Liberal Youth

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Liberal Youth
Chairperson Charlie Kingsbury & Michael Chappell
Treasurer Henry Foulds
Founded 1993 (as LDYS)
Headquarters 8–10 Great George Street,
London SW1P 3AE
Membership Increase 7,300
Ideology Liberalism (British)
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)

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[edit]

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[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]

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, 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 - Liberal Youth England, Liberal Youth Scotland and IR Cymru.[7]

The current executive is as follows:[8]

Position Holder
Chair (Job Share) Charlie Kingsbury
Michael Chappell
Chair of Liberal Youth England Sophie Thornton
President of Liberal Youth Scotland Joanne Ferguson
Chair of IR Cymru Sara Lloyd Williams
Vice Chair Alex White
Treasurer Henry Foulds
Campaigns Officers Vacant
Communications Officer Bambi St Jay
Events Officers (job share) Tara Murray
Nathan Isaacson
International Officer Ab Brightman
Policy Officer Emily Tester
Membership Development Officer Nomi Farhi
Welfare & Access Officer (Job Share) Ems Simpson
Charley Hasted
Non-Portfolio Officer Callum Delhoy


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.[9] 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.

International links[edit]

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'.[10] In addition, Liberal Youth run events for their members, from conferences and training weekends, like Activate.[11]

List of Chairs[edit]

  • Charlie Kingsbury & Michael Chappell (2015 – Present)
  • Alex Harding (2014 – 2015)
  • Sarah Harding (2013 – 2014)
  • Sam Fisk & Kavya Kaushik (2013)
  • Tom Wood (2011-2013)
  • Martin Shapland (2010–2011)
  • Alan Belmore (2010)
  • Elaine Bagshaw (2008–2010)
  • Mark Gettleson[12] (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[edit]


  • 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)

Young Liberal Democrats

  • Michael Harskin (1990–1991)
  • Peter Ladanyi (1991)
  • 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)

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 7 November 2011. 
  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. ^ "National Executive". Liberal Youth. Retrieved 14 December 2012. 
  9. ^ Archived 30 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ "Coverage of Hompohobia is Gay campaign". Pink News. 29 September 2006. Retrieved 23 January 2011. 
  11. ^ "Liberal Youth Activate June 2012". Liberal Youth. June 2012. 
  12. ^ "Humble host". The Independent. 27 March 2008. 

External links[edit]