
Liberal Youth has managed to pilfer from Labour and the Tories. Amanda Garoes-Hill, a 19-year-old raised in Bradford in a lone-parent family, ditched Labour after it abolished the 10p tax rate: “It made me realise they did not represent the disadvantaged.” Then there’s Harry Matthews, a crisp-shirted university student who aced his Eton entrance interview after he gave a speech in praise of Iain Duncan Smith. In 2010, after watching Nick Clegg’s live pre-election appeal on TV, he had an “identity crisis” and switched parties: “I was shocked. I just thought: ‘I agree with a lot of this.’”
The other kids call them fickle. “Oh, new, shiny Nick Clegg!” they tease, sounding like characters from The Inbetweeners. “It’s the new party that hasn’t been in power for 70 years!”
How do they feel now that their leader’s golden hour is over? “We were caught between a rock and hard place when the coalition was elected, and whatever we had done would have been wrong,” says Harry, shrugging.
Read the full piece (and see if you can spot a future Prime Minister) here.