Making an impact: Vice Chair Calum Paterson reflects on last year at SYL

Calum Paterson, Current Vice Chair and former Co-Chair of the Scottish Young Liberals, reviews last year's successes and looks to the year ahead.


It’s certainly been an eventful year for the Scottish Young Liberals, and I am immensely proud of everything we have achieved as a team since last August. Starting with the election of myself and Christopher Wilson as Co-Chairs of SYL, along with a brand new executive committee, the revival of the organisation was kicked into full swing.

The first major outing under the new executive was the March for Europe in Edinburgh, in which our co-chair, Christopher made a passionate speech in front of the gathered audience, cementing SYL’s unwavering commitment to the European Union. Things could only improve, with the organisation having a broad presence at the 2017 Scottish Lib Dem Autumn Conference in Dunfermline, in which three motions proposed by SYL members were debated, and ultimately approved by the membership. Most notably however, was SYL executive member Jess Insall’s motion on gender neutral school uniforms, which included a barnstorming speech that made headlines in several national news outlets, including the BBC and the Herald, and even received praise from the Scottish Government. Autumn Conference also saw the return of SYL fringe events, with Councillors Ben Lawrie and Kris Chapman leading a discussion on the experience of being young elected representatives in Scotland.

SYL only continued to grow as 2018 arrived, with yet more policy being proposed and passed at the 2018 Spring Conference in Aviemore, including a radical motion on allowing 16-17 year olds to stand for election to councils and the Scottish Parliament. Once again, Jess Insall spoke with diligence and fervour, this time on the issue of reforming Abortion Law in Scotland.

Scottish Parliament (Pixabay CC0 license)

The SYL Executive also sought to make changes to the organisation’s structure at its AGM during 2018's Spring Conference, which was achieved with a unanimous vote in favour of a complete constitutional overhaul. This included big changes to the executive roles to encourage the use of specific portfolios, reflecting the structure in the Federal Young Liberal executive, and therefore helping to streamline workflow within the executive and the organisation as a whole. SYL also hosted a pub quiz at Autumn Conference which was great fun for young and young-at-heart party members alike. 

Moving on into the middle of the year, executive elections were held to fill the new roles as outlined in the new constitution. The results of these elections were greatly encouraging as turnout increased by a whopping five times since the August 2017 elections. We also welcomed newcomers to the SYL executive, namely Becca Plenderleith as Chair, Matthew Greenwood as Treasurer, Richard Wood as Communications Officer and Jack Clark as Non-Portfolio Officer. Returning members to the executive include Ross Stalker as Campaigns Officer, Jess Insall as Policy Officer and myself as Vice Chair.

Now that we have a dynamic and forward-thinking executive ready for action in 2018 and beyond, the growth of the organisation can only continue, starting with our new campaigns for Freshers' week next month, which include LGBTQ+ inclusive sex education and more.

I have every confidence that we, the Scottish Young Liberals, will continue to make progress and a significant impact on Scottish politics.

Image: Pixabay (CC0/free to use without attribution)

While you're here...if you have yet to book your place at this year's Scottish Lib Dem Autumn conference, you can do so here. The event takes place in Dunfermline on 8th September.

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