Maddy Planche: Young people do care about politics

This weekend we’re publishing all the speeches from Alex Cole-Hamilton’s launch event as Scottish Lib Dem leader. Maddy Planche, a student and activist from Edinburgh, who is definitely one to watch for the future, introduced Alex and talked about how he had listened to her and taken her seriously when she first got involved.

For as long as politics has been around, there has always been the assumption that young people just don’t care enough about it. It doesn’t take much to notice that at this current point in time, you could not be further from the truth. In fact, I’m the third young person to be speaking today.

Young people, just like the rest of society, look at the world and are worried. We’re worried about the ever-impending climate crisis, worried about whether we can be treated equally to our peers, worried about a lack of meaningful action.

We’re frustrated but that doesn’t mean we don’t care. We are constantly watching a wheel that is not turning fast enough and we cannot wait to jump at it and push it ourselves. So, we do, in our droves.

That is why I first got involved in politics, because I want progress and I want it to come faster. It’s what drew me to the Liberal Democrats. We do not create policies simply for the sake of being palatable. What underpins our liberalism is our belief that everyone should have the freedom and choice to make in life what they want of it, but they are not always given the right tools to do so.

We fight tooth and nail for this belief. That is why we’re the party best placed to get the wheel turning.

When I did first get involved, I didn’t quite know what to expect. When I turned up to my first canvassing session (eighteen, very nervous) I half expected to hate it, never go to another session but at least tell my university tutor on the Monday morning that I had tried politics in the ‘real world’.

Instead, I was pleasantly surprised. People that I was worried would not take me seriously enough because of my lack of age and experience instead appreciated my presence and made it vocal they did so. One of these people was Alex Cole-Hamilton.

For those that have not met him, Alex is focussed and enthusiastic to everyone he speaks to.

From my experience with him (unlike lots of politicians) Alex does not simply go out talking to people to win votes. He does it simply because he loves it.

In fact, a common reaction when someone answers the door is “Oh it’s you again”. One person even told me, that she had seen Alex around so much, he even started appearing in her dreams.

He will listen as attentively to someone that is pleased to see him (which they often are) or someone annoyed to see him (especially the case if you interrupt their tea). This is because he has a genuine interest in how people think politicians could be doing a better job.

That is the one thing, above all, I have taken from Alex. Belief in people. The belief in people to be extraordinary, to create a better society and a better world if only given the opportunities in which to do so.

There is no shying away from the fact, that as a party, we have a huge challenge ahead of us. And perhaps as a country, we face an even greater one.

We need someone at the helm that has spent their whole career fighting for progress. Someone that will prioritise it above all else. Someone that is not afraid to fight for it. But most importantly, someone that will do it with an unwavering focus on what matters most, the people who need it.

It gives me the greatest pleasure to introduce that someone to the stage. Everyone, our next leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Alex Cole-Hamilton

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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