A response to an open letter from LYS, IR Cymru, NI LY & LYE
HOW CAN LIBERAL YOUTH BE TRUE TO ITS MEMBERS & FEDERAL STRUCTURE?
An Open Letter from the Presidents/Chairs of Liberal Youth Scotland, Ieuenctid Rhyddfrydol Cymru, Northern Ireland Liberal Youth and England Liberal Youth.
It is important Liberal Youth recognises the difference devolution has made in politics and as a result within our organisation. In the recent budget both Liberal Youth Scotland and IR Cymru were awarded £250 towards their state spending. This is fantastic progress towards supporting our devolved states but more needs to be done to engage our members.
The proposals below outline the changes where progress must be made.
Proposal 1: Recognition for Northern Ireland Liberal Youth
LY must make it a priority to support young liberals in Northern Ireland by (accounting for local wishes) either formally recognising NI Liberal Youth or working with the Alliance party.
Callum – I agree, and I’d like to see LY NI’s involvement in anything we do federally – be that LY campaigns, conferences, or action days
Proposal 2: State Representation on Standing Committees
All Liberal Youth committees, like the executive and our mother party, must have a voting representative from devolved states that is elected by these respective states.
Callum – Totally agree, the Lib Dem Party itself does similar, and we should work a lot harder than we currently do to involve our state organisations. Concerns are that this wouldn’t be suitable on the International Committee of Liberal Youth, but I disagree.
Proposal 3: Access to Executive Committee
A real access issue exists for far reaching members attending mandated meetings held in London. The expenses process must be maintained and improved upon, but there also must be room to introduce both Skype meetings and alternative locations.
Callum – Throughout my time in Students’ Unions, I’ve used Skype and Conference Calling to ensure accessibility, so that certainly isn’t an issue. I’m probably the only candidate in this election proposing a focus on fundraising in order to support our activists getting to meetings, action days, etc.
Proposal 4: Access to Liberal Youth Conference
Again, there are real access issues for far reaching members to attend LY Conference. There must be opportunities for online engagement with Conference and Conference must, if possible, be hosted in venues across the UK.
Callum – the ideal situation for LY Conference would be to stream it live and allow for members watching at home to engage fully in the debate via voting. This could actually be a way of increasing the quoracy and democratic mandate of Conference, and is something some Students’ Unions use to good effect.
Proposal 5: Policy making for the whole of the UK
Policy is decided by the select few at Conference. Policy must be accessible through online discussion and voting, via a Policy & Campaigns Network, with thought given to differing aspects in devolved states.
Callum – I agree, and I think if we can work towards what I have stated in response to proposal 4 then this kind of open online debate can become a common part of Liberal Youth’s membership engagement.
Proposal 6: Joint Elections
If e-voting has the capacity to be introduced then Liberal Youth, alongside the devolved organisations, should examine the prospect of joint election periods for mutual benefit.
Callum – Totally agree, it makes little sense to focus all our elections at varying times anyway, as putting them together creates more of a buzz about the elections. The more elections there are a year, the less people engage in them, so anything we can do to organise our elections better should be considered a priority.
Proposal 7: Collaborated Campaigning & Training
Devolved politics results in campaigns at a federal level that are ineffective at a devolved level. Efforts should be made towards campaigns and training that can be jointly worked on which would ultimately win more support and would cut costs, i.e. Bears for Belarus.
Callum – Agree, this would obviously be aided by having state reps on Liberal Youth committees, in order to ensure that our campaigns can be used across the UK. We should make as many training packs and tutorials online as possible in order to maximise our potential here.
Proposal 8: Increased vital Funding
The devolved execs have workloads and aims similar to the federal executive yet minuscule budgets. Adequate funding must be in place to fully enhance activity and support members.
Callum – Almost everything comes back to funding, and that’s why I’ve pledged a totally new way of fundraising – our state organisations will be given priority for a large chunk of money raised.
Proposal 9: Increased Support
Again, the devolved execs have significant workloads. Support and time from the federal funded staff member must be given over to the devolved executives where required.
Callum – 100% agree here, and I know this will be helped if Liberal Youth can actually get to a stage where only we line manage our staff support, rather than doing so jointly with Lib Dem HQ. That way we can organise the staff member’s time more efficiently.
We the undersigned call on you, if elected, to support the above proposals and make a commitment towards ensuring real change is introduced during your term of office that will be cemented throughout the structure of Liberal Youth.
Callum – I have to say it is great to see a letter of this kind. Regardless of who is elected as Chair of Liberal Youth and on to the executive, all of the suggestions above should be implemented. From experience of leading Students’ Unions and being involved in NUS, both of which have independent bodies, I know that all the above makes sense and are recommendations that can be implemented without an awful amount of effort. I think the main two things I offer as a candidate in this election are experience and the vision to make a change to the way Liberal Youth operates. Thus, should I be given the opportunity to represent Liberal Youth, I will look to implement all of the suggestions in the manner stated.
President of Liberal Youth Scotland
Chair of IR Cymru
Chair of Northern Ireland Liberal Youth
Chair of England Liberal Youth