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Liberal Youth
Liberal Youth
President Naomi Smith
Chairperson Vacant
Treasurer Erlend Watson
Founded 2008
Headquarters 4 Cowley Street,
London SW1P 3NB
Mother party Liberal Democrats
International affiliation International Federation of Liberal and Radical Youth (IFLRY)
European affiliation European Liberal Youth (LYMEC)
British affiliation British Youth Council

Liberal Youth (formerly Liberal Democrat Youth and Students and before that National League of Young Liberals) is the youth and student group of the UK Liberal Democrats.

Liberal Democrat party members who are under 26 years old or attending higher education institutions are automatically members of Liberal Youth if they share this information at registration. Liberal Democrat members between 26 and 29 years old can also join Liberal Youth by paying an additional subscription. The group is financially supported by the Liberal Democrat party and has offices in the party headquarters in Cowley Street, London, but retains total operational control over its internal elections and campaigns.


Recent history

Liberal Youth is the successor organisation to all the youth and student wings of the Liberal Democrats, the Liberal Party and the SDP. The most notable such is NLYL, the Young Liberals of the 1960s and 1970s, who were a significant and radical force within the Liberal Party of the time. Liberal Democrat Youth and Students was created in 1993 from a merger of the Student Liberal Democrats and the Young Liberal Democrats of England who had shared many resources in the run-up. The merger talks were overseen by a committee which included Sarah Gurling, now wife of Charles Kennedy. Other well-known ex-Liberal Youth members have included Tim Farron, James Graham, and Jo Swinson.

As Secretary, Jo oversaw the restructuring of the organization in 1999. The executive positions now broadly mirror those in Liberal Democrat branches, with a Chair and Vice-Chairs of Membership Development, Campaigns, Finance, and Communications. The Scottish Young Liberal Democrats formally integrated themselves into the federal structure in 2002; previously, the two organisations and their predecessors had been completely separate. Spring 2008 saw the announcement of the renaming of LDYS as 'Liberal Youth'. The decision to do this was taken at the 2007 Autumn conference.[1] The following spring, Liberal Youth Scotland and IR Cymru relaunched as well; the former was particularly influential at the 2009 Scottish federal spring conference, with one speaker winning the overall prize for best speech and with two policy motions successfully passing.

A Liberal Youth block stands for election in the Labour-dominated National Union of Students, and has previously achieved places on its National Executive Committee. Also, some students have been elected to office in individual unions on a Liberal Democrat platform - recent successes include Coventry University, the University of Manchester, the University of Glasgow and electing a President at Exeter College.[2] They also have a non-sabbatical officer at the University of Plymouth Students' Union, among several others both sabbatical and non-sabbatical.

Internal organisation

Since 2000 Liberal Youth has been, like the main party, organised on a federal basis with organisations in different geographical regions having different spheres of influence.

Local branches, which are generally tied to a local party or academic institution such as a college, school, or university, run electoral campaigns, conduct community politics and act as auxiliaries to the local party.

Liberal Youth is divided into state organisations - IR Cymru in Wales, and Liberal Youth Scotland in Scotland - who are represented within the state parties. The England area is subdivided into regions, who are free to set their constitution and their role as a link between local branches or sometimes more. All regions report to the England Convenor, who represents them on the executive; Scottish and Welsh Convenors have similar roles and responsibilities.

The federal organisation of Liberal Youth organises liaisons with other party and international bodies (see below) and represents the organisation to the federal party and to the public. This comprises the Federal Executive, which operates as the executive committee; the Conference Committee, which operates Liberal Youth conference; the Policy Committee, which examines the policy book and develops policy proposals; and the International Committee, which liaises with foreign organisations. Around busy periods such as general elections, an Office Committee can be formed to co-ordinate work from Liberal Youth's Cowley Street headquarters.

These committees, barring ex officio members such as representatives from state organisations and delegates from the executive, are elected by the membership of Liberal Youth in an all-member ballot and are responsible to Conference.

In addition, 8 General Executive members are elected to share workloads with Vice-Chairs, Committees, and other business. As of the 2009 elections, these are Alan Belmore, Victor Chamberlain, Cara Drury, Patrick Elsdon, James Harrison, Alex Royden, Martin Shapland and Jennifer Warren. Currently, and in contrast to Labour Students, no Liberal Youth elected position is sabbatical or paid.

Within the Liberal Democrats

As a Specified Associated Organisation (SAO) of the party, Liberal Youth is autonomous and thus occasionally adopts policies which contradict those of the main party; it is then entitled to submit policy it adopts to the party's federal conference. Liberal Youth is, however, largely financially dependent on the party.

The constitution of the Liberal Democrats grants Liberal Youth at least one position on local party executives, while the federal committees such as the Federal Executive, Federal Policy Committee and International Relations Committee each admit an observer from the federal Liberal Youth organisation.

In addition, Liberal Youth is also granted a number of voting representatives at the Federal Conference of the Liberal Democrat party based on the number of members, as are local parties. This privilege is extended to the separate Scottish and Welsh Conferences, as well as to regional conferences within England and to the party's English Council, the confederal body through which the regional parties of England make joint decisions.

International links

Liberal Youth is a member of two international youth organisations:


In recent years, Liberal Youth has organised a campaign called 'Homophobia is Gay',[3] which has received third-party endorsement. International campaigns have also often been run – in 2006, Liberal Youth launched the 'Save Darfur' campaign, run in conjunction with the Aegis Trust, putting pressure on the government to divest from firms aiding genocide in Darfur as well as halt the deportation of Sudanese asylum seekers into Darfur, and the United 4 Belarus campaign in 2004 and 2005 worked with European liberals to work against political repression in Lukashenko's Belarus. Liberal Youth has also been significantly involved in the campaign for green taxes and for an end to drug prohibition.

In 2009, a range of campaigns was launched mainly in support of Liberal Democrat policies for the 2010 General Election, including the pledge to increase education funding and ultimately offer free education across the whole UK, the repeal of illiberal laws under the Freedom Bill, for universal citizenship at 16 and to create innovative environmental projects employing young people to kick-start the economy. Liberal Youth Scotland and IR Cymru continue to run 'Homophobia is Gay' in support of reversing the ban on gay and bisexual blood donations, as well as the support of a national Living Wage of £7000 pa for students and the unemployed.

List of Chairs

  • Elaine Bagshaw (2008-January 2010)
  • Mark Gettleson (2006-2008)
  • Gez Smith (2005-2006)
  • Chris Lomax (2004-2005)
  • Brian Robson (2003-2004)
  • Alison Goldsworthy (2002-2003)
  • Miranda Piercy (2000-2002)
  • Geoff Payne (1999-2000)
  • Polly Martin (1998-1999)
  • Hywel Morgan (1997-1998)
  • Ruth Berry (1996-1997)
  • Tim Prater (1995-1996)
  • Phil Jones (1995)
  • Alex Wilcock (1994-1995)
  • Kiron Reid (1993-1994)

Chairs and chairmen of predecessor organisations

  • Michael Harskin (1990-1991)
  • Jane Brophy (1989-1990)
  • Rachel Pitchford (1987-1989)
  • Felix Dodds (1985-1987)
  • Janice Turner (1983-85)
  • Susan Younger Ross (1981-1983)
  • John Leston (1980-1981)
  • Alan Sherman (1979-1980)
  • Pat Colman (1977-1978)
  • Steve Atack (1976-1977)
  • Ruth Addison (1973-1976)
  • Peter Hain MP (1971-73)
  • Tony Greaves (1970-1971)
  • Louis Eaks (1969-1970)
  • George Kiloh (1965-1967)

See also


External links



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