Tag Archives: young liberals

Liberal Democrats should support trade unions and strike action

I was delighted that a policy motion written by myself, and the Young Liberals Social Mobility representative, Emily Baker, passed with an overwhelming majority at Young Liberals Summer Conference in Birmingham.

At our winter conference in Edinburgh in February, we passed a motion showing  solidarity with the University & Colleges Union.  Emily and I thought that in light of the Federal Party’s response to the RMT strikes, a similar motion ought to be brought to our Summer Conference in an expression of our support for the union.

To be completely candid, the Lib Dem response to these strikes made me hugely sceptical about my place in the Party. The protection of Trade Union and employment rights, including the right to strike, are absolute fundamental liberal values that I’m completely unwilling to compromise. I thought better of quitting. Instead, bringing this motion to our conference alongside Emily, was our way to ‘sticking it to the establishment’ in fairly characteristic YL style. We are both thrilled about the support of YL members in both their speeches and in the vote.

The motion calls for our express support for the industrial action taking by the RMT; our support for industrial action across other sectors where businesses fail to negotiate, and members are balloted in support of industrial action; and to reaffirm our support for the Association of Liberal Democrat Trade Unionists.

 It’s become clearer that industrial action across sectors is increasingly likely: Royal Mail staff are heading for the picket, teachers are balloting for industrial action, Arriva bus drivers in the North West have been out on the picket line for 25 continuous days at the time of writing. Amendments to this motion submitted by James Green and Joe Norris, as well as English Young Liberals Chair, Oliver Jones-Lyons, have helpfully fleshed the motion out to include affirming our support for a variety of different Trade Unions and moved that Liberal Democrats should not oppose a General Strike if there are further restrictions on the right to strike.

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Young Liberals affirm support for trade unions

A motion passed at the Young Liberals Summer Conference yesterday criticises Lib Dem MPs for their comments over the RMT strike action. YL believe that the action was justified.

Their motion said:

(Conference notes)…

The recent industrial action taken by the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) was aimed at, amongst other things:

Tackling fire and rehire;
Protecting against compulsory redundancies;
Seeking to protect the safe running of the railway by maintaining staffing
levels;

The industrial action was held with the support by 89% of members balloted.
There has been a recent controversial response to the RMT strikes by the Federal Party, including:

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Young Liberals head to Birmingham for their Summer Conference

About a million years ago I travelled from Aberdeen to Birmingham to attend my first ever SDP Students Conference. It was held in the Birmingham University Guild of Students and we all slept on the floor in our sleeping bags.

It was a great learning experience. I remember it was the first time I had done public speaking training and it scared the life out of me. It really helped, though.

I really enjoyed the experience and it obviously dug me deeper in to the party. Not even the SDPS “Have you got the guts to vote SDP” campaign the following year could put me off.

I met some lifelong friends in those early days.

So it warmed my heart a bit to see Young Liberals heading to Birmingham for their Summer conference. And they even have beds to sleep in in the 2020s.

Got to love Callum’s suitcase:

And it’s great to see that there are loads of new people heading to Conference for the first time:

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Forever young: Erlend Watson accorded life membership of Young Liberals

Long-standing Liberal Democrat member, activist, and election talisman Erlend Watson has been accorded Honorary Life Membership of the Young Liberals.

The announcement comes after Erlend has undergone a serious period of hospitalisation at the Royal Papworth Cambridge and after he has himself issued a Farewell statement on his own Facebook page (copied below with his permission).

Young Liberals Chair Eleanor Kelly said:

Erlend has been a great friend of Young Liberals since before most of our members were born.

With a long and varied career within the party, he has been a fixture of general and by-election campaigns for decades. He has often used his experience to act as a sounding board for our Chairs and Executives and has been a source of advice, wisdom and good humour for many young activists. Most notably, he served as Honorary President of the then Liberal Youth between 2011-12.

“As an executive, we think it only fitting that we award Erlend Honorary Life Membership of the Young Liberals, which we will be moving at our upcoming Winter Conference, and would like to reiterate our thanks to him for being a great ally to our organisation.

Alistair Carmichael MP said:

I have known Erlend Watson since he was chronologically a Young Liberal in Orkney in the late 1980s in Orkney. His commitment to the cause of liberalism and to the Liberal Democrats since then has been unwavering. Look up the word “stalwart” in the dictionary and you will find a picture of Erlend Watson.

For Erlend to be given honorary life membership of The Young Liberals is a fitting way for his commitment to be recognised. He is someone who will always be a young liberal, whatever his age! All of us who know and love Erlend thank them for taking this decision.

Annette Brooke, former MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole (2001-2015) said”

This is brilliant news and much deserved. It is right to recognise his work with Liberal Democrats nationwide and across generations. Erlend played the most important part in the successful campaign to win the Mid Dorset and North Poole seat in the 2001 General Election. His hard work late into the night, his good humour and his tolerance for my butterfly moments and my frequent visits to the hairdressers knew no bounds!

Erlend is the person to have with you at an election count. We shared and survived two nail biting occasions – the critical, but winning, Canford Heath double-council by-election in 2000 and the 2001 General Election where our winning majority was 384 votes.Erlend is like a walking computer in these situations.

My life obviously changed in 2001 and I know Erlend’s did too. When Erlend moved on from Mid Dorset and North Poole, he and the whole team had shared experiences of fun, hard work, enduring friendships, snap decision making, development of organisational skills, success, celebrations, and so much more. I like to think that Erlend’s experiences in Dorset set him on the path to making even greater contributions to future Lib Dem campaigns. Thank you Erlend.

May there be many more campaigns ahead to which you can contribute albeit in a more advisory capacity.

Erlend’s personal statement:

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Young Liberals produce new campaign guide

As Helen Morgan’s campaign in North Shropshire gathers momentum – see last night’s post showing that we are doing even better there than in Chesham and Amersham at the same stage) – party members are flocking to the seat.

The Young Liberals are always a big part of any by-election and have already held several action days there with more to come until polling day on 16th.

You have no idea how much I want those shoes, by the way.

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The Young Liberals need you (terms and conditions apply)!

This year’s Young Liberals elections are up and running, with nominations open until 4 October and the winners being decided by 25 October.

Naturally, here at Liberal Democrat Voice, we not only don’t endorse candidates, but maintain strict neutrality, working with Returning Officers to ensure that, as far as the pages of this organ are concerned, we don’t tilt the electoral playing field towards, or away from, individual candidates.

However, we do want to encourage all eligible members to take part in these upcoming elections, be it as a candidate or a voter. Many of us have worked with, or held positions in, the Young Liberals over the years and, as an opportunity to contribute to the success of the wider party, but also to take an active role and learn new skills, they offer a space for anyone to get engaged.

There are seventy positions up for grabs, at Federal, State and Regional levels, each with a different skillset required, from policy roles to representation, from organisation to leadership, from design to communication, and all will be key to building up the campaigning capacity and strength of the organisation as a potential General Election nears.

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You just can’t tell some people…

Well, that’s been a lively enough day. And here are some thoughts at the end of it…

Firstly, we have a comments policy. I do wish that some people would read it before trying to pick a fight with me. Admittedly, it does make moderation so much easier if I just reject those comments challenging our moderation decisions, but it’s such a waste of everyone’s time. Let me repeat, do not use the comments sections to challenge moderation decisions – it detracts from the discussion at hand and tends to make the complainant look rather churlish.

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Future councillors scheme launched by Young Liberals

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LibLink: Young Liberal calls on Cheltenham’s MP to take action to end period poverty

Over on the Cheltenham Liberal Democrats website, Young Liberal Jessica Jeffries writes to her local MP, calling on him to take action to end period poverty:

The negative impact of period poverty can affect women in many different ways. Physically, there is a high risk of infection due to the repeated use of old sanitary products, and the use of dirty rags/pieces of cloth which many have to use as an alternative. Psychologically, as a result of the stigma, many women feel embarrassment/shame when discussing menstruation and those who struggle financially will face much stress as they choose between feeding themselves and their family or buying period products.

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Young Liberals demand cancellation of deportation flight – how you can help

Who on earth would deport people in the middle of a global pandemic?

From the Independent:

The Home Office has scheduled a deportation flight to Jamaica on the day England’s month-long coronavirus lockdown lifts, sparking outrage and accusations of institutionalised racism.

Speaking with The Independent, Zita Holbourne, the national co-chair of Black Activists Rising Against Cuts UK and the organiser of a long-running petition calling on the Home Office to end “mass deportations” to Jamaica, said it was a dangerous step to deport people during a pandemic.

She said she was disturbed to learn the government had planned the deportation flight for 2 December, the day England’s nationwide lockdown aimed at preventing the spread of Covid-19 lifts.

We shouldn’t be surprised at our Home Office’s callous disregard for people’s health.

But nor should we stand by.

Young Liberals are writing to the Home Secretary to ask her to stop this deportation.

Their letter says:

Dear Home Secretary,

The Young Liberals write to you, with support of the wider Liberal Democrat membership and those with other political affiliations, with our concerns regarding the scheduled deportation of up to fifty people to Jamaica on Wednesday 2nd December 2020. We wish to add our voices to those of esteemed organisations such as BARAC UK & BAME Lawyers for Justice, who are urging the Home Secretary to reconsider the proposed action in line with legal and moral considerations.

We note with significant alarm the Home Secretary’s lack of confirmation that a review of Home Office policies will take place to ensure that the Home Office’s current practices comply with equalities legislation.

The ‘deport now and appeal later’ principle underpinning the Home Office’s ongoing Hostile Environment Policy preys on minority ethnic individuals without sufficient money, connections, or support in the UK, acting in a highly discriminatory way.

We wish to reiterate ongoing concerns about the systematic prejudices of the Home Office, with the Home Office failing to implement the total findings and recommendations of the ‘Windrush Lessons Learned Review’, the Joint Committee on Human Rights’ Report on ‘Black People, Racism and Human Rights’, or the 2018 Shaw Report which recommended that the Government should not deport those born or brought up in the UK.

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The Young Liberals needs to change

When deciding to run to be co-Chairs of the Young Liberals, Jack and I recognised that we needed to address what we call the three big challenges facing YL: the need to professionalise our operations, the need to organise ourselves more effectively and the need to inform members about what the executive are doing.

This article focuses on the need to professionalise our operations and more importantly, how we intend to do this.

Firstly, we need to work better with the wider Liberal Democrats; their success is our success and vice versa. There is much to be gained by our organisations working well together. This success means we must interact with the party at all levels.

Both Jack and I have seen the fruits of positive working relationships in our roles as chair of English Young Liberals and East of England Young Liberals, respectively. In his role as chair of EYL, Jack built relationships with the English Liberal Democrats and consequently, he was able to secure extra funding to the tune of £4000 for YL. This money is being used to increase branch developments by; assisting with the production of materials, more money into the branch development fund and increasing support for accredited branches.

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Do you owe the Young Liberals any money?

There was a bit of late night amusement over the weekend as the Young Liberals publicised this page on their website inviting all of us to pay a penance if we had referred to them by their organisation’s previous name:

(Image shows two tweets, one by me, saying “We have all done this at some point so we should all give something. Everyone deserves to be referred to by their name. My problem is that this has now reminded me of its former incarnation which I thought I had expunged from my brain.” Laura Gordon replies saying “Setting up the page like that is basically entrapment, but, you know what, well played, English Young Liberals.”`)

The reason that this became an issue is that some senior figures in the party who should know better submitted a motion to Conference with the former name in it. I suspect that the Federal Conference Committee will kindly resolve this by way of a drafting amendment so nobody will ever know unless they read this article.

I did give them a small donation, and if we all did that, it would make a big difference to their campaigns on housing and mental health. 

This got me thinking about all the previous generations of the organisation. I joined the Young Social Democrats back in 1983. I think I was the most northern member at the time. It was a bit of a novelty for my central belt based colleagues to have someone up in Caithness. That organisation distinguished itself with the slogan “Have you got the guts to vote SDP?” The equivalent organisation in the Liberal Party was the Young Liberals.

I was instinctively a Liberal rather than a Social Democrat. Primarily it was issues around freedom, civil liberties and human rights that motivated me. However, I chose to join the SDP because in Caithness their average age was around 50 while the average age of the Liberals was a lot older than that.

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Young, liberal and free?

The Young Liberals are delighted to finally announce the dates and preliminary agenda for our Online Conference, which will take place between Sunday 19th and Sunday 26th July.

We’ve had over 150 people pre-register and near 40 submissions, making this by far the largest conference we will ever have held! The conference will be totally free for Young Liberals members, including those between 26-30 who have opted in (which you can do here). This is a really exciting opportunity for policy debates, socialising with other Young Liberals and some great speakers.

You can sign up to Conference here!

There are plenty …

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A Message from the Young Liberals’ executive: Get involved!

The Young Liberals is not a perfect organisation – there, we said it – from its lack of institutional memory to the difficulties it’s faced in gaining better representation amongst young professionals, there are many things that could be improved about the organisation.

This being said, it’s been encouraging to see many use the platform of Lib Dem Voice to suggest ways the organisation could change and improve. This clearly shows that many people really care about YL and to these people, and to anyone else reading who meets our membership criteria, we have one message. Please, get involved!

Posted in News and Party policy and internal matters | 5 Comments

Young Liberals

I wanted to write this article because I wanted to follow on and add a different view point into the mix about the Young Liberals. I have been encouraged to see many articles by folk who want the very best for the Young Liberals and the party. I feel though that there are a few things that I want to add.

I am going to let you all into a little secret – the Young Liberals are far from perfect. But I will say that everyone who holds a position in YL is trying their best even though we don’t get it right all of the time. Let’s review the last year of Young Liberals activity:

  • Multiple Young Liberals used YL’s Young & Winning fund to help win their seats during the 2019 locals.
  • Viral videos during the European elections with over 20K views on one video alone.
  • Most well attended Young Liberals Conference with new attendees counting for 1/2 of the total attendance.
  • New style guide so good the London Mayoral campaign adopted it.
  • Hosted LYMEC (European Liberal Youth) Conference.
  • Had to deal with the abysmal General election campaign.
  • Elected young members onto Federal Policy Committee, Federal Conference Committee, English Council Executive as well as a host of other YL sympathetic candidates.
  • Increased our grant from the English Party by £4,000.
  • All our delegates present at the English Council.
  • Rolled out a new accreditation scheme.
  • Recently we have held weekly webinars giving our members direct access to our MPs.
  • We were also gearing up to distribute Young and Winning grants to a diverse range of young candidates including women, BAME and LGBT candidates.
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Responses to an anonymous Young Liberal – how to unlock the transformative power of the branches

We were surprised by the response of Young Liberals (YL) to a recent article by “Anonymous Young Liberal”. While much of the reaction was measured and accepting, we felt responses to the article along the lines of ‘it’s too difficult’ were inappropriate. We were both broadly sympathetic with the article and now is the time to think about what YL can do to better stimulate branches.

Damayanti:
I have been South Central YL Chair for over a year now. I started the role planning improvements that would make the job easier for both me and my successors. Chief amongst these was the creation of a YL mailing list for my 40 local parties, writing a guide to boost youth membership for them and working with them to produce bespoke membership strategies.

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Young Liberals online conference – drafting deadline approaching!

Over the past month or so, the Young Liberals Executive and Conference Committee has been working hard putting together plans for an online conference, in the place of our regular in-person Activate/Conference. In the last 2 weeks we have started to announce some details, including opening up submissions and drafting advice for motions and constitutional amendments. The drafting deadline is quickly approaching, but there is still ample opportunity to draft a motion, and plenty of time to submit one before the final deadline!

This is a fantastic opportunity for people who have not previously been directly involved in the Young Liberals to see how we work, get involved in policy discussions, scrutinise our Executive and get to know other Young Liberals from across the country.

The drafting deadline for policy motions, business motions and constitutional amendments is at 1pm this Sunday (the 31st), if you are planning on submitting something and want help/advice, please try and get in contact with me by then, as I won’t be able to guarantee help after this point (but will likely still be able to on a case by case basis).

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To rebuild our party, we must be unflinchingly bold

There are some moments when I’m unspeakably proud to be a member of the Liberal Democrats.

Last year’s local elections. Marching side-by-side with tens of thousands at the People’s Vote rallies. Every time I crack open Roy Jenkins’ excellent Gladstone biography.

But there’s one rather more recent moment that sticks out as the proudest I’ve ever felt to be a member of this party, and that was reading the general election review. I can’t think of any other party that would have had such a frank conversation with itself about what went wrong.

It makes a tough read, but as important as the review was, it’s even more so to remember that that was the easy bit. It’s easy to feel good about ourselves for having the review, and it’s easy to say “well done” to those who were involved in its construction, before sweeping them under the rug. It’s going to be much, much harder to live up to what it asks of us.

It’s clear that we need to reach out beyond our own circles if we are ever to become a credible force for change again. That means recruiting and retaining voters of all colours, classes, faiths and ages by proving that liberalism is an innovative and bold ideology unafraid to take on the challenges that face these voters. That means dreaming big, but starting small; we need to speak to people’s everyday needs, not just their highest aspirations. Most of all, we need to engage young voters across the country so that we can renew liberalism for the challenges of the new decade.

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What the Thornhill report should mean for Young Liberals

Many have rightly heralded the party’s open and honest attempt to understand our defeat as a gamechanger for the Lib Dems. This is a chance to address not just the damp, but the dry-rot and subsidence too. In the spirit of Dorothy Thornhill, I think it’s time we addressed all of the party’s structural problems. The report repeatedly and rightly mentioned the need for greater BAME involvement in the party, which is holding back our ability to win seats and appeal to a broader base of liberally-minded people. We are also being held back, however, by an absence of young people in the party.

In statistical terms, the Lib Dems are quite a young party; as of 2018, 27% of our members were between the ages of 18-39. If you look at the 18-24 age-range, which is when most young people who go to university will do so, only 6% of our party come from this group, relative to almost twice that in the population at large. Considering how many of our target seats have universities in them, there is huge opportunity for growth here. We do have a relatively young membership compared to Labour and the Conservatives. But this is like being the tallest penguin: our party is still overwhelmingly reliant on older, experienced, members who are dwindling in number. Unless young members stay within the party, we risk brain-drain to the two larger parties amongst ambitious young liberals. Unless we can recruit and maintain a cadre of young members who become integrated into party structures, we risk losing institutional memory whilst also campaigning with methods stuck in the past. The view that we can win in the 2020s with the same methods that won the by-elections of the ‘90s is beyond delusional. Young liberals are vital to future campaigns, and not just doing the grunt work.

Young Liberals should offer a natural recruitment ground in the party for such talent, and it should be a place where young members can gather experience of how to run serious campaigns effectively. But too often it falls short; irrelevant to the lives of most young members, YL is the preserve of a small clique of insiders. YL needs major reform; too few branches are learning best practice from each other about how to grow, too many positions go uncontested, or contested by the same old faces. Turnout in YL elections is shockingly low, when turnout is published at all. The Chair of Welsh Young Liberals was elected with 13 votes. 7 positions on the federal executive went uncontested last election season, other positions are vacant. The atmosphere inside YL, including the shutting down of the infamous Chatbox, certainly coheres with what many were saying in the Thornhill report: we’re quick to criticise each other and the party, and slow to encourage one another. YL at the moment is not fit for purpose; how will it make a credible case that it should keep its seat on Federal Board, whilst it continues to spend so much money on its conferences, and so little on developing branches and winning campaigns?

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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.

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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.

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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 | 9 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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