by Joshua Dixon
A lot of young people are disappointed with our record on tuition fees, EMA and rising youth unemployment. With this in mind, why should young people turn to the Liberal Democrats as the party for them?
Well, in the end I don’t think there was a particular policy that made me join the Liberal party. It was an approach and I think the reality is that we sometimes forget that it was only actually fashionable and exciting to join the Liberal Democrats for about 10 days in 2010. You know it was pretty nerdy to join us when I joined. You didn’t get any street cred for joining the Liberal party at that time so when you had that little moment when it was we were in danger of believing our own hype. We were this wonderful, idealistic, even though we are idealistic, revolution or movement that somehow let everybody down. We’re not; we are an idealistic movement that is deliberately awkward. Awkward in terms of the establishment and awkward with how we fit in with the popular view and that is still the case. If you’re in the North East being Labour is just something you are, whilst being Tory you wouldn’t even dream of it. Being a Liberal…it takes a bit of imagination and bit of character. Being a Liberal Democrat is being in a party with a bit of imagination and some character and a party who are idealist, want to make a difference and don’t believe politics should be run by people who pay the most money.
How important is the role that young people play in within the Liberal Democrats?
Well its hugely important. When I got involved I was 16, I got involved in the youth wing and it was great, particularly when I was at Sixth Form College and there were only two of us. But you come to Liberal Youth conferences like you had in those days and you come to the main conferences where there are other young people and you realise you’re not on your own and that is very important. I look at that cohort who were around me at the time and at least two or three were MPs, theres loads others doing things and there were loads of people who came in from around the party and have done enormous things. Some have gone onto leadership positions within the party and others are doing fantastically impressive stuff who you never hear of on fundraising and making big differences in their communities. But its also about changing the thinking of the party because you come up with difficult ideas. In my day the Liberal Youth wing was an embarrassment to the leadership and now it’s sort of the other way round a bit (laughter) but umm… I do mean leadership in the broadest possible sense and your job [young people] is to be difficult. Thinking of new things, trying to be radical and trying to find ways of making the conference feel a little bit appalled because that’s how you’re going to develop new ideas. Some of them will be the ideas of the future. Not just that but as new campaigning technology comes along young people are bound to embrace that far more. Like last night we had a group from Texas, including a Democratic Dallas Judge, between yours and my age I would have thought, but they were all using Connect and it’s the stuff the Democratic party do nowadays…its sensational. The likes of me are a bit stodgy with the technology we use. Computers to me are like my car, I can make it work but don’t ask me how. People of your age are much more likely to embrace those things. You’re not just pushing the ideas and policies, but also the technology and the new campaign means to get our message across.
Joshua blogs at Liberal Insight