What can Liberal Democrat Youth and Students tell us
about the future of their party?

As reported
recently, the Conservatives have made swift gains in the student vote under
Cameron at the expense of the Lib Dems, but the latter still retain a
substantial dominance amongst students. There is a substantial difference
however, between students inclined to protest-vote Lib Dem because of top-up
fees and Iraq,
and those willing to be affiliated to the party and be active within it – the
soup-strainers still outnumber the trainers, if you will. There is also the
factor of harder left wing parties such as Respect which has blitzed campuses
this year, siphoning off the more immoderate activists.

To some
extent LDYS reflects the ideological split in the party. There are still
members who would be happy under Old Labour or seem themselves more in the
Social Democrat tradition, but several of their leading lights are clearly in
the Orange book ‘tradition’, more economically ‘blue’ than ‘red’. They
resent being categorised as left or right, but rather see themselves as the inheritors
liberal tradition – supporting localism, libertarianism and liberal social
policies. Indeed, there is a surprising amount of overlapping with Conservative
Future on domestic ideology and economic policy.

Add to this the fact that the younger MP’s are
generally more libertarian and economically liberal than their elder counterparts,
and you get an idea of the likely future direction of the party.

With regards to the leadership contest, the
general feeling on the active LDYS forum
is in support of Ming.

Deputy Editor

Update: CF National Chairman responds to concerns in the comments section