Friday, 26 April 2013

Miss Sarah Harding and Southport Guardian editorial

 As news filters through that Miss Sarah Harding, lately of this parish, is emerging as the front runner in the election to chair Liberal Youth my attention has been drawn to an editorial in the Southport Guardian that concludes:

So the Liberal Part both nationally and locally is acting wisely by paying attention to young politicians.  "The hope of the Liberal Party "says one writer, "is its youth" and with "youth at the prow, discretion at the helm" there is no sea in which the ship of Liberalism cannot weather; there is no port we cannot make.

Now a Young Liberal movement should play its role in the party helping at elections and Sarah has more than proved her worth both here in Southport at the last General Election and reprising the role to great effect at the Eastleigh By Election. But a Liberal Youth movement has to do more than that, it has to do with ideas. Sarah would do well to heed the advice of one of the greatest Liberals of the 20th Century, John Maynard Keynes, who wrote in his Essays in Persuasion

Half the copybook wisdom of our statesmen is based upon assumptions which were at one time true, or partly true, but are now less and less true day by day. We have to invent new wisdom for a new age. And in the meantime we must, if we are to do any good, appear unorthodox, troublesome, dangerous, disobedient to them that begat us'.

Over the 107 years of their existence the Young Liberals have been central to maintaining a challenge to the comfortable orthodoxies that parties of all hues fall in to. This has manifested itself in the progressiveness of the Edwardian period, in ideas around peace and internationalism in the inter war times, the idea of  Ownership for All that  drove the movement and the party for 50 years, championing the ideas of Beveridge and Keynes, and in the post war period being the UK expression of the the new youth politics that found its expression in The Port Huron Statement in the US and all that flowed from it; campaigns for international justice in South Africa, Nigeria and the Middle East and at home with the birth of community politics and the early recognition of Green politics.

Ideas should be at the heart of the YL's . It would be good to see a new Blackpool Essays or Scarborough Perspectives published. Radical Liberalism needs kick and the Youth  Movement should be among the folk delivering it.

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