6 thoughts on “Where next?

  1. Sean Davey says:

    Agree totally with Harry’s comments – if anything I would add a sense of urgency: we are sleepwalking towards irrelevance by focussing all our energy inwards and talking among ourselves. Instead we need to have a much more positive, vocal and dynamic relationship both with the party (from influencing policy, to helping out in by-elections) and within the wider community of young people. If we ask ourselves are we really doing enough to engage more new people, and a more diverse crowd then I think we’ll be found wanting, and that’s just not good enough!

  2. Harry, there’s a massive world of difference between what is meant and what is actually said. Do I agree with your sentiment? Yes. Do I agree with Liberal Youth calling itself a party within a party? No.

    The phrase a “party within a party” was invented to describe the Militant tendency in the Labour party. They were accused of “electing their own officers”, “making their own policy” and “campaigning independently”. Well all of those are activities which Liberal Youth has a long proud tradition of doing – as you should know given that you are, in fact, an elected officer of what you call “a party within a party”.

    The youth wing of the Liberal Democrats and the Liberals before them has been at its strongest when it’s been challenging the status quo and the establishment within the party, standing up for principle and forcing a debate on policy areas that the leadership wanted to avoid talking about – areas such as gay rights and climate change and apartheid.

    Paddy Ashdown famously told our predecessors that their job was to cause problems for the leadership. And they did that famously by bringing a motion to conference on legalising cannabis – a motion that caused Ashdown to storm off when it was passed. That is the job of Liberal Youth. To make and campaign for policy because it is right, even when and if it is opposed by the party’s leadership.

    In fact, the most successful youth wings in Europe are those which campaign almost completely independently and which are hot houses of radical politics – with some of them being more successful than their parent parties.

    But we can’t do that if we’ve effectively committed ourself to being afraid of our own shadow which is what your amendment did. In our policy book we now officially accuse ourselves of having a “party within a party” mentality and commit ourselves to moving away from it. That is what the text of the motion passed actually says – despite what you claim your intentions were.

    And at a time when there are plenty within the party who deem us an irrelevance or who dismiss us, who refuse to take us seriously, all you’ve done is give them another piece of ammunition to throw at us.

    How on Earth can we challenge the status quo within the party and the country if every time we do we’ve given open season for others to accuse us of “behaving like a party within a party”?

    Your amendment didn’t do anything for the cause of Liberal Youth campaigning or policy Harry, all it did was shoot us in the foot.

    And, given that you clearly believed in the wording “a party within a party” enough to put it into an amendment where that particular wording obviously wasn’t needed, then I suggest you actually have the courage to act on that conviction by resigning from your position on the LY executive – after all, having our own officers is most definitely proof that we still hold a “party within a party mentality”.

  3. Well said Harry, I don’t know you or Liberal Youth that well but everything you suggest here sounds eminently sensible.

  4. [...] This is a piece written by Callum Morton, previous Campaigns Officer for Liberal Youth, in response to an article by Vice Chair Harry Matthews, entitled ‘Where Next’  [...]

  5. Ashley Wilkes says:

    Do we need to campaign more? Yes. Are we a party in a party? Absolutely not. We’re a youth wing we should be campaigning but we should also be putting forward ideas to conference and trying to put our view across. Both are very important!

  6. [...] This is a piece featured in The Libertine written by Callum Morton, previous Campaigns Officer for Liberal Youth, in response to an article by Vice Chair Harry Matthews, entitled ‘Where Next’  [...]

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