Author Archives: Daniel Newton

Keeping Young People in the Liberal Democrats 

We all know losing can be disappointing. As someone who was heavily involved in the Vote Layla campaign, it might not come as a shock that I was disappointed in the result of the leadership election. It goes without saying that I will rally behind our new leader, but I will make no bones about it: addressing the biggest issue facing our party for the last 10 years will be considerably harder.

The issue we face is a mass exodus of members that are disillusioned and disenfranchised, particularly younger members. When campaigning in the leadership election, I encountered countless people who had already cancelled their membership or were about to, because they saw our party as irrelevant and uninspiring. On top of that and more specifically, over the first 24 hours of the announcement of the new leader, I witnessed a number of previously active young people in the Liberal Democrats cancel their memberships and look for other political homes. 

This trend doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon. A poll recently showed that the Greens are ahead of us in terms of young people voting intention. As the party that used to be the home of students, of the alternative voice, of the anti-establishment and of the progressive, it is imperative that we return in some way to this narrative, or risk fizzling out of existence.

Luckily for us, being low in the polls gives us a chance to do exactly this. Yes, we do need to be relevant to ordinary voters by returning to speak about policies people want to hear, not just policies Liberal Democrats like to hear. But I argue that, in the long term, it is more vital we stay relevant and inspiring to young people if we ever want to be competitive to other parties.

One particular example of us doing the opposite to the above was the issue of the environment. In the 2019 GE, it was such a hot topic and such a unique moment for us to reinspire young people nationally, especially when we had caught their attention on the Brexit issue. Instead, however, we ended up looking out of touch because we had a carbon neutral target that appeared less ambitious than our rivals.

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