Monday, 30 April 2012

The Value of Nothing

I have intermittent appointments with a counsellor at my University's healthcare centre. I'm not going to go into why or what my counsellor and I talk about because frankly that's none of your business. And also because that's not the point of this post. 

Today I realised something. Nothing dramatic, nothing profound, just something. 

Silence is fantastic. 

And rare.

Ask anyone who knows me and they'll tell you that I talk too much; I don't stop for lectures or movies, I talk to myself if there's no-one around and I have even been known to talk in my sleep. My best friend at school was the silent one, it has been said on more than one occasion that could be because she couldn't get a word in edgeways, but I always had an opinion or a thought about whatever was being discussed. But at these appointments I just don't. Before today there have always been moments of silence, periods where I didn't know what to say or didn't want to say anything and the shrink wouldn't push it because he wanted to see what I had to say for myself, not just what I thought he wanted to hear in response to my questions (I guess that's the idea anyway). Today though I spoke for maybe ten minutes out of the hour. 

I normally hate silence and find it distracting, I need the TV on or the radio or people talking just to enable me to work. I told the shrink this, he asked what I used this silence to distract me from or was it different kind of silence and I realised that I enjoy sitting in silence for parts of an hour a week. 

The idea that silence is missing in the modern world isn't new, this isn't a dramatic revelation but it did make me think that maybe I need to spend more time listening and less time talking. 

Starting now.

Sunday, 29 April 2012


Just submitted my nomination for East Midlands Regional Chair for the Liberal Youth elections. There are several things I'd want to do in the job and it's these things that motivated me to run.

1. My local party isn't fantastic, Leicester has had a lot of problems with internal factions over the last decade and has gone from successful to having only one councillor (even he is a defector from the Conservatives), so I went looking for my regional chair for some advice when setting up a branch at University only to discover that The East Midlands hasn't had a chair for almost six months, the last one defected to the Green Party. I really hope to be able to stand up as someone people can come to if they have issues or need help and support with something

2. I myself wasn't a member of Liberal Youth before I turned 18, simply because I didn't know you could be. I was out campaigning for my local Lib Dem PPC for months before officially becoming a member because at no point did anyone tell me Liberal Youth existed. I think it's vital that we reach out to our younger members and especially make sure that local parties encourage young people to join and participate.

3. A related point is that we need to make sure we represent all young people, not just students. We're not Labour Students, we're Liberal Youth, and we need to make sure our focus isn't just on those in further and higher education. We need to reach out and include graduates, young workers, interns and the youth unemployed.

The manifesto doesn't allow me to go into the detail I'd like and there are almost certainly other issues that I am passionate about but if you have any questions feel free to tweet me @RebelRevell or comment on here and feel free to like my Facebook page which will be updated periodically :)

Interviewing Tim Farron

Spring Conference seems like such a long time ago now all those weeks ago I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to interview Party President Tim Farron. Here is my report of the interview which was originally posted at the Libertine, there you can also find the other three bloggers' interviews :)


When I saw that Liberal Youth wanted bloggers to interview Tim Farron I was more than a little bit up for it, I got an ‘opportunity’ to interview David Miliband through my university magazine and he turned up quite late so in the end I didn’t get to ask a question at all. I love following Tim on Twitter and it’s fantastic that he takes the time to respond to people on an individual basis so I was definitely interested. ‘Blogger’ isn’t maybe the word for me though, my blog is a site a shout at once a month when some issue has gotten me angry then I forget about it for another three weeks. Luckily I was asked if I’d do it anyway so I couldn’t really say no!

Four folks all asking questions when you only have half an hour – Tim’s a busy guy at the best of times, never mind at Spring Conference with the country’s media watching – doesn’t give you a lot of time to ask your questions but I got to asked two; one that had political significance and related to an article Tim had written in previous day in the Guardian and one that was more about Tim as a person.

Tim’s article said that the Liberal Democrats need to stop apologising so following on from that I asked on where Lib Dems should be looking forward or back, I can safety say that Tim’s answer was the fully expected ‘bit of both’. "This is an opportunity to do things, and to change things in a very positive sense…I look at our flag ship policy [raising the income tax threshold] that I’m pretty sure going to get delivered and quicker…My great fear in all of this is that even that news gets swamped."

I think Tim taps into the feeling that a lot of people in the party have is that whilst we are in government doing brilliant things for people it gets overshadowed by some of the not so popular things that the government does or things that are beyond government control, Liberal Democrats seem to get the blame but not the credit.

We have to be mindful that Labour have a narrative to try and pitch us as being weak and keeling over in front of the Tories which isn’t true. And this is something I’ve encountered on several occasions, people are quick to criticise us for being the Tories’ whipping boys but when you explain to them our policies in government, both what we’ve done so far and our plans for the future, they are quite often receptive to them.

My second question to Tim asked what his proudest achievement as Party President had been so far. I expected him to name a policy he supported but was quite surprised that his first choices were the new HQ and the appointment of a new Chief Executive. These are, in his own words, “geeky” choices but they are clearly things he is proud of and he went on to say the bit of the job he enjoys most is “just getting out there, and knocking on doors and lifting spirits”. He told a story of going out campaigning with councillors and MSPs who lost their jobs in 2011 but who are still hard at work campaigning for the Liberal Democrats and it was obvious how proud he is of the grassroots campaigners who made the party what it is and who, by and large, are very supportive of him.

One of the great things about Tim as a Party President is that he is so approachable and willing to take time out of his undoubtedly busy schedule to talk to four Liberal Youth bloggers around a cramped table under the stairs at the back of a conference centre. We can only hope he remains as approachable and eager to reach out to all wings of the party in the future.