Tag Archives: young liberals

Young Liberals launch annual freshers campaign

The Young Liberals have launched their annual recruitment campaign which will feature in universities all over the country, leading with a “Stop Brexit” campaign.

The Liberal Democrat youth wing produces materials for students to launch into a year of campaigning on their campus, and to recruit new members at university Freshers Fayres.

This year, the Young Liberals will be campaigning on ‘Stop Brexit’, ‘Demand Action’ , ‘Demand Dignity’ , and ‘Teach Love’ . The youth wing will be running the period poverty campaign on university campuses which do not already provide free menstrual products, and the LGBT inclusive education campaign on campuses which do provide such products.

In addition to these, the state and London bodies of Young Liberals are also running campaigns this year, in Wales on expanding the provision of the Welsh language on campus (‘More Welsh’), in Scotland on the reforms to the Gender Recognition Act (‘Trans Rights are Human Rights’), and in London welcoming the Freshers who will be studying in the city at the time of the mayoral election (‘A Mayor for You’).

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We are the only party that truly stands for my generation

Young Liberals on stage at the Spring Conference 2019

The party is currently on a fightback, our gains in both the Local and the European elections proving that this is the case. These results clearly indicate that our pro-EU message is a prominent one across the country.

Yet, this isn’t the only thing that these results show. These results, and subsequent polling afterwards, suggest that the Liberal Democrats are overwhelmingly the party representing the views of young people too. Currently a student studying for her A-Levels, I know the party truly stands for the values and principles that I believe in.

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Addressing our lack of diversity

It’s long been accepted that diversity in the Liberal Democrats is patchy at best. 

Often our lack of diversity is compounded by a lack of understanding of what causes it, and how we work to make sure we better reflect society in an inclusive and meaningful way.

Diversity comes in many forms, and this often makes it difficult for us to develop strategies to expand our membership in a diverse manner.

In the Young Liberals we’re acutely aware of this issue and want to ensure that we are doing everything we can to help make us more accessible, understanding and mindful of people from diverse backgrounds.

In 2018 the Alderdice report delved into this issue and found that, on all levels of the party, racial diversity often fell so far down the priority list that it often got forgotten about completely.

The report’s findings, endorsed by Federal Board, placed a responsibility on the party, and all it’s constituent parts, to draw up a strategic response to it and its findings. 

Indeed, the Federal Party has recently created a Vice President BAME role to help shape our interactions with the BAME community.

That is why we’re working with LDCRE (Liberal Democrat Campaign for Race Equality) to try and fix this issue. 

We’re working to develop a new “BAME Officer” role and overhaul our existing diversity system to ensure it encompasses and represents all liberation groups. 

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We must safeguard our younger members and be radical – reasons why we should not raise the age limit for Young Liberals

It has been the buzz for years and the main topic within our echo chamber of an organisation: the Young Liberals want to raise the membership age ceiling from 26 to 30. But this isn’t the type of “raise the roof” action that the organisation should be taking.

In previous articles written, you’ve heard about the issues that the Young Liberals face. Yet, at the same time, you can be a supporter of our campaigns and guide us without being in the organisation. We already turn to our elected members, local parties and other inspirational people in the party for guidance and wisdom, so why does being in the Young Liberals after the age of 26 matter? Instead, we hope that members are mature enough to see that some major issues aren’t being addressed in these reforms.

There is a widespread belief that these reforms have been overwhelmingly and unanimously supported within the Young Liberals’ membership, but we beg to differ. At their Glasgow Conference, we were told the idea was met with an astounding approval. Yet with approximately 35 members present at the conference, this is not, and cannot be, a fair representation of the organisation.

And at the same conference, members of the organisation under 18 were informed they had to not only get written consent to attend the conference, but also were not allowed to stay at the hostel where the conference was taking place. The reason given was:

This year Young Liberals have made the decision not to offer accommodation to members under the age of 18. (…) Young Liberals are not sufficiently trained to adequately safeguard such members (…) such training could be in place for future Young Liberals Conferences, however not for current conferences. Members are free to stay in private accommodation in the city.

This was unacceptable. How can our organisation not have in place the proper training to include all our members? Letting them stay off the premises is not any safer, neglects their safety and ignores their accommodation needs.

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Young Liberals need your help!

Young people are such an important part of our party. Not only do we offer an army of eager campaigners and young candidates, we also help speak up for youth issues and ensure the party has this voice on things it may otherwise overlook.

The Young Liberals are committed to ensuring that the voices of all young people are heard and represented, and this is why we need your help.

At our Spring Conference in Glasgow, we passed a motion to explore increasing the age range of our membership.

The way it works at the moment is that you are automatically a member of the Young Liberals if you are under 26. This is significantly lower than our European counterparts, who’s youth wings tend to encompass everyone under 35.

We feel this limits our ability to represent the issues facing young professionals and those who don’t attend University. This is due to those people who leave University taking a step back from the Young Liberals, failing to see how we are relevant to them given they’ll age out soon anyhow.

Posted in Op-eds | 4 Comments

This weekend’s march is about so much more than a vote on the Brexit deal

Brexit March Brexit March

In Parliament, MPs have been debating on (and rejecting) this botched Tory deal. Beyond Parliament, young people have been watching on in horror and disbelief. As a wealthy Brexit elite, red in the face, tell themselves to hold their nerve, it’s clear that they’ve got no regard for our future.

Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn? They just aren’t listening – they are completely detached from reality. They’re causing embarrassment on an international scale, the world over the country we love is a laughing stock. It’s shameful, and history will look harshly on the perpetrators of this chaotic mess.

I’m 20 years old, less than a month off of voting on the 23rd of June 2016. There are almost 2 million like me who can now vote. The fact is that the UK does not want Brexit anymore, and young people just like me deserve a say on our future. The British people deserve the right to a final say now we’ve got a deal on the table, and not some fanciful, wildly unrealistic ideal.

Before our very eyes, my generation is seeing jobs and investment sapped out of the UK. We’re seeing our futures – lives that should be spent with the right to live, love and work freely across 28 nations, the largest free trade area in human history – all being snatched away from us. It would be dystopian if the last three years hadn’t numbed us all to this warped reality.

Posted in News and Op-eds | Also tagged | 17 Comments

Young Liberals need reform – and we need your help!

Young people play a vital role in the party. Beyond our ability to deliver vast sums of leaflets, or to liven up that local party picture, we shape the Liberal Democrats. We stand for public office; we lobby for youth issues and representation, we ensure that as society changes the party changes with it. However, lately the boundaries of who is young have changed, and the Young Liberals need to change too. That is why we are looking at possible structural reforms, including raising the automatic membership age cut off from 26 to 30.

No longer can even the luckiest of us expect a job straight out of education; more and older graduates have to turn to internships for work. As house prices skyrocket, moving out of the parental home is taking longer. Moreover, with the tendency to remain in education, even the culture and lifestyle associated with youth has come to be applied to a broader age range. With these changes in society, the political landscape has changed too. The needs of those preparing to leave school and the needs of those in their late twenties are more closely aligned than ever before. Ending long-term unpaid work, tackling the housing crisis, improving representation in education, and increasing funding for mental health care are just some examples of policies that would have a disproportionate impact on all of us under 30.

However, the Young Liberals as an organisation has been struggling to represent these needs. It is no secret that we have suffered deepening institutional memory problems as a result of these societal changes. Students now make up such a large part of our constituent members that it’s hard for us to develop a network capable of serving our school leavers and young professions. Our lives have also become more defined by instability – such as moves abroad or in and out of education. These sudden radical changes in circumstances can render members unable to contribute in the way they have done before, and so the consistency in the quality of our work has taken a hit. By virtue of our membership and structure it is getting pretty tough to run ourselves well, and if Young Liberals as an organisation cannot run well then all our members whether in their twenties or still in their teens lose out.

Posted in News and Op-eds | 16 Comments

Friends of Young Liberals: Launch

For many of us, the Lib Dems aren’t just a political party, but a political family too. We don’t just campaign together, but we socialise together, chat together, make friends, and in some cases, meet future partners, husbands, wives. Moreover, for many Lib Dems that I have spoken to, the Young Liberals (under any of its many former names) have played an integral part in that, providing a way for liberal-minded young people to get stuck in and meet others like them.

Moreover, the Young Liberals of today carry on as the legendary “golden generation” of the past did: we work up and down the country, flooding into campaigns in by-elections, distributing Focus leaflets to students, holding social events and conferences throughout the UK, and contributing to the party at all levels.

We try to shout about our work as much as possible, but I often hear people say that they wish they could keep in touch with Young Liberals and hear about our successes as well as our views and opinions more often.

That’s why, with the help of the current Young Liberals Executive, I am today launching a scheme called Friends of Young Liberals, which aims to help people do exactly that.

Posted in News and Op-eds | 8 Comments

Young Liberals launch Young & Winning 2019 to support young candidates

It’s no secret that this year is going to be big for us Liberal Democrats, and the Young Liberals are no exception.

Last year, we provided thousands to young candidates across the country. We contributed to getting some fantastic young councillors elected, now serving their community.

In 2019 we’re doing the same with more support to elect young councillors. The aim is to give young people the community voice which they deserve and need.

This support can range from grants for literature to subsidised action days and more.

In 2018, we supported almost every candidate that applied. In almost every case, young candidates we supported saw increase in vote share. Many were successful in their bids, some came within less than 10 votes of taking their ward.

It’s clear to me that we need more young voices in local government. It’s clear that we can make that happen, and it’s imperative that we do.

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The past can be useful

My wife, Ruth, has had a collection of boxes, originally some 30 strong, in which she stored both personal and political stuff, waiting for the opportune moment to open them and sort out the treasure trove within.

That job is now underway and there are minutes of both NLYL and ULS as well as a huge collection of newsletters produced by all manner of Liberal activists in the late sixties and seventies. Radical Bulletin, Gunfire, New Outlook, Liberator and a whole raft of local stuff from Young Liberal and Liberal Student groups from Scotland to Cornwall. It even included some copies of Clockwork Orange, a Manchester ULS publication that I started in 1971/2 and that was then carried on by Pat Coleman.

Political discourse in the 60s and 70s was carried out by meeting and pamphlet.

Ruth reminded me that Young Liberal branches often met weekly to discuss politics and campaigns, actually campaigned most weekends and met up socially as well.

There were frequent conferences on political issues and both the Young Liberals and the Liberal Party had council meetings on a regular basis (the ‘Council’ was the policymaking body between Conferences), primarily on political issues.

Liberal Party Constituency and branch meetings were at least monthly. In short, our politics centred on meeting together, talking about ideas and putting them down on paper for discussion in order to get out and campaign together.

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The Liberal Democrats are part of ALDE, and will stay a part of ALDE

Two weeks ago liberals from across Europe gathered together in Madrid to debate policy, receive training and pass a new manifesto for next year’s European Parliament elections. This new manifesto reflects the commitment of liberals from across the EU to our shared European values. It is a manifesto which seeks to bring all Europeans together; and because of the efforts of European Liberal Youth (LYMEC)’s delegation, it reflects the views and aspirations of young people from across the continent. Indeed, there were few delegations as active or as well prepared as LYMEC’s.

At …

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The South East region: Increasing youth membership is essential for political survival.

Tilly Russell and I were elected as the new Young Liberals (YL) Regional Chairs for the South East; the first thing that we would like to say is a huge ‘thank you’ to everybody that voted for us.

For us both, the region is one of those places that is close to our hearts. Both Tilly and I have lived here for the whole of our lives, it is and always has been our home. We’ve both worked here, studied here and campaigned here. We are both truly honoured that we were chosen to represent it, increasing youth engagement is essential for political survival.

Like us, if you too live in the South East region, you will feel the same. However, this feeling alone is not enough. It is now time to put our feelings into action, we need to carry on fighting for what we believe in. We not only want to re-light a flame that has seemingly disappeared in some areas, but instead start a fire. I know that this is a bold statement to make but we truly believe that it is possible.

And we, as the South East Young Liberals, have started to do that already. The above picture shows some of the successes that we’ve had. These include candidates standing in by-elections, campaigning for a Peoples Vote and organising the biggest Fresher’s campaign yet. 

During the election campaign, Tilly and I created a manifesto explaining how we would go about doing just that. It centres around three core pledges: more events; increased online development and, most importantly, empowering the membership.

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Working together – What I learned at the LYMEC’s Young Leaders Summit

Three weeks ago I was lucky enough to attend the Young Leaders’ Meeting in Budapest hosted by European Liberal Youth (LYMEC). The aim of the weekend was to work on LYMEC’s manifesto for the upcoming European elections, as well as to make contacts and receive valuable training on campaigning and leadership.

Our first evening was comprised mostly of introductions, both to each other and to each other’s national political situations. The president of youth wing of the Hungarian liberal movement Momentum welcomed us, highlighting how hard it was to be liberal openly in the current situation in Hungary, with a far right prime-minister and government. He also spoke about the sacrifices he had to give personally in order to promote liberal and Eurocentric politics in Hungary. Throughout the weekend, we heard emotional and inspiring stories from various national leaders and members of the bureau; for example, LYMEC’s policy officer, Antoaneta Asenova, spoke about the countdown to Bulgaria joining the EU and how the national bank displayed a countdown timer, emphasising the support for a European and outward-looking country. It seemed a harsh contrast to many of the Brexit countdown timers we have at the moment in the UK, and it reinforced that now, more than ever, we need to work with our European allies in order to continue to promote internationalism in the UK and  also how fundamental Europe is to our vision as liberals.

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Young Liberals launch the biggest recruitment campaign of the year

Every year, the Liberal Democrats turn to the Young Liberals to launch and run one of the party’s biggest recruitment events – the Freshers campaign.

In this campaign, Young Liberals (formerly Liberal Youth) across the country will descend upon their Students Unions to attend Freshers Fairs and recruit new young and student members. Our largest branches enjoyed hundreds signing up for mailing last year.

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Young Liberals To Host European Liberal Youth Congress In 2019

Next year is a big year for the UK. With our exit from the EU set to happen at the end of March, Britain is all but guaranteed to see its influence in the world declined. The fact of the reality is that outside of the EU, the United Kingdom matters far less in world politics than we did as a member of it. Unfortunately, this is also true for the Liberal Democrats. Leaving the EU not only deprives us of the opportunity to elect MEPs, but also places us in an awkward position within ALDE. No longer a member of the EU, but still able to influence its policies.

While many in our sister parties recognise that the Liberal Democrats is a party of committed Europeans, Brexit has still changed the way they view us. In last year’s ALDE bureau elections, for the first time, no Lib Dem was elected. While within European Liberal Youth (LYMEC), there are clear signs of anti-British feeling because of the Brexit vote coming from some of its members.

Fortunately, there are many within both ALDE and LYMEC who recognise that Young Liberals and the Liberal Democrats are committed Europeans. That is why I am delighted to announce that Young Liberals will be hosting LYMEC’s Autumn Congress in 2019.

The LYMEC Bureau believes that this is an opportunity for our fellow young European liberals to show support and unity with Young Liberals here in the UK. With LYMEC President, Svenja Hahn telling Young Liberals:

Brexit has become the synonym for insecurity and uncertainty. In times like these liberals have to unite and stand up for each other and our shared values. We want to bring our autumn 2019 congress to the UK to show that the European young liberals will stand with our British friends in European solidarity!

I couldn’t agree more.

As we battle against the increasingly extreme, nationalist and illiberal politics we are seeing in the Labour and the Conservatives, it is more important than ever that we maintain a strong and independent liberal British voice internationally. With around 130 delegates from 33 European countries coming to the UK, next year’s Autumn Congress allows Young Liberals to do just that.

Posted in Op-eds | 5 Comments

The Young Liberals need to take themselves more seriously… and the party does too

When I joined the party eight years ago I was surprised at the disdain some held for the Young Liberals (formerly Liberal Youth). Infighting, popularity contests and a distinct lack of coherent long-term objectives are all things which have came to epitomise the Young Liberals, and sadly much of that is true.

Our party can be daunting for young members so when I joined the party back in 2010 the thing which kept me involved was the youth wing. The knowledge that, somewhere within the party, there was a person not too dissimilar from me who was able to speak out …

Posted in Op-eds and Party policy and internal matters | 9 Comments

Book Review – Power to the People: Confessions of a Young Liberal Activist 1975 – 1987 by Felix Dodds

Felix Dodds, who was Chair of the National League of Young Liberal (NLYL) 1985-1987 and led the so-called Green Guard, inheritors of the late 60s/early 70s YLs Red Guard mantle, wrote this book to inspire and give hope to today’s young people at a time when politics seems a much more cynical and jaded business than the last time we had a Tory female Prime Minister and were arguing about Europe.

Dodds ‘confessions’ tell of his involvement with the YLs starting as a 6th former in Hertfordshire, having been inspired by the Kennedy …

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Young Liberals react to Universities strike

Teachers and professors are amongst the most trusted and respected professions in the UK, so says IPSOS Mori’s 2017 Veracity Index. Changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), the pension scheme serving over 190,000 university staff in 92 higher education institutions, have shown no respect for lecturers and professors, alienating a huge number of academic staff and lowering morale on campus by asking them to do the same amount of work for less money.
Young Liberals, the youth and student wing of the Liberal Democrats, voted in their Winter Conference to support an emergency motion calling for Universities UK …

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Fresh Faces and Fresh Ideas: Join the Liberal Youth Freshers’ Fair Campaign

It’s that time of year to start thinking about Freshers’ fairs. The party’s new Youth and Student Development Officer, Vicky Nevin, told us about this year’s plans:

Freshers’ Fairs are a great way to engage new young members with the Liberal Democrats. The effort and enthusiasm young people can bring to the party is incredibly beneficial; they provide fresh ideas to old problems and spark energy into local campaigns.

Time is of the essence to begin preparations as deadlines for booking stalls at Universities/Colleges and their Students’ Unions are fast approaching. The date of Freshers’ Fairs differs from one institution to another, but they are usually held in late September. If you have a Lib Dem student society/group at your local HE/FE site, find out what they have planned, offer support and, if nothing is planned, try to encourage some activity. Contact details for Liberal Youth Societies are available here. If you do not have a Lib Dem student society/group, try to make contact with the Student Union and see if you can set something up. It will be a great shame if we miss this brilliant opportunity to recruit and motivate young people.

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