Liberal Youth Conference Preview: The Big Motions

This weekend, Liberal Youth will meet in Edinburgh for their Spring Conference. For those of you who will be making the trip, or for those who will not be going but wish to be kept abreast of the motions being voted on, The Libertine has put together this short guide to the big policy motions and the all-important constitutional amendment to change the name of the youth wing.

The full text of all the motions and amendments is available in the Conference agenda which can be viewed here.

Constitutional Amendment: Change of Name

By Tom Davies, Motion Summator

The suggestion to change the name of Liberal Youth to Young Liberals might sound like an inconsequential and cosmetic change. After all, as the old adage goes, ‘if it isn’t broken, why fix it?’

However, I would like to encourage you to think about this amendment as more than just a change in name, but a statement we are making as a youth wing to move beyond the 2015 election result, and into a brighter and hopefully more liberal future.

This name change will be the first step in a comprehensive rebrand, including a new logo and a new motto, and will be a strong, clear message that the youth wing is a fighting force for the 21st century, which can spread and advance the cause of liberalism up and down the land.

We need to send a statement, both to the public, and perhaps to the federal party, that we are not simply a tired old brand or a spent political force. We speak for the ideology of the future, not the past. We are Young Liberals, and we should wear that label as a badge of pride.

Policy Motion: Tuition Fees

By Theo Scott, Motion Proposer

It might appear odd at first to see a Scottish student proposing that Liberal Youth adopts support for university tuition fees across the UK.

I arrived at this position as a result of seeing the dire state of affairs that has arisen in Scotland today, and how it compares to the rest of the UK. Far from being “free”, the tuition fee policy here comes at a severe cost. Scotland has seen 152,000 college places cut since 2010, funding for local authorities which run most schools slashed, the attainment gap between rich and poor as wide as ever, and the number of children from poor backgrounds going to university remaining stubbornly static. In fact, you are now twice as likely to attend university in England if you come from a poor background than you are in Scotland. What good is free university tuition if our children don’t get the education they need to even apply to university, never mind attend?

A fair, progressive policy would ensure that those who gain the most benefit from university contribute the most to its funding. It would ensure that the revenue generated would go straight to those most in need, just like our pupil premium. Liberal Democrats need to finally confront the spectre that has been hanging over us for the last five years, and adopt a university tuition policy that is just in principle and in practice.

Policy Motion: No to No Platform

By Ciarán Morrissey, Motion Proposer

There are a lot of misconceptions about what anti-No-Platform campaigners want. We don’t think you should be obliged to give anyone your attention, or that you ought to attend debates you have no interest in. We don’t think a pundit should be able to turn up at your living room and demand a soapbox. And we don’t think that somebody likely to assault, grope, or otherwise attack you, should be given free rein on your campus. But what we do think, and what we think quite strongly, is that universities should be a place of free and open discussion.

Freedom of expression is a dangerous thing. It has toppled dictators, slain sacred cows, and removed the privilege and mysticism that so many structures of power have relied on for their continued existence. It has always been under threat, and always been achieved after hard-fought and hard-won battles, and we are in the midst of yet another struggle to preserve it. One of the core principles of liberal philosophy is that we are all morally equal and morally autonomous. We do not need a priest, a prince, or a professor to tell us how to live our lives – we are capable of doing that ourselves, of reasoning with one another, and resolving, collectively and democratically, how our society should be run.

No-Platforming removes this element from university life. It allows a comparatively small number of the student body to stifle wider discussion by branding some views outside of the realm of what may be discussed. Casting out ‘bad’ viewpoints is nothing new – religious authorities, censors, and government actors have been doing it for centuries, and the reasons have always been broadly similar. The logic is that some views are so harmful, so damaging to social cohesion, or so distasteful, that they cannot possibly have any merit, and therefore ought not be debated.

This trend is deeply illiberal, regressive, and reductive, and something that should be opposed by liberals nationwide. It is time for a national youth party to tackle this head-on, and defend the Enlightenment values of tolerance and free expression across British universities.

Policy Motion: Policing in Football

By Brian Stokes, Motion Proposer

So my motion is definitely the more niche of LY Conference this weekend. However, it’s arguably the least controversial too as it is a serious civil liberties issue too. Back in Glasgow in 2014, there was a football motion, while passed, it somehow forgot to mention this issue. People should always be able to travel to games and be able to enjoy games freely. Current laws give the police the right to treat all football fans as criminals without ever consulting them and this must be stated as wrong by a liberal party. Therefore we should back this motion this weekend.

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