Young Liberals Election 2017

Over the past two years, I’ve served as your Events Officer. Trying my absolute best to boost the quality of the conferences that we hold, the training we offer, and the socials we all love to enjoy. Even if I do say so myself, I think I’ve done a good job. At Brighton Conference in 2016, we had over 100 people attend our wine reception with Ed Davey, Tessa Munt, Lynne Featherstone, to name a few. During Winter Conference 2017 we had a big turnout increase, nearly 40% more people attending compared to the last year. In York, as inebriated and stressy as I was, we had very successful training events, and I organised sessions at a conference where we received a lot of praise from the wider party. Activate 2017 was always going to be a challenge to organise, but it looks like we’re going to pull it off. I suppose these achievements are why some people are asking me if I am running for re-election.

This time though, after good work done complete in the Events Office, I will be running for Chair of Young Liberals. I’m doing this because I believe that my priorities for Young Liberals will help make the organisation stronger and more effective. I think that with renewed efforts on engagement and expansion, we can really start to show the benefits of our party, and the benefits of our organisation. I want to begin to really focus on the policies that will help out young people; let’s fight for our own, first and foremost. I want to be able to work closely with Lib Dem HQ, making sure that we have the resources that we need to operate as a strong and capable campaigning force, a force that the party needs. We can also start to drive our external exposure upwards, by preparing a national youth campaign, and redoubling our efforts to get noticed in the press and online, with petitions, press releases, and an increased push on social media. I believe that these priorities, along with my two years experience working on the executive and within the party put me in a uniquely strong position to become the next Chair of this fantastic organisation.

As always, I’m here to answer any questions or queries you have about my campaign, or my ideas. I wish everyone else running in the election the best of luck!

– Nate

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Why I do not support a ‘Progressive Alliance’

The Green Party has been banding around the idea of a ‘Progressive Alliance’ against the Conservative Party for some time now. It’s become something that, in a select number of seats, is a viable way of flipping Conservative majorities, and taking the Westminster seat from them.

In Twickenham and Richmond Park, the Green Party have stood aside for the Liberal Democrats. In Brighton Pavilion, the Liberal Democrats have stood aside for the Green MP, Caroline Lucas. Many Green Party members suggest the only reason the Liberal Democrats even hold Richmond Park constituency, is because of their standing aside there at the by-election, triggered when Zac Goldsmith resigned from the Conservatives. He’s back now though, and fighting for the seat in the 2017 GE.

It’s a nice idea, this ‘Progressive Alliance’, one that I might be able to get behind if it weren’t for a few big blockers for me. I’ll try to explain why.

  1. Liberal Democrats, Labour, and the Green Party, all have vastly different ideas of what it means to be a positive force in UK politics, and have vastly different policies. I cannot in good faith cast my vote for a Labour PPC if they agree with how Article 50 was triggered, or if they would vote to renationalise the railways. As a Liberal, these are impossible for me to vote for. I couldn’t vote for a Green PPC, if they seriously believed that removing trident money from the defence budget, and putting it into the NHS is a good idea; I cannot vote for them because of their party’s stance on nuclear energy either. They’re ambivalent about economic growth, which in my view is absolutely crazy. This is not a fantastic start to how a ‘Progressive Alliance’ would work now, is it? This isn’t a possible shared platform.
  2. Aside from views, the Green Party and the Labour party ran really tribal, personal campaigns against some of the Liberal Democrats’ representatives in 2015. Bristol West and Cambridge are the two that come to mind first. How are we as a party meant to put this behind us, a mere two years later, when the mudslinging and petty lines are still coming from activists and leadership figures of all parties. For an alliance agreement to work, we need to work together. This has been shown in the recent past, to be impossible. I cannot in good faith forget these campaigns against Stephen Williams, Julian Huppert, Lynne Featherstone and Simon Hughes easily either. These parties deserve to be targeted by us, not to be worked with.
  3. Restricting the democratic choice of the people in a General Election really really irks me. In Brighton Pavilion, a constituency I could well have lived in, come the 2017 election (Thankfully my new home is in Hove, where I can vote Liberal Democrat) the local Liberal Democrats stood their candidate down for Caroline Lucas. Love her or hate her, that’s not the point. I am a Liberal Democrat, and I want to vote for the party. Restricting the choice of other people is not right, we should be standing a candidate in every british constituency, regardless of chances or opposition. “Anybody but Tory” rhetoric is really damaging to our political discourse, and it’s really insulting to voters. Not all of the parties have the same policies and philosophy, and we shouldn’t be pretending that voters should only vote for the candidate/party/cause that they believe in. Who are the political parties to prevent this. A General Election is not just a vote for or against the Conservative Party, no matter how many times Caroline Lucas and Jon Bartley spew it out of their mouths on the campaign trail.
  4. Standing aside in seats may reduce our national average. This is a lesser point, but as someone who is an avid supporter of STV, an inflated vote share will further the cause for a proportional system of electing our MPs. Reducing this national average is not only damaging to our image after polling day, but it could sabotage how we spin it after the election is held.

I understand that there are supporters of a progressive alliance in all three of the Lib Dems, Labour, and Greens. But to me, it’s a farfetched idea, and it’s completely playing into this ‘coalition of chaos’ nonsense that is being vomited by the Tory party. It’s damaging, it’s patronising, and it’s undemocratic. So let’s just vote for what we believe in, shall we?

Westminster is near deadlock… again

Our entrenched two-party system breeds nothing but an arrogant political climate, where the Labour Party and the Conservative Party argue that they are the only choices to vote for, when a General Election comes around. It’s bred a culture where the main parties can shuffle around the political spectrum, and advocate for nothing but minor reforms and shiny, misleading, oversimplified promises meant to keep the other party in opposition.

Our entrenched two-party system breeds nothing but an arrogant political climate, where the Labour Party and the Conservative Party argue that they are the only choices to vote for, when a General Election comes around. It’s bred a culture where the main parties can shuffle around the political spectrum, and advocate for nothing but minor reforms and shiny, misleading, oversimplified promises meant to keep the other party in opposition. It’s easy to see really, especially now, that these two main parties are nothing but fanfare and boring slogans. This can also be said of the other more minor parties, but I shall focus on the main ones for simplicity.

The General Election called by Theresa May will take place on the 8th of June this year, and is a key chance for the Conservative Party to increase its majority in the House of Commons, and solidify their dominance in the British political sphere. I won’t lie to you, I very much hope that the Prime Minister does not succeed in strengthening her majority, as I feel that the United Kingdom is being led down a very dark and dangerous route. But this is not new, it has been occurring for quite some time.

If these parties actually advocated for something new and bold, perhaps even tried to change something for the better, our country would be a much happier, healthier, brighter and better place. For example, according to PISA scores we are the 5th largest economy by nominal GDP in the world, yet we’re 15th in global science education rankings, we’re 27th in global mathematics education rankings, and 22nd in reading standards. We have over 4 million (yes 4,000,000+) children living in poverty, and our standards of care and health are slipping. We have an armed forces that could lose our country to a (thankfully theoretical) Russian invasion ‘in an afternoon’. Our roads and rail infrastructure is ancient and crumbling. The air we breathe is polluted with dangerous chemicals, poisonous gasses, and carbons that thicken our atmosphere. Clearly there is something wrong here? Haven’t the political parties had the time to figure out what works and what doesn’t when it comes to something as important as education?

Why is it, that while we’re seeing all of the alarm bells of all of these problems are going off in the heads of policymakers around the country, Theresa May’s election campaign is nothing but a dull, cheap, and totally false claim of ‘strong and stable leadership’? Does she not understand the need for a strong armed forces? Does she not understand the importance of educating our children? I suppose it is possible to claim that there are policies in both the Conservatives’ and Labour manifestos on these issues, but what are they really going to do? Grammar schools certainly wont push us back up to the top of education rankings, because the vast majority of schoolchildren will never benefit from them. Building a couple of extra aircraft carriers that won’t have planes on them for a while to come won’t protect our country. There are simply no answers to any of the big questions in politics. We need a Beveridge-style political revolution that gives us a radical new angle at all of the problems facing the United Kingdom today, with a wave of contemporary ideas to boost Britain’s morale and better its people. We need proportional representation so that parties with these new ideas can come forwards if the biggest two don’t do enough. We need to invigorate the young to be politically active, and to make a difference and contribute to keep their interests at heart.

Without change, our country will die. Without change, we’ll become just another step closer to being an insignificant shadow with nothing to offer, and nobody should want that for their country. I know I certainly don’t.