Liberal Youth Elections 2013… England Convenor: Stuart Wheatcroft

I have been a member of the Liberal Democrats since the end of 2005. Despite this, I had no serious involvement with Liberal Youth until early 2012. Liberal Youth was not an effective organisation nationally, and in my area it was non-existent.

A huge amount of progress has been made. Liberal Youth’s contribution to the campaign in Eastleigh has been widely recognised. The momentum has been continued through the Gold Guard project, with action days in key seats around the country and a huge membership engagement push at every level of the organisation. More must be done, but there has been huge progress.

If our campaigning has improved, our approach to recruitment has not. Having been a Liberal Youth branch chair and regional chair I know that branches face all sorts of challenges to recruitment, not all political in nature. If elected I will work with regional chairs and the Membership Development Officer to share best practice and to offer support wherever possible.

More generally, I believe that Liberal Youth needs a new approach to branches. We should be engaging with branches individually and working out what they need on a case-by-case basis. If elected I will work with regional chairs to agree a “branch contract” with each branch. Some branches might need financial support; some might want help arranging guest speakers; others might need some extra pairs of hands for a campaigning event. Liberal Youth should help.

We also must not forget those members who do not have a local branch. I will support regional chairs to engage with these members and will share the evidence of what is successful. For example, some members might like regional or sub-regional social events. Others might prefer to engage online. I don’t pretend to have all the answers – nobody does – but we have to ask the questions.

Alongside my specific agenda, I would like to highlight an aspect of the Convenor’s role which is easily overlooked.

The Convenor is a key voice for Liberal Youth within the party. He or she attends English Council and English Council Executive, bodies which provide a substantial proportion of Liberal Youth’s budget.

Maintaining a good working relationship with the members of these bodies is arguably the single most important thing that any Convenor can do for Liberal Youth. This has not always happened in the past, and the consequences were nearly catastrophic for the organisation.

As Convenor (and Deputy before that) I have continued the work of others to repair the damage that was done. If elected I will make sure it does not happen again.

To summarise, I want a Liberal Youth that is an active campaigning force. I want a Liberal Youth that works closely with its members and branches. Above all, I want a Liberal Youth that can advance the liberal – and Liberal Democrat – cause. I have the experience to deliver, and I hope that I will have your support.

Voting in the Liberal Youth elections opens on Friday 3 May and continues until 12 noon on Wednesday 29th May. All candidates for the contested officer positions have been offered a 500 word piece on Liberal Democrat Voice to be published by the opening of voting. You can find out more about the elections and read all the candidates’ manifestos on the Libertine and if you are a member of  Liberal Youth you can ask them questions on their National Liberal Youth Chatbox on Facebook. Discussion also takes place on the #lyelects tag on Twitter. 

* Stuart Wheatcroft is a member of the Liberal Youth England executive.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds and Party policy and internal matters.

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