Young Liberals (United Kingdom)

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Young Liberals
Chairperson Charlie Kingsbury
Founded 1993 (as LDYS)
Headquarters 8–10 Great George Street,
London SW1P 3AE
Membership Increase 7,300[citation needed]
Ideology Liberalism (British)
Classical Liberalism
Social liberalism[1]
Social justice[2]
Mother party Liberal Democrats
International affiliation International Federation of Liberal and Radical Youth (IFLRY)
European affiliation European Liberal Youth (LYMEC)

Young Liberals is the youth and student group of the Liberal Democrats, a political party in the United Kingdom. Its predecessors include the National League of Young Liberals (NLYL), founded in 1903 and the Union of Liberal Students (ULS), founded in 1920. The organisation was previously called Liberal Youth but went through a process of renaming at the end of 2016.[citation needed]

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

The current Chair of Young Liberals is Charlie Kingsbury who was re-elected as Chair in October 2016. Kingsbury previously served with Michael Chappell when they were jointly elected in 2015.

Liberal Democrats and Young Liberals[edit]

The constitution of the Liberal Democrats requires an affiliated youth and student wing. Accordingly, Young Liberals is a Specified Associated Organisation (SAO) to the party. The Liberal Democrat Party constitution grants Young Liberals at least one position on local party executives as well as one position on federal committees such as the Federal Board and Federal International Relations Committee. 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[edit]

Liberal Democrat mergers[edit]

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 then 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 the National League of Young Liberals, the parties' youth wings of the 1960s and 1970s.

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 Scotland. 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 2002 and then admitted Scottish Young Liberal Democrats as its Scottish federal unit later that year - forming a single GB-wide organisation for the first time since the combined ULS-NLYL committees of the 1970s.

Federal organisation[edit]

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 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, Treasurer, International Officer, Policy Officer, Membership Development Officer, Welfare and Access Officer and Non Portfolio Officer,[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 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.[7]


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.[8] 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 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.

International links[edit]

Liberal Youth is a member of two international youth organisations:

See also[edit]


  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 25 December 2016. 
  5. ^ "Nick Clegg launches Liberal Youth" (Press release). Liberal Democrat Voice. 25 March 2008. Retrieved 29 January 2013. 
  6. ^ "Liberal Youth People". Retrieved 12 April 2016. 
  7. ^ "The Federal Constitution – Liberal Youth" (pdf). Retrieved 7 November 2011. 
  8. ^ Archived 30 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]