On the advent of the 2015 general election, it was thought that May 7th was going to be a watershed moment, or even sound the death-knell for two party politics. The previous six months were abuzz with speculation, ranging from various mish mashes of coalitions to absolute madness like the grand Labour-Conservative pact. It was a time where anything could happen; the man on the street’s guess was as good as that of seasoned political experts. How disappointing then, despite all the excitement, a Conservative majority was returned and the two party system went on to survive another general election.
The atmosphere following the election was one of confoundment and defeat. From UKIP to Labour, all parties bar the Conservatives suffered a devastating defeat despite their best efforts. Yet no one was dealt a crueller blow that night than the Liberal Democrats. I very much thought there and then they were gone, that no party could ever be reduced by so much and recover. This was until I heard the resignation speech of Nick Clegg.
Throughout my years, this was the first time I felt like a politician was speaking to me like a cognizant adult. It was a rare moment of candidness from the political class, which I thought had long since abandoned earnestness and sincerity in lieu of crass rhetoric and, as he put it, the politics of grievance. As he left the podium, I was left with a renewed sense of hope for the Liberal Democrats. From this, despite the devastating loss of seats, thousands of those invigorated by this renewed flare poured into the party. It was this indomitable spirit that finally quelled my political agonising and convinced me to join the Liberal Democrats.
Following this, I started getting involved with the university’s Liberal Democrat society. Attending a few meetings, it’s clearly a small but active outfit which is incredibly proactive in campus life. Most importantly, despite its size it never felt cliquey and new members are very much welcomed and included in their discussions. Additionally, despite an obvious disparity between my knowledge as a new member and theirs’ of many years, you’re never made to feel ignorant for not knowing something. In fact, the members were more than willing to explain intricacies of party matters one would not necessarily be privy to if you weren’t already involved, and this is done so without being condescending. Furthermore, they run a liberal reading group every Wednesday wherein they discuss liberal theory, which is particularly valuable to new members like myself, especially as a non-politics student, as it allows you to understand the underlying principle of not just the party, but society as a whole.
All in all, I have greatly enjoyed joining the Liberal Democrats as the Liberal Youth now form the largest voting bloc within the party, I know that my voice, and those of many other thousands new members, will be heard as the party fights back onto the political stage.
Gabriel Bramley is an Ordinary Member of the University of York Liberal Democrats.