This spring, Henry Jones will present his motion on Associate Citizenship of the European Union at Liberal Democrats Party Conference in York, 17-19 March. As a member of Young Liberals Policy Committee, Henry is standing up “for millions of people across the UK who value their EU citizenship” and wish to express their individual choice to Remain.
I caught up with Henry earlier today to find out more about getting a policy motion on the Lib Dem agenda:
So, Henry, where did the idea for your policy motion first come from?
“I saw the news about Verhofstadt's proposal for associate EU citizenship, and my immediate reaction was "Brexit is cancelled". OK, it wasn't quite that dramatic, but I was very excited at the prospect and I thought the Lib Dems should push hard on this.”
Why is this issue important to you?
“7 years ago, I went on a school trip to Berlin and I left a book behind. I want to go to Berlin to get my book back. That's why I need my EU citizenship.
Also, my EU citizenship gives me access to an entire beautiful continent, gives me working opportunities I'd never have otherwise, and lets me influence the future of globalisation through EU Parliament elections.
But mostly it's about getting my book back.”
How does it feel to have your motion debated at Federal Party Conference?
“It's awesome. When I was 17, I spent a large part of my gap year trying, unsuccessfully, to get a motion to Lib Dem conference. The point is, I didn’t give up and it's very satisfying to have achieved it now.”
How did you develop the motion?
“This particular motion was easy to develop, because it's short and simple. I researched and wrote it in about an hour. I then asked others for their feedback and adjusted it slightly based on that.”
Will you be doing anything in particular to prepare ahead of your motion being debated at Spring Conference?
“I've ordered an anti-Trump "pussy hat", which I intend to wear for the speech. I'm also researching and writing the speech right now.”
What would be your advice to other Young Liberals who are thinking of getting involved in policy making?
“In terms of submitting motions to federal conference, make sure you:
- Read the information on how to write a motion on the Lib Dem website. Then make sure to submit your motion for drafting advice beforehand (the website explains how to do this).
- Pick a topical issue that will be relevant during the upcoming conference.
- Keep the motion short, simple and specific.
But submitting motions to federal conference is only one of many ways to get involved in making policy. You can also:
- Help to make Young Liberals policy (which may later also become party policy). To do this, you can submit motions to Young Liberals Conferences, where they'll almost certainly be accepted for debate. Or you can just come to the next Young Liberals Conference in Manchester this summer and sign up to speak in a debate.
- Go to Federal Conference, take part in consultative sessions (anyone can take part in these), sign up to speak in debates there, submit questions to policymakers, and so on.
- Apply to become part of a working group, where you can give your views on policy directly to Lib Dem policy writers.
- And much more. Fortunately, Lib Dem members have a lot of real power to influence policy (annoying though this may be for the leadership at times!) You can find out more here: http://www.libdems.org.uk/making_policy
If you have a policy idea, please feel free to contact me (email@example.com), any other member of the Young Liberals Policy Committee, or our Policy Officer: firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll be more than happy to help.”
Register for Spring Conference at: www.libdems.org.uk/spring-conference