This by-election was incredibly important to the party, as you might have guessed. Liberal Youth needed to step up. We did. This was by far Liberal Youth’s biggest and best by-election campaign yet, crucially make a difference right when it mattered. People on the doorstep, and our fellow members. warmed to seeing so many young members campaigning.
With the campaign able to provide reasonable travel expenses, £10 a day for food and accommodation for young members, it broke a lot of barriers that previously stopped young people campaigning. For this we must thank Dan Purchese on the campaigns staff. Whilst our Tory counter-parts were charging members for travel, we were helping ours with the cost.
This meant Team EastLY on the ground was a huge success. At our action weekend we had around 100 Liberal Youth members campaigning in Eastleigh. To see the campaign HQ full of young people was uplifting for everyone involved. We kept our buzz going with a Liberal Youth Rally hosted by Mike Thornton which was great way of getting us together and fired up.
Throughout the campaign there was always a group of Liberal Youth members, giving a boost to whoever they went out campaigning with.
But we didn’t just have boots on the ground! Liberal Youth branches up and down the country held phone banking sessions on campuses, usually involving pizza. The initial Obama campaign realised the power of students calling, often citing it as a crucial factor in his early campaign for the Democrat nomination. When they asked young supporters to make 5 calls, they made 50. The same applies to Liberal Youth. Members practically lived on Connect throughout the campaign and constantly beat targets. Branches in the north of the country showed that it doesn’t matter where you are, you can make a difference.
So yes, Liberal Youth supplied record number of young activists and ran an amazing phone banking operation. However this wasn’t the main success of Liberal Youth’s Eastleigh campaign.
When Kav & I ran for Co-Chair of Liberal Youth we wanted ‘an energised and engaged community of young liberals’. That is why I want to focus on the personal stories, the friendships built and great times shared because its this that made the Liberal Youth campaign so inspiring.
Take Vash, a school student from Gloucester. She only joined the party last month and turned up by herself to the campaign HQ to get involved despite not knowing a single person there. The welcoming atmosphere at HQ meant you were never without conversation or cake.
Matt Downey, the celebrity of the campaign, who missed his birthday and Valentine’s Day campaigning to get Mike elected. Everyone who heard that story gained another spring in their step.
Andrew Emmerson, who re-joined the party only last week and left the business he runs to spend time campaigning for Mike Thornton.
Those who took long bus journeys from Scotland and the north of England, travelling for hours on end just to make the Liberal Youth action weekend.
Students who, when they initially paid for their train ticket, saw their bank balance next to £0 before claiming their subsidy. The party has to remember students struggle to pay their next heating bill, but still spend so much on campaigning to get Liberal Democrats elected.
The story I heard the most was “I am really nervous Sam, I have never campaigned before …what if I’m rubbish”. Well, everyone who said that was persuaded to come and loved their time in Eastleigh.
This Liberal Youth campaign was all about the financial sacrifices made, degrees put on hold and weekends off work spent campaigning far away.
So to those saying Congratulations to me, Kav or the Exec I say – stop. The Thanks you really owe is to those who could not afford to come but still did, to those who were petrified about coming and to those had never campaigned before. They made it happen.
This Liberal Youth campaign was a joy to be a part of from the outset. We made a difference in a close election.
We’re going to be at Federal Conference in Brighton holding fringes, running a policy consultation and this May making a difference again in getting more Liberal Democrats elected.
My email is firstname.lastname@example.org – if you want to donate, offer advice or help for that May campaign get in touch. Likewise if you have suggestions on how we can improve our campaigns for May please tell us.
If you are a Liberal Youth member then join the Liberal Youth Facebook forum, come to the next Liberal Youth event and make a difference today.
Sam is Co-Chair of Liberal Youth.