Opinion: Liberal Youth has changed for the better and I see promise of more

Following Sean Davey’s thought-provoking post on the upcoming elections of new Liberal Youth officers, I wanted to offer support and some further thoughts. In agreement, Sean is right to point out that LY cannot allow its incoming officers, along with the existing ones, to indulge in coasting or long-winded bickering and risk over-shadowing the hugely important work of LY in campaigning.

Sean also raises the issue of LY’s lack of diversity as a problem. I totally agree that we can’t allow things to stay as they are, and after some initial concerns I back the Candidate Leadership Program. However, there might be a risk of getting so hooked on ensuring “diverse” people (I speak as one myself!) getting posts and positions that it can both patronise them if used as tokens and also have a negative effect by then alienating other people — ie, providing they are assessed fairly and are good at what they do, ‘male and pale’ men have a place too.

The Liberal Democrats should be proud of LY. Whilst the accusation has often been made that LY has been too introverted, I pay respect to the previous chair, Tom Wood, and current Acting Chair, Harry Matthews, for doing the very outreach that allowed me to get involved.

The final point from Sean’s article I want to refer to is how much I agree that it’s down to the likes of me to stand up and get involved and not just shout from the side-lines. I found tremendous support from the recent LY conference in Manchester and along with Tom and Harry, I also wish to mention Stuart Brown, William Dyer and Stuart Wheatcroft as being especially welcoming, as well as other members of LY. I mention names because I wish to pay them credit, but also because many of those mentioned are current LY exec members and I want to show we already have talent present.

So yes, get involved! Yes, LY needs to keep working hard at campaigning (Bears for Belarus, anyone?) and most importantly – the whole LibDem party needs to back LY anyway it can, as we keep telling ourselves – they are the next MPs, MEPs and Leaders and Presidents of our party – let’s help them be good ones!

* Lee Dargue is a member in Birmingham, Honorary Vice President of Liberal Youth and Chair of the Lib Dem Mental Health Association.

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