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Young Liberals (UK)

  (Redirected from Liberal Youth)

Young Liberals is the youth and student group of the Liberal Democrats, a political party in the United Kingdom. Members of the Liberal Democrats under the age of 26 are automatically members of the Young Liberals, whilst those aged 26–30 can opt to join in addition to their party membership. Young Liberals usually runs a stall and some fringe events at the Liberal Democrat Federal Conference.

Young Liberals
ChairpersonCallum James Littlemore & Dan Schmeising
Vice-ChairpersonHermione Peace
Honorary PresidentTessa Munt
Founded1993; 25 years ago (1993) (as LDYS)
Merger ofUnion of Liberal Students
National League of Young Liberals
Headquarters8–10 Great George Street,
London SW1P 3AE
IdeologyLiberalism (British)
Social liberalism[1]
Social justice[2]
Economic liberalism
Mother partyLiberal Democrats
State partyScottish Young Liberals
Welsh Young Liberals
English Young Liberals
International affiliationInternational Federation of Liberal and Radical Youth (IFLRY)
European affiliationEuropean Liberal Youth (LYMEC)

Social liberalism, social justice, internationalism and pro-Europeanism are important components of the group's political philosophy. It is financially supported by the party and has offices at the Liberal Democrats' London headquarters.

The constitution of the Liberal Democrats requires an affiliated youth and student wing. Accordingly, Young Liberals is a Specified Associated Organisation (SAO) of the party. It is granted voting rights on important Liberal Democrat committees.

Young Liberals hosts its own annual conference and training weekend, known as Activate, and holds fringe events at the Liberal Democrats' Spring and Autumn Conferences. It also organises a range of other activities relevant to young people, on issues such as housing, employment and education.

Young Liberals is affiliated to both the International Federation of Liberal and Radical Youth (IFLRY) and European Liberal Youth. Its predecessors include the National League of Young Liberals (NLYL), founded in 1903 and the Union of Liberal Students (ULS), founded in 1920.


Liberal Democrats and Young LiberalsEdit

The Liberal Democrat's constitution grants Young Liberals at least one position on local party executives as well as one position on the Federal Board, Federal International Relations Committee and Federal People Development Committee. In addition, the Young Liberals are able to submit agenda items such as Policy motions, Business motions and constitutional amendments to the Liberal Democrat's Federal Conference, and Young Liberals members are able to vote on agenda items as individuals as part of one member one vote.[6] Young Liberals also regularly hosts fringe events at conference pertaining to policy and party issues that the organisation cares about.

Similarly the Scottish, Welsh and English branches of Young Liberals have positions on the bodies and committees of their respective State parties, and the Scottish and Welsh branches, as well as English Regions, are able to submit agenda items to their State/Regional conferences.

Organisation and StructureEdit

Federal organisationEdit

Young Liberals is the main party, organised in Great Britain on a federal basis, compromising of Welsh Young Liberals in Wales, Scottish Young Liberals in Scotland and English Young Liberals in England. The Convenor of each of these groups organises the regional activity of Young Liberals.


The federal Conference is the sovereign body of the Young Liberals and has power to determine policy and direction. The federal Young Liberals usually hosts two conferences a year, a conference in the Winter and a training weekend known as 'Activate' in the Summer, which also acts as the constitutionally mandated Annual General Meeting. At conferences policy motions which shape YL policy and amendments to the organisations constitution are debated, alongside training and speaker sessions.

In addition, during each conference there is an Executive Scrutiny session, whereby members of the executive submit reports to conference on their activities and actions in their job. After each report motions on officers are debated, wherein any member can submit a Motion of commendation, Motion of censure or Motion of no confidence in an officer. Motions of commendation and censure are non-binding opinions of conference passed by a simple majority, expressing either positive or negative opinion on the actions of an officer. Motions of no confidence are binding motions which if passed have the affect of removing an officer from their position and require a two thirds majority in order to pass.

Past Conference LocationsEdit

Year Winter Conference Venue Summer Conference/Activate Venue Notes
2010   University of York, York   University of Manchester, Manchester
2011   University of Essex 'None' Essex conference called "Autumn Conference" no Activate held
2012   Manchester   Adversane, Billingshurst
2013   Cardiff   Watchfield, Oxfordshire
2014 'None'   Cambridge Winter conference before 2015 was held at end of year instead of beginning
2015   Leeds   Birmingham
2016   Edinburgh   Bristol
2017   Sheffield   University of Nottingham, Nottingham
2018   St Catherine's College, Oxford   Swansea University, Swansea


The federal organisation of Young Liberals 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, Welfare & Access Officer and Non Portfolio Officer,[7]) 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 Young Liberals membership via an all-member ballot, terms beginning on 1 November and are responsible to Conference. The English, Scottish and Welsh representatives are elected by the memberships of the state organisations - English Young Liberals, Scottish Young Liberals and Welsh Young Liberals.[8]

Role Name
Chair Callum James Littlemore
Dan Schmeising
Vice Chair Hermione Peace
Finance Officer Finn Conway
Communications Officer Harry Samuels
Campaigns Officer Charlie Murphy
Membership Development Officer Alexander Howarth
Events Officer Huw James
Policy Officer Tara Copeland
International Officer Ben Whitlock
Welfare & Accessibility Officer Katharine Macy
Non-Portfolio Officer Erin Yarrow
English Young Liberals Chair Ems Simpson[note 1]
Welsh Young Liberals Chair Thomas Hughes
Scottish Young Liberals Chair Becca Penderleith

Honorary RolesEdit

There is an Honorary President and six Honorary Vice-Presidents of the organisation, who are elected by the membership to work alongside the executive to support the organisation, advise and often act as a form of institutional memory as well as give the Executive guidance and to act as spokespeople within the wider party.

Role Name
Honorary President Tessa Munt
Honorary Vice-President Jack Hughes
Stuart Wheatcroft
April Preston
Kevin McNamara
Morgan Inwood
Liam Scanlon-Brown


In addition to the Executive, there are five committees which are responsible for the administration and implementation of its area, working alongside the executive. Committees are chaired by the Officer that is responsible for that area, for example the Policy Officer chairs the Policy Committee, and the other members of the committee are made up of members elected by the membership alongside the Officers and, with the exception of the International Committee, representatives from each of the three state organisations.

Campaigns CommitteeEdit

Role Name
Campaigns Officer (Chair) Charlie Murphy
Elected Members Sophie Thornton
Tara Hussain
State Representatives England Vacant
Scotland Ross Stalker
Wales Vacant
Non-voting members
Communications Officer Harry Samuels
International Committee Rep

Conference CommitteeEdit

Role Name
Events Officer (Chair) Huw James
Elected Members Katharine Macy
Hermione Peace
State Representatives England Vacant
Scotland Calum Paterson

Policy CommitteeEdit

Role Name
Policy Officer (Chair) Tara Copeland
Elected Members Erin Yarrow
James Bliss
State Representatives England Matt Downey
Scotland Vacant
Wales Fergus Llewelyn Turtle

International Congress Delegates CommitteeEdit

Role Name
International Officer (Chair) Ben Whitlock
Elected Members Peter Banks
Ross Campbell
Meraj Khan

Communications CommitteeEdit

Role Name
Policy Officer (Chair) Harry Samuels
Elected Members Tara Hussain
State Representatives England Vacant
Scotland Richard Wood
Wales Amy Gaskin


Outside of universities, Young Liberals eschews a formal, hierarchical branch structure, instead encouraging members to organise themselves and to use their local Liberal Democrat Party for financial affairs.[9] Active members communicate with their local Youth Chair, who liaises with the parent party's representatives and with the federal Young Liberals executive. In this way the activities of young and student members remain formally independent from but closely engaged with the Liberal Democrats.

Young Liberals 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 Young Liberals, though for administrative purposes it is a branch of the English Young Liberals 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.


Liberal Democrat mergersEdit

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 Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg.[10] 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, the National League of Young Liberals, (the Liberal party's youth wings), the Young Social Democrats and Students for Social Democracy (the youth and student wings of the Social Democratic Party).

The Liberal Party and the SDP each had separate student and youth wings until their merger in 1988; these merged in England to form the Student Liberal Democrats and the Young Liberal Democrats of England. In Scotland, there was a separate Scottish Young Liberal Democrats (which also included students of all ages). 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 the late Charles Kennedy. LDYS reorganised into a federal structure in 2000 and then admitted Scottish Young Liberal Democrats as its Scottish federal unit in 2002 - forming a single GB-wide organisation for the first time since the combined ULS-NLYL committees of the 1970s.

List of former ChairsEdit

Name Term in Office University Notes
Young Liberals Callum James Littlemore 2018 - Present Cardiff University Co-Chairs;
Dan Schmeising Cardiff University
Finn Conway 2018[note 2] University of Oxford Elected on 27 July following resignation of previous chairs.
Thomas Gravatt (Acting) 2018[note 3] University of Southampton Acting Chair
Hannah Ashworth 2017 - 2018 University of Southampton Co-Chairs; Resigned part way through term
Thomas Gravatt University of Southampton
Charlie Kingsbury 2016 - 2017 University of York
Liberal Youth Michael Chappell 2015 - 2016 Aberystwyth University Co-Chairs
Charlie Kingsbury University of York
Alex Harding-Last 2014 - 2015
Sarah Harding 2013 - 2014 University of Manchester
Sam Fisk 2013 University of York Co-Chairs; Elected following Tom Wood's resignation.
Kavya Kaushik
Tom Wood 2011 - 2013 University of Portsmouth Resigned part way through second term
Martin Shapland 2010 - 2011 University of Birmingham
Elaine Bagshaw 2008 - 2010 University of Birmingham
Liberal Democrat
Youth and Students
Mark Gettleson 2006 - 2008 University of Cambridge
Gez Smith 2005 - 2006 University of Bristol
Chris Lomax 2004 - 2005 University of Cambridge
Brian Robson 2003 - 2004 University of Leeds
Alison Goldsworthy 2002 - 2003 University of Bath
Miranda Piercy 2000 - 2002 University of Warwick
Geoff Payne 1999–2000 University of Oxford
Polly Martin 1998–1999
Hywel Morgan 1997–1998
Ruth Berry 1996–1997
Tim Prater 1995–1996 Aston University
Phil Jones 1995
Alex Wilcock 1994–1995 Essex University
Kiron Reid 1993–1994 University of Liverpool

For Chairs of predecessors see List of National Chairs of the Union of Liberal Students and List of Chairs of the National League of Young Liberals

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Jack Worral elected as new English Chair but will not take office until January
  2. ^ Chair from 27th July to 31st October
  3. ^ Acting Chair from 12th May to 27th July


  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. ^ (17 April 2018). "Brexit".
  5. ^ Elgot, Jessica (28 May 2017). "Tim Farron: Lib Dems' pro-European strategy will be proved right". the Guardian.
  6. ^ "The Federal Constitution of the Liberal Democrats" (pdf). Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  7. ^ "Meet The Exec". Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  8. ^ "The Federal Constitution – Liberal Youth" (pdf). Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  9. ^ Archived 30 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ "Nick Clegg launches Liberal Youth" (Press release). Liberal Democrat Voice. 25 March 2008. Retrieved 29 January 2013.