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.

Likewise, I was able to use my positive relationship with the East of England to secure a young candidates fund which has been used to help elect Young Liberal Democrats to public office from Cambridge to Colchester.

Jack and I will use these relationships and build on them at a Federal level to gain more influence for the Young Liberals; we will use this influence to make young people’s voices heard and reflected in campaigns, manifesto and other decisions within the wider party.

Secondly, we need to make use of institutional knowledge of past officers and our Honorary VPs and President. We are lucky to have a plethora of talented people associated with YL, but we under-utilise their knowledge.

If we start to use their knowledge of how YL and the Party works, we can improve the quality of our decision making. The primary consequence of that is a YL exec that is more effective at campaigning, delivering and influencing than ever before.

Thirdly, the YL exec works best when those who take on portfolios understand their portfolios and feel empowered to make effective decisions. This can be enhanced by making sure that we foster an atmosphere of trust and a culture where people can ask for and receive training and mentoring as wanted.

Jack and I have experience promoting inclusive cultures and intend to bring that culture into YL. If we mix this with the use of Honorary VPs as mentors and focus on training and support, we can increase the effectiveness of YL as a body within the Liberal Democrats and in a more public-facing role.

Using our combined experiences and successes in previous roles, Jack and I believe we can lead YL to a new era of success.

* Callum Robertson is a teacher and former Chair of the Young Liberals

Read more by or more about .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Jack ? Who is Jack ? Please clarify.

  • Richard Underhill 14th Oct '20 - 11:31am

    Callum Robertson | Wed 14th October 2020 – 9:15 am
    Do you have links with Young Alliance?
    Do you support the Alderdice Review?
    How does the YL fare on diversity criteria?
    Do you agree with the decision made yesterday by the elected members?
    Do you like a pint down the pub to share the crack?

  • @ Martin As the National Vice-Chairman of N.L.Y.L. way back in 1966, I heartily concur, Martin. I’m just an old idealistic person these days.

    But, the whole party needs to look at itself and its ‘lack of political clout’ before it dreams itself off into an unlamented oblivion.

    PS. John Marriott. Only a cup of tea ?

    I’m a dab hand at boiled/poached/scrambled/fried eggs, beans on toast, not to mention the odd bit of haggis and black pudding. Time to expand your repertoire if you wish to stay in favour, young man.

  • Jack Worrall 14th Oct '20 - 12:45pm

    @ David Raw I am Jack!!! Current Chair of the English Young Liberals and former co-Vice Chair of YL

  • Jack Worrall 14th Oct '20 - 12:49pm

    @ Martin – The Young Liberals do need an executive who are out there campaigning strongly and fervently on issues that matter to young people.

    I know many young people who have joined our party on the basis of our strong campaigning on issues like Trans rights. We need to do more to challenge the status quo and I believe we are better able to get ideas out that might not be popular yet but lays the groundwork for issues that will be the normal in 10 years time.

  • Jack Worrall 14th Oct '20 - 12:58pm

    @ Richard – Yes we do! We had planned last year a joint event with YA in Northern Ireland but for whatever reason (I think funding) it fell through.
    – We support the Alderdice review fully and it is apart of our plan to implement it (and a full Young Liberals Diversity review) We will also be strong supporters of implementing the Alderdice review within the wider party.
    – Both Callum and I signed onto quite stringent diversity criteria for selection of candidates. The plan Jo Hayes led would have meant that a shortlist would have had to contain one person from a protected characteristic out of between 3-5 if they applied for the seat. Within YL we have introduced a diversity criteria recently which is there for the executive and others to consult with to make sure we get the issues right when it comes to each community.
    – Do you mean to select Luisa Porritt? Luisa is an excellent candidate and we will be out in force for her.
    – I do like a nice pub visit. I’ll have a Thatchers!

  • John Marriott 14th Oct '20 - 2:15pm

    Question: When does a Young Liberal become an Old Liberal?
    Answer: If you take Lord Peter Hain as your example, a Young Liberal becomes an Old Socialist (always assuming that a Labour Peer would class himself as a ‘socialist’).

    @David Raw
    Yes, just a cup of tea. I blame Jayne Mansfield for giving you ideas! By the way, you appear to be on the wrong thread!

  • Yes, challenge the status quo,stir it up! You get in the papers etc.Being new with an idea gets laughed at but,as you say,over that 10 years it takes on momentum. David Steele with his abortion campaign for example. What sort of country do the YLs want to live in in 15 years time? Bring forth your dreams and campaign for them. There are a lot of youngsters out there ask them, win them.
    PS Mines a pint of Tetley,s!

  • @ John Marriott Just testing !!

  • @ Chair Worrall : “I am Jack !!!” Well, well……., not from Wearside I very much hope.

    You and your chum Callum ought to give us a bit of a CV to raise your profile.

  • Not sure what Peter Hain’s defection has to do with anything now; that was over 50 years ago. (I still remember being puzzled by the last Radical Bulletin he edited; all became clear soon enough when his defection to Labour became public.)
    But I also remember quite a number of Young Liberals from back then who are still active in the Party, still campaigning for Liberalism, and still putting it to the Establishment, (yes that includes at least one now in the Lords).
    For many of us, it was and is a lifetime commitment. Older now, a bit more cynical, maybe even a bit wiser, but still Young Liberal at heart. And I hope a good example for today’s Young Liberals. Just so long as we don’t try to tell them what to do!

  • David Garlick 15th Oct '20 - 11:04am

    The three things you identfiy as in need of addressing/changes would apply to most of our Party from the top down. Hopefully the start made at the top will take account of the need to support our younger members and widen our appeal to others of a similar age.

  • @Jack W “We (YL’s) need to do more to challenge the status quo and I believe we are better able to get ideas out that might not be popular yet but lays the groundwork for issues that will be the normal in 10 years time.”

    As a another veterans of 60’s YL’s I really welcome this statement. We are not (yet) attracting enough young people to identify with our values and support our polices.

  • Peter Hirst 15th Oct '20 - 6:56pm

    Why don’t we see more policy motions from the Young Liberals? I remember getting at least one at most conferences. It helps the rest of us to associate with the vision, ideals and priorities of this sector of the Party. A well constructed, delivered and promoted motion gets your message across beyond those who attend.

  • David Evans 16th Oct '20 - 7:28pm

    @David Raw @John Marriott I am quite a dab hand at Boiled Egg with non-militaristic soldiers and Chicken Ding, but my recipe for Beans on toast has had so many things spilt on it, I can’t read it except for the last line – “Beans on Toast.”

    If you have a spare copy, just drop me a line.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • Martin Eggleston
    "not so lovely people can get quite far into the Party’s core before anyone necessarily notices." Absolutely! Hear hear...
  • Yeovil Yokel
    This elegant piece warrants a thumbs-up of its own, Mark - and no, I'm not proffering a bribe to a moderator....
  • Mel Borthwaite
    Maybe the time has come for there to be two separate organisations responsible for policing - one being a ‘Police Force’ and the other being a ‘Police Ser...
  • Martin Gray
    "The policy and the Liberal Democrat outlook is for the improvement of the UK’s economic, social and geopolitical well being and absolutely ‘tackle the issu...
  • Martin
    Martin Gray: The Party's constitution and policy adopted at the Spring conference a year ago do mark the Liberal Democrats as 'a rejoin party'. In fact there ...