The Libertine has interviewed the new members of the Liberal Youth exec on a range of topics, in order to keep you in the loop. Here is the next in the series, an interview with our new Non-Portfolio Officer, Reece Edmends.
1) What is the first thing you will do in office?
I’m going to help our lovely Staff Officer, Kat Pugh, by collating all the information from a survey done a few months ago, which asked local branches how they felt Liberal Youth could better help them. From the look of it, there seems to be a lot of valuable stuff in there, so I’m going to make everyone’s life easier by condensing it into a more digestible format.
2) Is there anything you would say to the other candidate? Is there anyone else you would like to thank, or pay tribute to?
Cripes, that was a close election! I look forward to hearing from you, Stace, about how you would have approached the role of Liberal Youth Non-Portfolio Officer. I would also welcome any advice that you might have.
There are two people I would particularly like to thank, both of whom are keen members of the Liberal Youth family. The first is our coruscatingly brilliant Libertine editor, who does an enormous amount of work for us and has been particularly nice to me since I joined the Party. He nominated me, along with that other lustrous gem, Ab Brightman. Many thanks to you both.
(Aww shucks, too kind Reece – Ed. Morgan Griffith-David)
3) What do I think is the main challenge facing Liberal Youth?
The main challenge which faces us is one which faces all political movements in the twenty-first century: increasing our active membership and making them more engaged. There’s no easy solution to this, but I think our recent co-option election indicated that there is a vast pool of young members out there who would be happy to get more involved if opportunities were presented.
Increase our active membership, of course, and we increase our lobbying power within the party. If we were a stronger organisation, we would be able to push harder for the items of policy we really want, like paid internships.
4) Turnout has risen since the election- how to take advantage of this and increase involvement within Liberal Youth?
Personally, I think our Liberal Youth conferences are great ways to engage the membership, but I suppose financial and geographical considerations mean that turnout at these shindigs can often be quite low.
There are two answers to your question, I think. Firstly, we should get more involved with local Liberal Youth branches, as people become involved with the Liberal Democrats usually at that level. Secondly, use the Internet more effectively, and I can disclose to you that our new Chairs have a lot of plans in this direction.
5) How do I see Liberal Youth acting in relation to the main party?
As a defiantly independent and critical friend. In Paddy Ashdown’s words, we must ‘make the leader’s life hell’. We should be proud of the fact we make our own policy, and that we are one of the more radical and (I’m going to get slated for this from some quarters) social liberal voices within the Liberal Democrats. It is for this reason that I voted against the recent Liberal Youth Conference amendment calling for us to move away from a ‘Party within a Party’ mentality and towards that of a campaigning organisation. I did not see how this would help us fight our corner in internal policy debates. But I ought to stress that this is just a personal view.
I support current Liberal Youth policy, which calls for the system of tuition fees to be replaced with a fairer alternative. I made these opinions clear in a November article for the Libertine. However, I respect the fact that there is a diversity of opinion in Liberal Youth as regards this issue, and I would be happy to reassert my views if there were a reawakening of the debate.
7) How do I see the exec. relating to members, local branches, regions and devolved nations?
Now you mention it, this was one of my major priorities during the campaign. I came up with an erzatz manifesto consisting of four ‘pledges’:
1. Get all the details of the local branches and put them on the LY website.
2. Launch a consultation with the three state Convenors to find out what branches want from the exec, to see if the lack of contact is a problem.
3. Politely encourage regional chairs to visit their local branches and try to help them do so.
4. Lead by example by visiting as many local branches near me as I can.
8) How will we know your term was a success?
For starters, by seeing if I have achieved the above!
Reece Edmends is our new Non-Porfolio Officer and incredibly sweet!