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Liberal Youth

Liberal Youth
President Helen Duffett
Chairperson Alex Harding
Treasurer James King and Robin McGhee
Founded 1993 (as LDYS)
Headquarters 8–10 Great George Street,
London SW1P 3AE
Membership 11px 7,300
Ideology Liberalism (British)
Green liberalism[1]
Community politics[2]
Mother party Liberal Democrats
International affiliation International Federation of Liberal and Radical Youth (IFLRY)
European affiliation European Liberal Youth (LYMEC)

Liberal Youth is the youth and student group of the Liberal Democrats, a political party in the United Kingdom.

Liberal Democrat members who are under 26 years old or attending higher/further education institutions are automatically members of Liberal Youth if they agree to share this information at registration. The group is financially supported by the party and has offices in the Liberal Democrats' London headquarters.

Liberal Democrats and Liberal Youth

The constitution of the Liberal Democrats requires an affiliated Youth and Student wing. Accordingly, Liberal Youth is a Specified Associated Organisation (SAO) to the party. The Liberal Democrat Party constitution grants Liberal Youth at least one position on local party executives; while federal Liberal Democrat 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 Welsh Conferences, Conferences of English regions and to the Liberal Democrats' English Council (the confederal body through which the regional parties of England make joint decisions).[4]

History and structure

Liberal Democrat mergers

The organisation was formerly known as Liberal Democrat Youth and Students (LDYS). Spring 2008 saw LDYS renamed as 'Liberal Youth', at an event hosted by the recently elected Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg.[5] Liberal Youth is the successor organisation to all the youth and student wings of the Liberal Democrats, the Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party, including the Union of Liberal Students and National League of Young Liberals, the "Young Liberals" of the 1960s and 1970s.

Liberal Democrat Youth and Students was itself 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, who later married Charles Kennedy.

Federal organisation

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[citation needed]. Since then, Liberal Youth has been, like the main party, organised in Great Britain on a federal basis, compromising of IR Cymru in Wales, Liberal Youth Scotland in Scotland and Liberal Youth England in England. The Convenor of each of these groups organises the regional activity of Liberal Youth.


The federal organisation of Liberal Youth organises liaisons with Liberal Democrats and affiliated organisations. The Federal Executive (current positions: Chair, Vice-Chair, Events Officer, Campaigns Officer, Communications Officer, Finance Officer, International Officer, Policy Officer, Membership Development Officer and two Non-Portfolio Officers,[6]) operates alongside committees for Conferences, Policy and International affairs. 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, terms beginning on 1 July, and are responsible to Conference. The English, Scottish and Welsh representatives are elected by the memberships of the state organisations - Liberal Youth England, Liberal Youth Scotland and IR Cymru.[6]

The current executive is as follows:[7]

Position Holder
Chair Alex Harding
Vice Chair(job share) Charlie Kingsbury
Michael Chappell
Finance Officers (job share) James King
Robin McGhee
Campaigns Officer Irfan Ahmed
Communications Officer Eilidh Macfarlane
Events Officers (job share) Emily Tester
Alex White
International Officer Ab Brightman
Policy Officer Ryan Mercer
Membership Development Officer Nomi Farhi
Chair of Liberal Youth England Matt Downey
President of Liberal Youth Scotland Euan Davidson
Chair of IR Cymru Sam Bennett
Non-Portfolio Officers (two positions) Michael Tavares
Michael Wilson


Outside of universities, Liberal Youth eschews a formal, hierarchical branch structure, instead encouraging members to organise themselves and to use their local Liberal Democrat Party for financial affairs.[8] Active members communicate with their local Youth Chair, who liaises with the parent party's representatives and with the federal Liberal Youth executive. In this way the activities of young and student members remain formally independent from but closely engaged with the Liberal Democrats.

Liberal Youth has had an active branch in Northern Ireland since 2010, under the name of Liberal Youth Northern Ireland, which operates as the youth branch of the Northern Ireland Liberal Democrats. Since 2014 it has become an official branch of Liberal Youth, though for administrative purposes it is a branch of Liberal Youth (England) rather than a separate state branch. Liberal Youth Northern Ireland maintains a close working relationship with Alliance Youth, the youth wing of the Alliance Party. The current chair of Liberal Youth Northern Ireland is Stephen McFarland (October 2010 to present).

International links

Liberal Youth is a member of two international youth organisations:


Liberal Youth passes policy and runs campaigns, it is currently working on areas including equal marriage, internships and sensible drugs policy. Past campaigns include 'Homophobia is Gay'.[9] In addition, Liberal Youth run events for their members, from conferences and training weekends, like Activate.[10]

List of Chairs

  • Alex Harding (2014 – Present)
  • Sarah Harding (2013 – 2014)
  • Sam Fisk & Kavya Kaushik (2013)
  • Harry Matthews (Acting) (2013)
  • Tom Wood (2011-2013)
  • Martin Shapland (2010–2011)
  • Alan Belmore (2010)
  • Elaine Bagshaw (2008–2010)
  • 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


  • George Kiloh (1965–1967)
  • Louis Eaks (1969–1970)
  • Tony Greaves (1970–1971)
  • Peter Hain (1971–73)
  • Ruth Addison (1973–1975)
  • Steve Atack (1975–1977)
  • Pat Colman (1977–1978)
  • Alan Sherwell (1978–1980)
  • John Leston (1980–1981)
  • Susan Younger-Ross (1981–1983)
  • Janice Turner (1983–85)
  • Felix Dodds (1985–1987)
  • Rachel Pitchford (1987–1989)
  • Jane Brophy (1989–1990)
  • Michael Harskin (1990–1991)

Young Liberal Democrats:

  • Sara Tustin (1991-1992)
  • Kiron Reid (1992-1993)


Student Liberal Democrats:

  • Paul Farthing (1988-1989)
  • Ben Rich (1989-1990)
  • Mark Glover (1990-1991)
  • Karen Inglis (1991-1992)
  • Paul Simpson (1992)

List of full time staff

Full-time staff. Two positions - one an elected sabbatical post, the other an appointed member of staff. Variously called Youth & Student Officer (appointed), National Organiser or Communications Officer, elected.[11]

Swithin Long 1991 Richard Grayson 1991 – 92 Ali Rothwell 1992 Rob Banks (National Organiser) August 93 to August 94 Neil Fawcett (Youth & Student Officer) July 93 - Dec 94. Jon Whitehouse (National Organiser) 94 - 95 Neil Weston 1995. Louise Fish National Organiser 95 – 96 Gareth Epps 96 - 97 Colin Ross 97 – 98 James Graham 1998

Laura Davies 2001-2 & Gareth Epps Veena Hudson 2002-3 Dan O'Connor (Communications officer) Naomi (2003) James Blanchard 2003-4 – and Ryan Cullen Naomi Smith, 2004-5 Paul Pettinger 2006- 2009 Katy Pritchard in 2010

See also


  1. ^ The Green Book – new directions for Liberals in government, Mike Tuffrey, 5 March 2013, Liberal Democrat Voice
  2. ^ A challenge to Community Politics, Iain Roberts, 13 June 2011, Liberal Democrat Voice
  3. ^ How Lib Dem members describe their political identity: ‘liberal’, ‘progressive’ and ‘social liberal’ top the bill, Stephen Tall, 30 April 2011, Liberal Democrat Voice
  4. ^ "The Constitutions of the Liberal Democrats" (PDF). Retrieved 7 November 2011. 
  5. ^ "Nick Clegg launches Liberal Youth" (Press release). Liberal Democrat Voice. 25 March 2008. Retrieved 29 January 2013. 
  6. ^ a b "The Federal Constitution – Liberal Youth" (PDF). Retrieved 7 November 2011. 
  7. ^ "National Executive". Liberal Youth. Retrieved 14 December 2012. 
  8. ^[dead link]
  9. ^ "Coverage of Hompohobia is Gay campaign". Pink News. 29 September 2006. Retrieved 23 January 2011. 
  10. ^ "Liberal Youth Activate June 2012". Liberal Youth. June 2012. 
  11. ^ Lists of National Chairs and full time posts of predecessor organisations from information in discussion on Facebook of former executive members and post holders, October 2013 and March 2014

External links