Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Fresh Start 4 You(th)

Last week I took over from Laura Willoughby as chair of the Youth Policy Working Group. Laura has been fantastic, and I feel a bit of an impostor, coming in at the 11th hour to take the work of the group forward, it is a bit like putting the roof on the house and then being able to take credit for the whole house! So big thanks to Laura for everything she has already done, and I hope I will finish the work in a way that she will be proud of.

We had a consultation at Harrogate, but we have also been keen to involve a wider audience than just party activists. As a result we have launched a Facebook site, where anyone can have their say - A Fresh Start 4 You(th). This site will also be advertised in next week's Children and Young People Now so that we get some input from those who work with young people as well as the young people themselves.

One of the highlights of conference for me was the launch of the Coalition for Young People's manifesto (which Simon Hughes drew attention to in the Fresh Start debate). What was particularly gratifying was that so much of what they were calling for was already part of our thinking. Everyone there was delighted to hear from Lembit Opik and Simon Hughes about their personal commitment to support the campaign and I was happy to report that both David Howarth and David Heath had publicly supported the raising of the age of criminal responsibility to 14 (see powerful argument for why we should by Richard Garside here).

We have a lot of Fresh ideas from young people, those who work with them and Lib Dem activists - some will be easy and cost effective to implement, others will need a financial commitment. My argument is, and will always be, we invest to save! If that fails I will have to drop my objection to the idea of talking about "aspirations", after all, we can surely all aspire to all sorts of things now I guess?

So this is your last chance to put in your ten penneth - we need your response asap and at least before the end of October. Even if you have nothing to say, please pass on to those you think may have something to say, particularly young people.

Nick Clegg made it clear in his speech yesterday that the future of our children and young people will remain one of our most important priorities - let's ensure that we take this opportunity to ensure our youth policies have the potential to undo 30 years of Tory and Labour neglect and cynicism.

I look forward to hearing from you!

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