Tag Archives: liberal youth

Liberal Youth’s International Officer elected Vice President of the International Federation of Liberal Youth

IFLRY

From left: Sven Gerst, Tone Bjorndal, Pauline Kastermans, Danylo Korbabicz, Ab Brightman, Anders Rehnberg and Ahmad Al-Rachwani

Last weekend in Istanbul, at the General Assembly of the International Federation of Liberal Youth (IFLRY), I am extremely proud to say that I was elected Vice President!

For those unfamiliar, IFLRY is the Global umbrella organisation for liberal youth and student organisations around the world, of which Liberal Youth is affiliated to. IFLRY brings together an amazing community of young people, and has given so much to Liberal Youth members who get involved internationally, so I can only be excited at all the chances we get to repay it.

Liberal Youth has a long and successful relationship with IFLRY. I know that back in the days of LDYS we had members of IFLRY’s Bureau (that is, its Executive Committee) – and still today my election follows two years of our own Bobby Dean’s hard work as Vice President. Along with this, for the past two General Assemblies I have had the pleasure of leading one of the largest and most active delegations present, of Liberal Youth members.

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Liberal Youth calls for reserved places on party committees

Liberal Youth (soon to be the Young Liberals) has called for places to be reserved on party committees for its members, citing the success of this approach in Scotland and Wales.

In an open letter to the Federal Executive, published on the Libertine blog, LY co-chair Charlie Kingsbury said:

…it feels obvious now that Liberal Youth, now being the largest voting bloc in the party, to be intimately involved in the decision-making process of the wider party.

This is already the case in both Scotland and Wales, where appropriate executive officers of the relevant state organisations of Liberal Youth (Ieuenctid Rhyddfrydol Cymru and Liberal Youth Scotland) sit on their Conference, Campaigns, Policy, and Executive Committees. In England too, LY England members sit on the English Council and Executive. It strikes us as peculiar that the same settlement is not imitated federally: if the Welsh, Scottish and English Liberal Democrats are able to trust their respective youth wings, it is surprising that the Federal Party does not do the same.

Through including Liberal Youth in the party committees of the federal party (as it already does for the FPC), it sends a clear message that Liberal Youth and the wider party of the Liberal Democrats are working together for the purposes of promoting a more liberal United Kingdom, and not in opposition to each other. This is especially important after we highlighted a number of concerns regarding ageism in the party that do not seem to be reflected in Wales in particular, where Liberal Youth membership of their main committees is automatic.

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The party is listening to young people

Among Liberal Youth members’ criticisms of the recent York Conference, there is the frequent accusation of inherent ageism against the younger members of the party; as a 23 year old ‘young’ member I find this is overstated. Whilst there was one notable instance in a debate of a young man being called ‘naïve’, this is by no means the norm. Furthermore, the reaction in the room seemed to show the audience siding with the younger member. Of course there are members who dismiss the opinions of those younger than themselves, however to place this at the feet of the party itself is misguided. We cannot align some less-than-polite tweets and comments on social media with the establishment of the party as a whole.

In my experience of Liberal Democrat Conference, I have felt overwhelmingly welcomed by the Lib Dem community especially as a younger member. Often remarked is how nice it is to see lots of young people getting involved and this was evident in York. There was a considerable number of young brilliant speakers in all debates, including some very brave young women in the diversity motion. I am proud of all the ‘youth’ that spoke out as I am sure the majority of the party is as well. 

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The party needs to live its values in the way it treats young members

Imagine being a member of a political party which prides itself on policy crafted by individuals which are valued in their own right, not for their morally arbitrary characteristics. It shouldn’t be too hard to imagine, because it is what our party sells itself as. Now imagine that upon joining that party you are told that actually what you are is just a good pair of legs to deliver leaflets, that you should instead accept that some people know better than you as a consequence of again arbitrary characteristics, and that regardless of your actual experiences that people are right to make assumptions about your knowledge, intelligence, and capacity for thinking into the future.

I would imagine that sounds fairly grim to you, and of course I would naturally agree. The sad thing is that this is a reality for young members of our party which they experience almost daily. It is no more obvious than at party conferences, where regardless of one’s education, training and vocation, that one is deemed “naïve” as a consequence of one’s youth.

I’d like to say I was heartened by the gasps and boos following one such example during the fracking debate, and I dare say the speaker responsible will have learnt her lesson. However, the problem persists within the party, and was evidenced the next day on the controversial debate concerning AWS and ADS. Young speakers from both sides of the debate recalled times where either themselves or their friends had experienced unwanted advances and sexual harassment, only to be told later either that they were plainly wrong, or that they knew nothing about true sexism.

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Person X supports the legalisation of cannabis

 

“Person X supports the legalisation of cannabis” is quite a headline. For that person to be a sports star or celebrity generates some interest. For it to be a user of cannabis, it often generates derision.

If X is the leader of a political party, or a former government health minister, it surely is big news. This is why I joined, and have stayed a member, of the Liberal Democrats: to have radical, evidence-based policies which strike out as making us distinctive and pleased Norman Lamb has put a motion forward to conference for this policy, and please Tim Farron has supported it.

When it comes to policy-making, we are the party that prides itself most on having an evidence base. Some parties go for populism over evidence, whereas we often prefer radical policies. And some parties go on mainly grabbing headlines. These three elements are often at odds and one usually wins over the other.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 38 Comments

Watford Action Weekend

Watford march action day

After many months up in Hull, where I’m currently at University, I jumped at the chance to get back to my home turf of Watford for an action weekend, and what a weekend it was.

First things first, much of the credit has to go to Nassar who managed to get such a great turn out, including a large number of fellow Liberal Youth members, as well as an appearance by Mike Thornton, Jo Swinson, Duncan Hames and Norman Lamb. It was a fantastic weekend and if I heard correctly we managed to knock on over 5000 doors on Saturday alone! We all know what a challenge it is to organise Lib-Dems.

Secondly a massive thanks to the wonderful Richmonds who put up their home as our base of operations; to stand having 20+ Liberal Youth in your home is a feat that would make Hercules himself sweat with fear.

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The Libertine strikes back!

The Libertine is back!

For those of you who don’t know, The Libertine is Liberal Youth’s online blogging platform. It is quite similar to LDV in that its articles are written by Libdem members, its youth members. This means that we, like LDV, are always looking for new submissions and fresh topics for discussion.

As the title suggests, The Libertine has fallen out of use for a significant period of time. The LY exec asked for applications for the positions of co-editor, and selected myself and Tom Davies. We can be found at [email protected] or [email protected]. If you have any submissions please send them here.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 15 Comments
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