Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Being a Liberal in a Labour Society

This is a blog post I've been meaning to write since October. I am a member of the University of Leicester's Labour Society much to the annoyance of the neighbouring De Montfort University's Labour Society who see my presence at some jointly held events as somehow breaking the rules. While I don't mention my LibDem membership at events, most of the UoL society do know and don't seem to mind too much but I've decided to run through just why I joined because I get asked about it a lot and writing it down seemed a reasonable way of making it make sense!

At Fresher's Fair I joined both the Labour and Conservative societies (unfortunately there isn't a Liberal Youth) in the hope that it would lead to me making more politically involved friends and get me to some good events. As it turned out I never actually went to any Conservative society events but that was no big loss, I wanted to get involved in local politics in Leicester and in Leicester politics is either Labour or bust - when 52/54 councillors, all 3 MPs and the elected mayor all belong to the same party you really don't have much of a choice!

Two guys I lived next door to last year (and who I'm subsequently living with next year) are Labour members so I went along to the first meeting with them. The meeting was very interesting and I could see this society would give me the debate and political contact I had been looking for but during the course of the hour three or four different people offered me a Labour party membership form. I was willing to join the society but am in no way inclined to leave the Liberal Democrats so I managed to avoid filling one in and left the meeting with no intention of going back. On the way out I got chatting to the Campaigns Sabb officier who persuaded me to registered as a candidate for our Union Parliament along with the guys I attended the meeting with. When we went to the meeting about those elections the next day the chair of the Labour Society was there and came over to discuss the possibility of running together under a Labour banner. I told him that I hadn't actually joined the society along with my reason why but he assured me it was fine and I was welcome to run supporting them anyway which I did and we got elected.

Unfortunately (and this seems to be a weakness of Liberal Democrats everywhere in the last 18 months) I didn't make my membership-but-not-quite of Labour clear to the Union Parliament who now all assume I'm one of them. I also never properly explained this to the DMU society - mainly because I didn't realise I had to - and I've been asked to not to make my LibDemness known the people at events. As if someone actually believed I would walk into a room with David Miliband no less (the event in question happened to be a Q&A with him) bedecked in yellow rosettes and reading aloud from the Liberal Democrat manifesto. I joined the society to make a bit of a difference locally and to meet new people; I know I'm not a full member so I don't go canvassing or fund raising, I didn't put myself forward to go to the National Labour Youth Conference (indeed I doubt the society would ask me to) and I don't see why a little bit of cross party working has caused such a fuss!

That said if anyone can help me set up a Liberal Youth at the University of Leicester or who knows anyone who can, drop me a line here or on Twitter @rebelrevell :D

1 comment:

  1. Hi. I have just seen this blog via Twitter. As a Lib Dem member as well, I have been interested in setting up a Liberal society on campus as well and it's nice to see someone else interested!

    Obviously the Lib Dems are unpopular nationally and with students at the moment but I'm sure there is still support on campus. A society needs a minimum of 30 members and a minimum of 3 committee, numbers we could surely make.

    Something to give some thought anyway in the New Year to complement the existing campaigning societies.