Liberal Youth Spring Conference & Elections

This years Liberal Youth Spring Conference was held in Leeds and it was great to see LY members from across the UK in the region. For those of you who made it I hope you had a really good time and were encouraged to get involved with Liberal Youth. The next national Liberal Youth event will be ‘Activate’ – a training weekend held in the summer.

Due to Conor officially being elected England Convenor for Liberal Youth England at the conference by-elections, Lance will be taking over as regional chair for Yorkshire and Humber for the remainder of this term.

Speaking of elections, nominations for Liberal Youth elections 2012 is now open. If you would like to run for a position on the exec, regional council or one of the committees see the national website for more info: http://www.liberalyouth.org/the-executive/elections2012/

On another note, looking at this website, I realise the news section hasn’t been updated for a while, apologies for this but please do like the facebook page which gets updated on much more a regular basis: https://www.facebook.com/LiberalYouthNorthEast

New Regional Chair for Yorkshire and the Humber

Due to a change in the constitution at this years Liberal Youth Autumn Conference, the boundaries of Liberal Youth regions have been altered in line with the Federal Party. This region has therefore been split into two – separating Yorkshire and the Humber from the North East, and a new Regional Chair has been co-opted to accommodate these changes.

The new Regional Chair for Yorkshire and the Humber is Conor Mckenzie and he will hold office in this position for the remainder of the term until Spring. Hannah Claytor remains Regional Chair for the North East and will continue to work with Conor to ensure Liberal Youth continues to develop and improve throughout both regions.

As always, if you need anything, don’t hesitate to get in touch 🙂

Yorkshire & Humber Autumn Conference (Skipton)

Part 1: Reports to Conference from Nick Clegg, Diana Wallis, Lord David Shutt & David Ward.

The Yorkshire and the Humber Regional Autumn conference was held on 5th November 2011. The heavy losses in May’s council elections were still in the consciousness of speakers and members but there was an optimistic feeling that the Liberal Democrats were on the rise again.

Delegates were welcomed to the conference by the regional President, Lord Phil Willis who introduced the party leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg (MP for Sheffield Hallam).

Nick Clegg opened the conference with a speech championing the work that the Liberal Democrats have done both in the region and nationally and condemned Labour’s record, in particular on Manufacturing. He told the conference that ‘there is nothing progressive about debt’ and that cuts were the right thing to do and praised how the Liberal Democrats were working with the Conservatives in government, stating that if the party hadn’t decided to go into the Coalition, Britain would have found itself in a situation similar to Greece.

There was a variety of questions posited at Clegg but the one that stood out was his response on the unions and the upcoming strike. He criticised their scaremongering and the false information they have distributed to union members. Clegg spoke of the surgery he held the day before: where he had teachers screaming at him about information presented to them by unions on pension reforms, only for them to calm down after he explained the reforms properly.

Following Nick Clegg’s talk Diana Wallis MEP, Lord David Shutt of Greetland (Deputy Government Chief Whip in the House of Lords) and David Ward (MP for Bradford East) gave their Parliamentary reports to the conference.

Diana Wallis in her role as Vice-President has continued her work improving the transparency of the European Parliament. She finished negotiations on a Brussels Transparency Register with the Commission. She was an influential member in the group for setting up a Code of Conduct for MEPs, and establish firmer rules on their financial declarations. This should come into effect after January 2012. She is also working on a reform of Question Time to Commissioners, making the question and answer sessions more spontaneous and more accessible for spectators. In light of all of this Diana has improved her transparency and will keep a regular log of her meetings on her website.

Working on the Legal Affairs Committee Diana worked on the European Parliament’s report updating EU consumer rights legislation, finalised in June. Many of elements of Diana’s report made it into the final agreement. Member States will have until September 2013 to adapt their legislation to the new rules. Her report on European contract law won a large majority in Parliament. Diana is also jointly responsible for a report on the European Sales Law which would give small businesses the option to choose an EU-wide sales law to apply to their contracts; this law would mean that translation and legal costs would be reduced when making cross-border sales. Her report on alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in Europe was voted by Parliament in October and encouraged the use of ADR for civil disputes in complicated cross-border cases. Diana is also responsible for the report on reforming the working of the European Court of Justice. The main proposal: increase the number of judges of the lower court to deal with backlogs of cases and introducing means to allow judges to work with greater efficiency. An agreement should be expected in early 2012.

Diana is part of the Petitions Committee and continues to support citizens facing problems with property laws in Spain and Cyprus. She has also worked on championing the European emergency number (112) which most UK based travel companies now give to British customers, making them aware of the universal service and helping keeping them safe during their trips throughout the EU.

Lord David Shutt’s report was relatively short, commenting on work the Lords have done reducing the Localisms Bill.

David Ward reported on Liberal Democrat activity in the Commons. There are difficult issues Liberal Democrats are facing on welfare reform; they are going to introduce energy standards in the private sector. He criticised the recent vote for a referendum on the EU as a ‘massive distraction’ and reported that in the Postal Services bill there will be no program for closure for Post Offices. Finally he concluded that the Coalition was a good thing as there has been much more open debate in the House of Commons.

By Louis Gill, Leeds Liberal Youth President

Federal Conference 2011

It’s that time of year again and this years Autumn Federal Conference is being held in Birmingham. Liberal Youth has tonnes planned so take a look here and feel free to drop by and get involved 🙂 http://www.liberalyouth.org/events/birmingham2011/

Newsletter Mailing List

Last weekend I sent out the first newsletter for members in the region. If you attend university in the North East or Yorkshire but live elsewhere you may not be on the mailing list. If you would like to rectify this send me an e-mail and I will add you.

If you would like to change your details to make your local party your university city, contact the LibDem membership office, but do still send me an e-mail as they are unlikely to notify me of this. Please note, it is possible for you to change your local party to your university city whilst still receiving correspondence to your home address.

Click here to see the first newsletter in case you missed it!

North East Regional Conference (Gateshead)

The regional conference held on 11th June 2011 was a great chance to catch up with party members following the local elections in May. Sadly these did not go so well for us here in the North East with the loss of control of Newcastle City council being one notable example of this. However, we did not face a total wipe out in all the region, in Redcar we net gained one council seat, and increased the majority of a number of councillors, in one case by over 400 votes, achieving the largest majority of a Councillor in the borough.

The first part of the morning consisted of a debate on the new constitution for the region. The draft constitution was presented before conference, after debate on some minor technicalities and procedural points, and the constitution was adopted by the conference.

The second part of the morning featured two talks by Ian Swales MP and Baroness Sal Brinton. The Redcar MP Swales spoke of the local election performance in Redcar and the Lib Dem work going on in government, and how it is not necessarily a weakness to us but can be a strength if the message and media management is done properly, adding that this is a responsibility for local parties and not just to be left to Cowley Street.  Baroness Brinton spoke along similar lines emphasising what the Lib Dems were doing in government and how local parties need to organise themselves in order to be successful.

The third part of the morning featured a talk by Billi Williams and Baroness Britton on ways for local parties to engage their membership both politically and socially through events in order to retain them through a long period of relative inactivity compared to the hectic last two years. The speakers also spoke about increasing diversity among candidates, following the motion at Spring Federal conference. It has become a priority to increase the number of Women, LBGT, and candidates for ethnic minorities, and this is to be achieved by a special candidate training course for applicants from these groups.

After the break for lunch there were a number of motions presented to conference, however a number of points were raised about the quality of the motions and the way they were presented.

The first motion featured a debate on the future of nuclear energy, with Fiona Hall arguing against plans by the government to introduce in new generation of nuclear power stations, the motion was passed by conference, albeit amended.

There was also a motion on the new security measures at conference, and the impact on civil liberties it has. There were some interventions on the motion, and its apparent exaggeration; however the motion was passed by conference.

The conference was heralded by a number of people as ‘the best in years’ by some long time members owing to the lively discussion and debate, we hope that this carries on for next conference.

By Tom Wheatcroft, Newcastle University