Why did we join the Liberal Democrats? Because our party is a party of the future. Because our party truly is a promise of more.
By Sarah Harding, Candidate for Liberal Youth General Executive Member, Candidate for Policy Committee
Liberal Youth exists to give young people a voice within the party. It gives them training, inspiration and a forum to express their opinions. We need Liberal Youth- we wouldn’t have the national recognition we do without them. Liberal Youth has produced some of the voices that now lead or have led our party and they would not be in the positions they are now without Liberal Youth. It’s no surprise and it’s not hidden that Liberal Youth has policies that are predominantly focused on the issues affecting young people- the Green Liberal Democrats and DELGA both do the same- but It has been said that Liberal Youth “have little to say on policy outside of the tuition fee debate” and to that end, I couldn’t disagree more.
Take the recent spring conference-the most successful in recent times- motions were debated on, amongst others, repealing the abolition of cheques, legalising voluntary euthanasia and a British Space authority. ContactPoint is another Liberal Youth success. At a time when the party nationally didn’t have a policy on this dangerous database, Liberal Youth passed an emergency motion through their spring conference calling for its abolition. Less than four months later, not only did scrapping ContactPoint appear in the party’s General Election Manifesto but also in the coalition agreements.
Liberal Youth is a SAO of the party nationally, and we take that responsibility seriously. We campaign on the issues that matter to us, and if I may say so, do it rather successfully. Yes, we maintain our position on scrapping tuition fees but on so much more as well. We are unafraid of debate and stand up for liberal principles in a way only young people can. We may have made mistakes in the past, our leadership may not have been perfect but we have learnt from every incident, and are moving forward together under the new executive we will elect in the weeks to come.
We remain unparalleled by political youth organisations for our success and unrivalled in our ability to keep working, and fighting in our constituencies and for our campaigns.
Liberal Youth are Liberal Democrats first, and Liberal Youth second. The party will needs us now, and will need us in the future, and through Liberal Youth we improve our ability to work well for the party and take it forward as we enter the uncharted waters of coalition.
Where would Elwyn Watkins be now if a Liberal Youth member hadn’t reported a Labour leaflet to the Straightchoice? Could John Leach have successfully defended his seat if it wasn’t for the tireless work of Liberal Youth Manchester and have you ever seen such a energetic campaign as in Liverpool Wavertree? Who was there? Liberal Youth.
Don’t tell me Liberal Youth has “disappointed” you. Liberal Youth ensures the party campaigns from the grassroots up on issues that put our very liberalism at stake. ContactPoint and ID card are illiberal, extortionate tuition fees and student debt are illiberal and giving backhanders to the nuclear industry is illiberal. We stand in opposition to the loss of liberalism. Liberal Democrats need Liberal Youth because we are the promise that we will remain the party of civil liberties, of fairness and of a greener tomorrow. Liberal Youth has been, and will continue to be a strong and supportive organisation and I have no doubt that we can improve and that we will. Liberal Youth are the future. Liberal Youth are here to stay.
Sarah Harding is 18 and a student. She has been involved with General and Local election campaigns in Southport and Liverpool Wavertree constituencies and is a candidate for Liberal Youth General Executive Member and for Liberal Youth Policy Committee.