Why did you decide to run?
I’ve been wrestling with leaving the party for about 18 months, but around three weeks ago I came to the realisation that I couldn’t do that and not be involved in politics. Instead I decided to take a stand for the things I believe are going wrong in our party.
So you have decided to piss in the tent then?
In a way, yes. Pissing against a tent isn’t very effective, unless you want to annoy someone at a festival.
What will be your number one priority if elected?
Equipping Liberal Youth and our branches to be more effective campaigners, in all senses. This doesn’t just mean training on how to design leaflets, and recruit more leafleters though. I want to make our branches effective campaigning units in their communities and campuses to tackle misogyny and inequality, to have success in student union elections and to take an active part in NUS.
What is your plan to make us effective campaigners?
Groups like Everyday Sexism and No More Page 3 have run hugely successful campaigns tackling misogyny and rape culture, so I’d like to work with them to learn from their methods to allow us to put together an effective and engaging campaign on these issues off the back of our upcoming Freshers materials. More generally give LY members support to engage with community councils, community groups and local parties to effect change and run campaigns, providing them with materials and backing to make big waves.
How will you encourage branches to get more involved in SU & NUS elections?
A lot of the reason people don’t get involved in SU politics is simply a lack of understanding of how to. We need to develop resources and training on how our branches and members can get involved. Winning student elections is remarkably similar to winning the Lib Dem way! We have a number of former SABBs in our ranks, and they can lead the way on more people getting involved.
What is the one reason people should vote for you?
Liberal Youth is pottering along very nicely, doing a good job helping in elections, but I think we need something more than the status quo. We need a Liberal Youth that is the radical heart of our party, equipping a new generation of campaigners. We also need to be putting focus on the Scottish independence referendum, which I can’t believe no other candidate has mentioned! Liberal Youth shouldn’t just be a platoon of activists the party can call on for any election they see fit – why should we campaign for people who voted against equal marriage, or for secret courts? I think there is an argument to be made for Liberal Youth being more choosy in campaigning for people who have sanctioned horrible policies in Government.
Do you think you winning will give you the sufficient mandate to go against current Liberal Youth policy?
I don’t think my platform goes against Liberal Youth policy really. Fundamentally my platform is in keeping with Lib Dem policy, like increasing access to education, and protecting the poor and disabled.
Do you think Liberal Youth is too Southern-Centric?
Definitely. Obviously this is a problem with the office being in London, but meetings and events need to be held round the country. Activate needs to be held in cities too, rural locations in the middle of nowhere are a nightmare.
Being Chair of Liberal Youth is a very consuming job; do you have the stamina to stay in office for 16 months?
I was Vice-President (Communications) of Liberal Youth Scotland for two years, and for most of the first year I was also effectively acting VP Campaigns. I know how demanding party positions can be. I don’t pretend that when I have assignments due or exams I won’t be a little quiet, but I will see it through and make up for it at other times.
Callum Leslie is running to be Chair of Liberal Youth. You can find out more him and the other candidates here.
All candidates were invited to be interviewed.