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.

Dear Candidate,

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

David Green
President of Liberal Youth Scotland

Sam Bennett
Chair of IR Cymru

Stephen McFarland
Chair of Northern Ireland Liberal Youth

Conor McKenzie
Chair of England Liberal Youth

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4 thoughts on “How can Liberal Youth be true to its members & Federal structure?

  1. mortsterpolitics says:

    Hi Presidents/Chairs of Liberal Youth Scotland, Ieuenctid Rhyddfrydol Cymru, Northern Ireland Liberal Youth and England Liberal Youth,

    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.

    Regards, Callum (Standing for Chair)

  2. Harry Matthews says:

    Specifically on Proposal 2, and possibly others, any member is entitled to turn up to any meeting within Federal Liberal Youth – including Executive meetings. In fact, I’d encourage it.

    You can also request the minutes from previous meetings too.

  3. Thank you all very much for this: plenty of food for thought…
    I hope it sounds sincere when I say that I’m in awe of what is achieved by Liberal Youth in the devolved regions; because I really am. There are many lessons to be learn from you all.
    In response to your questions:
    Proposal 1: Recognition for Northern Ireland Liberal Youth
    There are provisions in the constitution federally which would enable the recognition of Northern Ireland as a region and there is no reason this should not happen. If elected I will assist Northern Ireland, alongside Membership and International officers as required; developing a constitution, running elections, and with other events. I will ensure that we do so compliantly and with the involvement of members. With regards to organising as a federal entity, I am happy to look into the constitutional process and compliance involved with Stephen.
    Proposal 2: State Representation on Standing Committees
    This change would require a constitutional amendment, and will therefore be reliant upon conference. However, I am happy to assist in drafting amendments to constitutional article 6.3 to this effect, assisting with consultations on this and supporting the progress of such an amendment through conference. I would like further clarification on “like the executive and our mother party”?

    Proposal 3: Access to Executive Committee
    I know that this is a huge problem. I’m based in the West Country, and am all to familiar with the London/rest of the UK divide. It is a constitutional requirement to meet in person, and indeed it does help with team building. There is no reason however that additional meetings cannot be held via skype, and indeed this has been done regularly in the past. I wouldn’t however seek to remove the requirement to meet in person entirely from the constitution, as it would impair communication to some extent. Having extensively explored options for relocating meetings in the past, it is simply cheaper (travel, meeting rooms and accommodation – even using local party facilities) to hold meetings in London, hence this location. It also removes the added expense of also moving the staff member. This would of course not be the case if dramatic changes to the executive member’s locations occurred, and accordingly the composition of the executive (geographically) must be monitored. There are of course financial regulations to ensure that exec members are not left out of pocket- with the possibility of hardship funds to also address this. To summarise: if at any stage meeting in London becomes more costly than other locations (in terms of both money and compounded travel time) then moving exec meetings should be explored. People should not be financially prohibited from attending meetings. Skype should be a valuable add-on.

    Proposal 4: Access to Liberal Youth Conference
    Finding feasible and affordable conference venues is not easy, and where possible, moving the location regularly to ensure that members are not routinely exempt from attending conference due to distance is vital. If elected, with the events officer, I will promote the role of conference host to branches in effort to ensure that conference doesn’t always mean Manchester. The travel question will also be a category considered when selecting locations. The interactive elements around IR Cymru conference policies on PCN are a great idea, and definitely one to be spread. There is definitely room for improved social media around conference and I would been keen to look into this with the communications officer. Tweeting key decisions or holding web chat sessions.

    Proposal 5: Policy making for the whole of the UK
    I would be interested to hear more of what you are looking for in terms of “thought given to differing aspects in devolved states.” As above, the PCN is great- it’s genius and I want it for federal LY. I will look into producing guidance to support the conference/policy committees with policy selection and would welcome your input into this. I also want templates online to help more ordinary members to produce policy.

    Proposal 6: Joint Elections
    Yes: if e-voting is deemed affordable and constitutionally compliant, then I see no reason not to coordinate far more efficiently!

    Proposal 7: Collaborated Campaigning & Training
    Agreed. Let’s work smarter: I want everyone to know what everyone else is doing. With the federal chair acting as a conduit for communications, and enabling greater use of existing resources we can run excellent federal campaigns with space for local twist. I love the Honest Lets campaign and public transport policies; on equal marriage there is much duplicate work however that can be reduced. Equally, budget can be saved if campaign printing for example is better coordinated! Ideally I’d also like to see campaigns selected on a logical basis- with end goals in mind, and I would look into developing a structure to enable this. Finally, there are many great training modules held federally which can be shared: online joint training to be used etc. If elected, this is what I will facilitate.
    Proposal 8: Increased vital Funding
    I would like to consider a mechanism for greater input from the regions and federal exec members into the budgeting process. I would add the proviso that for many years the organisation’s budget has been stretched to cover the constitutional basics – staffing, legal obligations, conference, elections and meetings. With the advent of e-voting and the increased reach of social media there will be a decrease in these basic demands. Of course, this is where fundraising raises it’s ugly head: Liberal Youth struggle with this, and opportunities do need exploring. I want to discuss these challenges and opportunities with members and the party to ensure that we can access them. I’ll also work to ensure that the regions make effective use of the staffing support that is available.

    Proposal 9: Increased Support
    I will implement procedures, in liaison with LDHQ to ensure that the staff member can be a real resource to all of LY. Having been in that position, I know how important getting this right is: days kicking your heals when you could be helping out is annoying!

    I hope that this answers your questions at least to some extent. I look forwards to elaborating further in the hustings! I will do all that I can to ensure that the problems face by our regions are effectively and as permanently as possible resolved. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with further questions via my website: http://katypritchard.wordpress.com

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