Reports of the Chair and Treasurer of the 16th Committee

Following the Covid-19 Pandemic, the constitution was de facto suspended, and Annual General Meetings did not take place in 2020 or 2021. By 2021, on the recommendation of Vice-Chair emeritus Adam Belcher, the decision was made to publish reports for the Chair and Treasurer, to go some way to replace the oral reports and questions that would usually take place at a general meeting. These two reports follow in plain text. PDFs can be downloaded below each article.

Chair’s Report for the 2020-21 Term

Forgive me for opening with what is by now a tired cliche, but it has to be said that this has been a year the likes of which the society has not faced in a century, or maybe ever. The pandemic was well in swing when I took over as chair in May, much delayed from the usual timeframe of electing a new committee. This was due to the results of the first lockdown: the cancelling of our planned AGM, the de facto suspension of the constitution, and the time it took for the Guild to set up online elections.

Despite the lockdown, we managed to fill all seven of our committee positions. Following the results of this election, we swiftly and properly conducted a handover meeting with the previous committee. This was helped by the fact that three of us from the 2019-20 committee stayed on into 2020-21. Following this, we immediately began a schedule of weekly online events. This alternated between a more relaxed, less preparation intensive drinks event, and another event format that required more forethought. This initially was a successful scheme, and attracted decent attendance, particularly from a wide range of alumni as well as our ordinary members. This carried on until around the end of summer term, as attendance dropped off as restrictions eased, which meant that frankly people had a lot better things to be doing than hanging around and drinking on a zoom call.

The society then ticked over until it came to freshers week, and the start of the Autumn term. This brought into focus the main challenge facing the society for the year, being the struggle we would face in attracting new members, given the substantially reduced quality of our events. Nevertheless, we began a push on our comms and social media, culminating in our virtual freshers fair video, which was a lot of fun to put together. It was something I was proud of as a chair, and I think reflected the fact that we don’t take ourselves too seriously. At this point, we still believed that there might be the possibility that we would hold in-person events that term, but the rapid deterioration in the state of the pandemic meant that it quickly became apparent that this wouldn’t be the case. We held a relatively successful welcome event, followed by a full term’s worth of events. We maintained a healthy number (~16) of paid up members, however we were not always able to have the same people attend our events. The highlight of this term was a speaker event with Munira Wilson MP, our spokesperson for health and social care. We also began cross party events, with Debate Roulette being proposed and led by UoBC (and in which our contingent punched above our weight!). Crucially, we began to hold cross-society events with the Warwick University Liberal Democrats (on their initiative). This was one of the most fruitful collaborations of the year, allowing both of our societies to strengthen one another in tough times. These events were in my opinion some of the most enjoyable of the whole year. With them, we also held watch parties for the American election, the most significant political occasion of the year. In spite of this, motivation and energy was at an all-time low for me personally towards the Christmas break, however with the help of the committee we held events together until the break. We had an event or two after the Christmas, towards the end of the new restructured first term, to maintain interest during the deadline season. Up until this point, I had maintained some hope that we might be able to hold in person events over the course of the 16th committee. Obviously, it soon after became apparent that this would not be the case.

The second term has so far been much the same. It has been a bit less structured from the point of view of the committee. We didn’t release a term card, allowing us a lot of flexibility to change around event plans on the fly. One important failure this term was the lack of a key speaker event this term, caused by my failure of prior planning, and not getting communications made to get speakers in the pipeline in time. However, we have gotten speakers in line for early on in the next committee. Nevertheless, we still managed weekly events, with the exception of a very busy and trying YL conference week. It was during this period that we were reviewed as part of the YL wide branch review. We had more cross party events, including a mock PMQs, featuring excellent performances from our team of ‘spokespeople’. One aim for this term was a round of merch. The ball has begun rolling, with a poll of members, and some designs, however this has not progressed to completion in the way that I hoped, however I hope further progress will be made with the new committee. We began some campaigning events this term too, with a phonebanking session for Brecon and Radnorshire, and an attempted event for chair emerita Sophie Thornton in Sheffield, for whom I hope the next committee can do more. Towards the end of the committee, I made a new style guide for the society. I’d already done so during the first lockdown, but I wasn’t happy with the document itself, nor some of the finer points of the design itself. I hope that we can continue to have a strong visual identity off of the back of this. Following all of this, and the pausing of events for the Easter break, we went into another set of the Guild’s online elections. The results of these elections represents a significant cut back in the size of the committee, however I have confidence that we will be able to continue to hold the fort until in person events are allowed again, and we can hopefully get back into the swing of attracting new members.

I can give nothing but the highest praise for my fellow committee members. Throughout a ridiculously tough year that frankly none of us deserved, they have been an incredibly capable, dedicated and friendly group to work with, not to mention fun. They kept me on my toes even during the coldest and darkest days of the entire pandemic. Without their support and efforts, the society could not have run throughout the last year, and it’s through their collective effort that the society was able to show the resilience that we have (aided of course, from a well-established society pre-pandemic, and the work of our predecessors). Despite the circumstances, in some ways we have expanded the role of the society against all the odds, such as greater involvement with our local party and the aforementioned collaborations. I would further like to thank the support of the alumnus members of the 15th committee, who have provided much help and support throughout this time.

As well as the previous thanks, I would also finally like to thank every person who has come to one of our events over the past year. They weren’t the events you deserved either, but they were the events you came to nonetheless, and I’m very grateful to everyone who has continued to engage with the society throughout this time. Even with the best committee, the society wouldn’t exist without you, so thank you. Throughout this time, it’s been my absolute pleasure to be the chair of this fantastic society. This is not to say that it’s been easy, and truthfully, I’m completely gutted to not have been able to chair a single in-person event. I sincerely hope that no chair has to have a year like the one I’ve had. Through it all, I’ve made many mistakes, let many things slip, and there are many ways in which the society could have been led better throughout this year. However, I can say that under the circumstances, I have done my best for the society for which I care deeply, and to which I owe much.

Patrick Gilbert, March 31st, 2021

Treasurer’s Report for the 2020-21 Term, Accounts for the Year Ended 28th March 2021

These are headline figures. More detail is provided in the full report, which you can download below.

The two financial signatories to the society’s account this year were:

Rosie Burningham Treasurer
James Green Vice-Chair

Income
Membership fees £32.50
Other Income £0
Total Income £32.50

Expenditure
Expenses £0
Total Expenditure £0

Deficit / Surplus £32.50

Total Net Assets / (Liabilities) £342.39 £374.89

Total Reserves £374.89

Spirited Discussions – 23rd January 2020

The University of Birmingham Liberal Democrats held their first Spirited Discussions of 2020 on Thursday 23rd January at 6pm in Lecture Room 4 of the Arts Building.

The first motion was that “this House believes that Labour and the Liberal Democrats need to work together in the next election”. The debate was chaired by Hermione Peace, the Chair of the society. The initial votes were:
AYE: 5
NO: 1
ABSTAIN: 5
The opening speech in favour of the motion was given by Will Francis (LD). The opening speech in opposition was given by Billy Thompson (LD, Treasurer of UBLD). The order of speakers was then as follows:
Patrick Gilbert (LD, Secretary of UBLD)
Teddy Beeston (LAB)
Joe Norris (LD, UBLD Events Officer)
Will Francis (LD)
Billy Thompson (LD)
Ishbel Macpherson (LD, UBLD Campaigns Officer)
Patrick Gilbert (LD)
Adam Belcher (LD, Vice-Chair of UBLD)
Peter Tutykhin (IND/GRN)
Hermione Peace (LD, Chair of UBLD)
Patrick Gilbert (LD)
Billy Thompson (LD)
Teddy Beeston (LAB)
Will Francis (LD)
Adam Belcher (LD)
Peter Tutykhin (IND/GRN)
Billy Thompson (LD)
The closing speech in opposition was given by Billy Thompson (LD). The closing speech in favour was given by Will Francis (LD). The final votes were:
AYE: 4
NO: 2
ABSTAIN: 4
With a swing of one, the opposition side won.

The second motion was that “this House believes that positive discrimination has been a force for good”. The debate was chaired by Billy Thompson, the Treasurer of the society. The initial votes were:
AYE: 4
NO: 1
ABSTAIN: 5
The opening speech in favour was given by Ishbel Macpherson (LD, UBLD Campaigns Officer). The opening speech in opposition was given by Hermione Peace (LD, Chair of UBLD). The order of speakers was then as follows:
Kate Robertshaw (GRN)
Peter Tutykhin (IND/GRN)
Liv Seifert (LD)
Teddy Beeston (LAB)
Will Francis (LD)
Peter Tutykhin (IND/GRN)
Hermione Peace (LD)
Adam Belcher (LD, Vice-Chair of UBLD)
Patrick Gilbert (LD, Secretary of UBLD)
Teddy Beeston (LAB)
Peter Tutykhin (IND/GRN)
Ishbel Macpherson (LD)
The closing speech in opposition was given by Kate Robertshaw (GRN). The closing speech in favour was given by Liv Seifert (LD). The final votes were:
AYE: 4
NO: 2
ABSTAIN: 5
With a swing of one, the opposition side won.

Afterwards, a number of attendees went to the Bristol Pear for a couple of drinks.

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Billy and Adam chairing the second motion

Autumn Term 2019 – Summary

This post summarises UBLD’s events in the autumn term of 2019 which have not been covered in other posts.

The UBLD committee ran a stall at the Societies Fair on Friday 27th September, where we got an impressive 95 signups to the mailing list.

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Ishbel Macpherson (Campaigns) and Adam Belcher (Vice-Chair) man the Societies Fair stall

Following a small, informal Freshers welcome drinks at the Duck and Scholar on Sunday the 29th of September, the official Welcome Drinks was held at Joe’s Bar at Thursday the 3rd of October, where we were pleased to see a number of new members.

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Healthy turnout at Welcome Drinks

On Friday 11th October, we welcomed West Midlands MEP Phil Bennion to the university as our first guest speaker of the academic year. Phil talked at length about his work in the European Parliament. Afterwards, we joined two of our alumni, Jake Calcutt and Sam Boardman, and our old friend Tory Joe (who is no longer a Tory), at a bar in the city centre.

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L-R: Rosie Burningham, Adam Belcher, Pau Castellvi, Sophie Thornton, Benjamin Roughton, Hermione Peace, Joe Norris, Patrick Gilbert, Phil Bennion MEP, Will Francis, Billy Thompson, Tom Ricciardi

Hermione, Ishbel, Patrick, Liv and Tom attended the People’s Vote march in London on the 19th of October.

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At the People’s Vote march.

We attended both of UoBC’s Port and Policy events at Bournbrook & Selly Oak Social Club, on the 24th of October and the 29th of November.

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The Liberal contingent at Port and Policy on 24th October. L-R: Adam Belcher, Charles Michael, Hermione Peace, Billy Thompson, Joe Norris, Liv Seifert, Will Francis

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Something amuses the Liberal bench (possibly someone calling us socialists)

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Charles speaks at Port and Policy.

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Adam argues in favour of HS2.

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Will’s first speech at Port

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Hermione speaking at Port

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Liv’s first speech at Port

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The Liberal bench votes.

Other cross-party events we attended included a cross-party drinks at the Goose organised by BULS on the 25th of October, and the return of Mock PMQs on the 27th of November.

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Hermione Peace, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, asks a question to Prime Minister Michael Curzon and Leader of the Opposition Megan Cole

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Adam Belcher, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats, asks a question.

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Charles Michael asks a question.

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Patrick Gilbert asks a question.

Hermione, Adam, Joe and Patrick also attended Societies Night on the 20th of November as part of the Politics vs. Philosophy / Coalition of Chaos thing.

LiberTea was held on the 7th of November. At our film night on the 14th of November, we watched In The Loop and The Death of Stalin. We did a joint Spirited Discussions with the Devil’s Advocate Society on the 21st of November, followed by Liberal Drinks at our old home base, the Bristol Pear, on the 28th.

The society was of course also busy campaigning ahead of the general election. The society made a trip to Sheffield Hallam early in the term, and visited Cheltenham three times over the course of the election campaign. Unfortunately the party failed to win back either seat, nor any of the seats the society phone canvassed, so election night at Joe’s on the 12th of December was naturally a bitterly disappointing end to the term.

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Phone banking for Max Wilkinson, Luciana Berger and Sam Gyimah

To end on a more positive note, UBLD had its annual Christmas meal at the Pitcher and Piano in Brindleyplace on the 2nd of December, where we were joined by a few members of the Greens (which in a sense almost made it a joint Lib Dem – Green Christmas dinner), as well as EYL Chair Jack Worrall, who happened to be in the area, and alumni Alex Helliker. Afterwards, several of us went to a Wetherspoons on Broad Street, where we became quite drunk, before making the long walk back to Selly.

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Clockwise, starting bottom-left: Alex Helliker, Charlie Hobbs, Peter Tutykhin, Jack Worrall, Hermione Peace, Joe Norris, Will Francis, Ishbel Macpherson, Adam Belcher, Billy Thompson, George from Labour, Patrick Gilbert, Rosie Burningham

UBLD Charity Pub Quiz – 30th October 2019

UBLD held its fourth charity pub quiz at the Indie Lounge on the 30th of October from 7pm. As always, the quiz was hosted by the society’s Vice-Chair, Adam Belcher.

The rounds were:
1. General knowledge
2. Flags
3. Politics and Current Affairs (by former Chair Sophie Thornton)
4. General knowledge
5. Music

The final rankings are as follows:
1. Nightmare Before Quizmas (Kate Robertshaw, Megan Cole, Peter Tutykhin, Billy Thompson, Josh Groves) – 39
2. Massive Irretrievable Data Loss (Sam Boardman, Joe McColl, Meg Farrell) – 35
3. White Privilege (Alfie, Greg Allman, Alex, Liv Seifert, Ben Lockley) – 33
4. Quizzer Sisters (Charlie Hobbs, Dan, Alex) – 30.5
5. Lib Dem Surge (Charles Michael, Ishbel Macpherson, Joe Norris) – 28.5

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The Pub Quiz in full swing.

Spirited Discussions – 23rd October 2019

The University of Birmingham Liberal Democrats held their first Spirited Discussions of the 2019-20 academic year on Wednesday 23rd October at 6pm in Lecture Room 7 of the Arts Building.

The first motion was that “this House believes that the UK has a responsibility to intervene in Hong Kong.” The initial votes were:
AYE: 5
NO: 3
ABSTAIN: 6
The opening speech in favour was given by Charles Michael (LD, UBLD Communications Officer). The opening speech in opposition was given by Charlie Hobbs (LD). The order of speakers was then as follows:
Will Francis (LD)
Billy Thompson (LD, Treasurer of UBLD)
Peter Tutykhin (IND/GRN)
Michael Curzon (CON, President of UOBC)
Ng Ming (IND/DA)
Charles Michael (LD)
Peter Tutykhin (IND/GRN)
Billy Thompson (LD)
Charles Michael (LD)
Will Francis (LD)
Oliver Stanley (CON, Vice-President of UOBC)
Patrick Gilbert (LD, Secretary of UBLD)
Charles Michael (LD)
Billy Thompson (LD)
Peter Tutykhin (IND/GRN)
Ng Ming (IND/DA)
The closing speech in opposition was given by Peter Tutykhin (IND/GRN). The closing speech in favour was given by Will Francis (LD). The final votes were:
AYE: 8
NO: 5
ABSTAIN: 2
With a narrow swing of one, the proposition side won.

The second motion was that “this House believes that the environment should be placed above economic growth in terms of importance”. The initial votes were:
AYE: 3
NO: 5
ABSTAIN: 6
The opening speech in favour was given by Megan Cole (LAB, Chair of BULS). The opening speech in opposition was given by Oliver Stanley (CON, Vice-President of UOBC). The order of speakers was then as follows:
Charles Michael (LD, UBLD Communications Officer)
Billy Thompson (LD, Treasurer of UBLD)
Charlie Hobbs (LD)
Will Francis (LD)
Peter Tutykhin (IND/GRN)
Adam Belcher (LD, Vice-Chair of UBLD)
Joe Norris (LD, UBLD Events Officer)
Greg Allman (CON, UOBC Social Secretary)
Ng Ming (IND/DA)
Charlie Hobbs (LD)
Oliver Stanley (CON)
Billy Thompson (LD)
The closing speech in opposition was given by Billy Thompson (LD). The closing speech in favour was given by Peter Tutykhin (IND/GRN). The final votes were:
AYE: 3
NO: 8
ABSTAIN: 3
By swing, the opposition side won.

spirited
A healthy turnout for the first Spirited of the academic year.

Minutes of the Extraordinary General Meeting, 17th October 2019

UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM LIBERAL DEMOCRATS
EXTRAORDINARY GENERAL MEETING – 17 OCTOBER 2019

Location: Nuffield Building, Room G18

Present:
Hermione Peace (Chair)
Adam Belcher (Vice Chair)
Charles Michael (Communications Officer)
Ishbel Macpherson (Campaigns Officer)
Rosemary Burningham
William Francis
Patrick Gilbert
Charles Hobbs
Lewis Nash
Joseph Norris
Benjamin Roughton
Olivia Seifert
Sebastian Tatum
Billy Thompson
Total: 14 (50.0%)

Election – Treasurer
The position of Treasurer was open following the resignation and departure from the University of Emily Chomicz in August.

Nominated candidates: Joseph Norris, Billy Thompson

J. NORRIS: I would like to apply for the role of Treasurer. Despite being here for only a few weeks, I have really enjoyed my time in the society so far and would love to be more involved going forward, hence why I want to join the committee. As for why I am applying to be Treasurer, I’m strong with numbers and I’m a fan of a good spreadsheet, which is why I think it is the perfect job for me to contribute to the society. Thank you for listening, and I hope you consider me when voting.

B. THOMPSON: Hi there, I’m Billy, a former member of Labour, now a Lib Dem. I can offer experience from my time on a committee when I was [Birmingham University Labour Students]’s Campaigns Officer, when I helped organise campaigning for the European elections. I’m quite good at handling money, I haven’t gone into the red yet, I’m fiscally liberal. I can help people get to events and ensure a good turnout. Vote for me, the radical centrist option.

Questions

C. HOBBS: What would you like to spend money on most?
J. NORRIS: I think subsidising trips to more action days, because I really enjoyed the Sheffield Hallam trip and would love to do more of that.
B. THOMPSON: Getting to campaign events. Our former Campaigns Officer Sophie Thornton used to take people to events like the Richmond Park by-election.
H. PEACE: What has that got to do with being Treasurer?
B. THOMPSON. It’s about making sure money is spent in the right places. The Labour society have a big bank balance but never spent money.

Voting then took place. Results:
B. THOMPSON: 8
J. NORRIS: 2
R.O.N.: 0
(Abstentions: 4)
Billy Thompson was duly elected Treasurer of University of Birmingham Liberal Democrats.

Election – Secretary
The position of Secretary was open following the resignation and departure from the University of Alexander Helliker in August.

Candidates: Patrick Gilbert

P. GILBERT: I’m Patrick, I’m in first year. I’ve been a member of the party since May. I haven’t yet had chance to put in good work for our movement so that’s why I want to be Secretary. I will provide solid administration and be reliable for our Chair and the Committee. I’ve not had much experience at university but I was on a United Nations committee at high school. I believe I have the motivation and skills to fulfill this role.

Questions

B. THOMPSON: How’s your typing?
P. GILBERT: Pretty good.

H. PEACE: If we ask you to send an email or perform similar tasks, will you be responsive?
P. GILBERT: Yes.

A vote of confidence was taken by show of hands whilst the candidate was outside the room. The result:
P. GILBERT: Unanimous
R.O.N.: 0
Patrick Gilbert was duly elected Secretary of University of Birmingham Liberal Democrats.

Election – Events Officer
The position of Events Officer was open as it had not been contested at the Annual General Meeting in March 2019.

Candidates: William Francis, Joseph Norris

W. FRANCIS: My name’s Will, I’m a postgrad student studying social history. I think I would make an excellent events officer. As an undergrad at Lincoln University I was the Secretary of the Banking and Trade Society and Vice President of the Lib Dem society. In the latter role I expanded the number and range of events from a couple per semester to at least fortnightly, and including quizzes, policy brainstorming, and cross-party events, for example a cross-party debate on the merits of a People’s Vote. I have experience and passion, and want to help and have a voice in howevents are structured and how they can be made accessible and enjoyable.

J. NORRIS: Hi I’m Joe, a first year electronic engineering student. I’m new but I’ve really enjoyed events so far, including going to Sheffield Hallam. I would like to get more involved. I don’t have much experience but I’m willing to learn.

Questions

B. THOMPSON: What would be your preferred method of transport for the UK Parliament trip?
W. FRANCIS: Train.
J. NORRIS: Train. There are other alternatives but I would prefer the train.

H. PEACE: Cross-party relations are important, are you willing to get to know people from other political societies?
J. NORRIS: Yes, nationally there have been lots of defections recently so it’s also an opportunity to spread our political ideas.
W. FRANCIS: Yes, I did so when I was Vice-President of the Lib Dems at Lincoln University, with the Conservative and Labour societies.

B. ROUGHTON: Can you be more specific about which train you would get to London?
W. FRANCIS: I would use Trainline.
B. ROUGHTON: I mean, what train operator?
W. FRANCIS: Virgin.
J. NORRIS: Virgin.

Voting then took place. Results:
W. FRANCIS: 3
J. NORRIS: 9
R.O.N.: 0
(Abstentions: 2)
Joseph Norris was duly elected University of Birmingham Liberal Democrats Events Officer.

Hermione Peace then adjourned the meeting.

Some of the members present then went to the University of Birmingham Conservative Society’s Pint and Policy event.

Meeting chaired by Hermione Peace. Minutes taken by Adam Belcher. Ballots counted by Adam Belcher.

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The 15th Executive Committee following the EGM, with Charles expertly edited in. L-R: Charles Michael (Communications Officer), Ishbel Macpherson (Campaigns Officer), Billy Thompson (Treasurer), Joe Norris (Events Officer), Hermione Peace (Chair), Patrick Gilbert (Secretary), Adam Belcher (Vice-Chair)

UBLD at Autumn Conference 2019

Current and former members of UBLD attended the Liberal Democrats Federal Conference from the 14th to 17th of September; current members Hermione Peace, Adam Belcher and Billy Thompson, and former members Sophie Thornton, James Cox, Tom Thornhill, Ems Simpson, Lucy Johnson and Alicia Butteriss.

Ems, Hermione and Adam arrived early on the 13th for a birthday meal and drinks at a bar called Sixty Million Postcards for Ems’ 23rd birthday, alongside her boyfriend Seb and her other close friends in the party.

Conference in the day consisted of the usual activities of taking selfies with MPs, attending fringe events and training, and of course drinking from the late afternoon onwards. The weather was glorious, and so a few of us could often be found on the terrace outside the bar at the Marriott Hotel with Seb, Alex Wagner, Thom Chapman and other friends of the society, talking about local politics in our areas, speculating about who the next big defector would be, and relaxing whilst watching the ships out in the English Channel. It was whilst Billy was doing exactly this that he was called to speak in the railways debate a few hundred yards down the coastal path, missing his chance to make his debut conference speech. Those who did manage to speak included Hermione, up bright and early for Young Liberals’ young carers motion typically scheduled for 9am, and Sophie, who made an impassioned speech against an amendment for minimum unit pricing which unfortunately passed by a very narrow margin.

The evenings at Conference are opportunities for further drinking, socialising and general sillyness. Saturday night saw the Lib Dem Disco, which is perhaps best summarised by the fact that Adam left the bar at 4am, fell off a wall at the front of the Marriott attempting to take a shortcut, injured his foot and spent the rest of the weekend limping. Sunday night was the frankly terrifying Communioke, which most young people avoided in favour of the conference bar, where the terrace hosted a large YL contingent that night. It was on Monday that Tom Thornhill, in typical Thornhill fashion, made his last-minute, completely unannounced arrival; he went with Sophie, Billy and Adam to Harry Ramsden’s for fish and chips with the Sheffield local party (including Shaffaq Mohammed MEP). We then made our way back to the Marriott for the absolutely packed Glee Club, which saw the usual several rounds of The Land, the last ever rendition of the Lib-Lab Lie (it has since been announced that it will be retired), and Adam up on stage with other Yorkshire members singing On Ilkla Moor Baht ‘at.

All in all a great time at conference was had by all, and we all went home exhausted, some of us more injured than others.

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Hermione and Billy with the recently-defected Sarah Wollaston MP.

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Hermione speaks on the Young Carers motion.

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Sophie speaks against minimum unit pricing.

UBLD Alumni Barbecue – 15th June 2019

The University of Birmingham Liberal Democrats held their second annual end-of-year barbecue on Saturday the 15th of June 2019, at Vice-Chair Adam Belcher, outgoing Vice-Chair Sam Maude, and Secretary Alex Helliker’s house on Dawlish Road. Joining these three residents were Hermione Peace (Chair), Sophie Thornton (Chair 2018-19), Callum Gurr (Chair 2017-18), Tom Thornhill (Chair 2015-16), Emily Chomicz (Treasurer), Ems Simpson, Asher Bond, Anna Worthington, Alex Read, Alex Waters, Alicia Butteriss, Ben Sculfor and Tiffany Idle.

Callum and Asher arrived in Birmingham on Friday evening and went to the Bristol Pear with Adam, Hermione and Anna, and stayed overnight on the sofas at Adam’s house. Sam cooked the guests breakfast the next morning. At 2pm, chances of the barbecue happening at all seemed slim in the face of heavy rain, but miraculously the clouds cleared. Alex Helliker reprised his role from last year as the designated Barbecue Dad, with Adam helping by making runs to the shops for essentials such as matches. As last year, we played the popular Swedish lawn game Kubb, imported by Sam Maude from his year abroad; Callum adopted a “Diamond Dave” persona whose “two-pump strategy” proved very effective.

Unfortunately not everyone was able to stay late, but those of us who were went to the off-licence at the top of Teignmouth for more drinks and played SingStar on Sam’s PS2 until the early hours of the morning.

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The five post-coalition Chairs, with James expertly edited in. L-R: Tom Thornhill, Sophie Thornton, Callum Gurr, Hermione Peace, James Cox

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The Liberal Drinks Mafia two years on. L-R: Ems Simpson, Alex Read, Adam Belcher, Callum Gurr, Hermione Peace, Asher Bond, Alex Helliker, Anna Worthington.

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A team lines up to play Kubb. L-R: Asher Bond, Ben Sculfor, Emily Chomicz, Tom Thornhill, Ems Simpson, Alex Waters, Adam Belcher

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Ems cuddles some bread as a bemused Helliker looks on.

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Former Chair Callum Gurr with his Campaigns Officer, Alex “The Last Breadi” Waters.

Spirited Discussions – 12th June 2019

The University of Birmingham Liberal Demcrats held the final Spirited Discussions of the 2018-19 academic year on Wednesday 12th of June at 5pm in Room 104 of the Arts Building.

The first motion for debate was that “This house believes military interventionism has proved itself to be justified”. The debate was chaired by Adam Belcher, the Vice-Chair of the society. The initial votes were as follows:
AYE: 4
NO: 2
ABSTAIN: 8
The opening speech in favour was given by Cameron Simpson-Allsop (LD). The opening speech in opposition was given by Ng Ming (IND/Devil’s Advocate Soc (DA), formerly the Lunar Society). The order of speakers was then as follows:
Tiffany Idle (IND/DA)
Ned Hilton (LD)
Mark (?)
Peter Tutykhin (IND/GRN)
Cameron Simpson-Allsop (LD)
Ng Ming (IND/DA)
Alex Helliker (LD, Secretary of UBLD)
Kate Robertshaw (GRN)
Peter Tutykhin (IND/GRN)
Mark (?)
Ned Hilton (LD)
Cameron Simpson-Allsop (LD)
Peter Tutykhin (LD)
Sophie Thornton (LD, former Chair of UBLD)
Alex Nettle (GRN)
Billy Thompson (LD)
Mark (?)
Ned Hilton (LD)
Peter Tutykhin (IND/GRN)
Billy Thompson (LD)
Sam Maude (LD, former Vice-Chair of UBLD)
The closing speech in opposition was given by Ng Mind (IND/DA). The closing speech in favour was given by Peter Tutykhin (IND/GRN). The final votes were:
AYE: 9
NO: 1
ABSTAIN: 4
So the proposition side won on swing.

The second motion was that “this House believes that two-party politics is over”. The debate was chaired by Hermione Peace, the Chair of the society. The initial votes were:
AYE: 6
NO: 5
ABSTAIN: 5
The opening speech in favour of the motion was given by Sam Maude (LD, former Vice-Chair of UBLD). The opening speech in opposition was given by Sophie Thornton (LD, former Chair of UBLD). The order of speakers was then as follows:
Ned Hilton (LD)
Alex Nettle (GRN)
Billy Thompson (LD)
Ben Sculfor (IND/DA)
Tiffany Idle (IND/DA)
Peter Tutykhin (IND/GRN)
Sam Boardman (LD)
Alex Helliker (LD, Secretary of UBLD)
Sophie Thornton (LD, former Chair of UBLD)
Ned Hilton (LD)
Adam Belcher (LD, Vice-Chair of UBLD)
Tiffany Idle (IND/DA)
Billy Thompson (LD)
Peter Tutykhin (IND/GRN)
Sam Boardman (LD)
Adam Belcher (LD)
Sophie Thornton (LD)
Billy Thompson (LD)
Charis Bartley (GRN)
Sam Boardman (LD)
The closing speech in opposition was given by Charis Bartley (GRN). The closing speech in favour was given by Tiffany Idle (IND/DA). The final votes were:
AYE: 6
NO: 6
ABSTAIN: 4
With a narrow swing of 1, the opposition side won.

galahad cake
Galahad cake for Ned

sdjun19
A rather candid shot from the society Instagram.

Minutes of the Annual General Meeting, 21st March 2019

UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM LIBERAL DEMOCRATS

ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING – 21 MARCH 2019
Location: Room 103, Arts Building

Present:
Sophie Thornton (Chair)
Sam Maude (Vice Chair)
Alicia Butteriss (Treasurer)
Adam Belcher (Secretary)
Hermione Peace (Communications Officer)
Alexander Helliker (Events Officer)
Edward “Ned” Hilton (Campaigns Officer)
Samuel Boardman
Emily Chomicz
Ishbel Macpherson
Charles Michael
Nicholas Molland
Lewis Nash
Benjamin Roughton
Lily Todd
Juliano Saunders
Anna Worthington
Total: 17 (56.7%)

Voting by proxy:
Ben Sculfor

Welcome from the Chair
The meeting started shortly after 6pm. Sophie Thornton welcomed the members to the meeting and briefly ran through the agenda. Free pizza was distributed.

Minutes of the previous meeting
There were no questions regarding minutes. The motion to approve minutes was taken; results:
To approve: 17
To reject: 0
The motion was carried. There were no matters arising from previous minutes.

Chair’s Review of the Year – Sophie Thornton
S. THORNTON: We have had weekly events including several cross-party collaborations. Alistair Carmichael MP came to speak in November; thanks go to Hermione Peace for organising that. We also had a webinar with Layla Moran MP, but unfortately Christine Jardine MP had to cancel due to the ongoing Brexit votes in the House of Commons. We had more new people in the second term. We raised £88 for the homeless shelter and lots of food for the food bank at the pub quiz in October and £120 at the second quiz in February; thanks go to Adam Belcher for organising that. We went on a trip to the EU Parliament in Brussels; thanks go to Sam Maude for organising that. We also went to the party conference in York where we had a lot of first-time attendees, and Adam Belcher and Alexander Helliker both made their first conference speeches. Thanks go to the whole committee.

Sophie Thornton then presented gifts to the other members of the committee. Hermione Peace presented a gift to Sophie Thornton.

Treasurer’s Report – Alicia Butteriss
A. BUTTERISS: There hasn’t been much expenditure besides reiumbursing people for attending conference. The bank balance at the start of the year was £312.76 and the balance at the end of the year was £380.26, although some claims are still pending. This is not too little but not too much.

Secretary’s Report – Adam Belcher
A. BELCHER: There are 30 members of the society which is a drop of 6 from last year. 10 members are women, which is a third exactly; this is an improvement on last year but there is still a long way to go. I wish to put it on record that I consider it absolutely ridiculous that the Guild did not give me access to the society admin panel, as the committee member who needs to use the admin panel the most, even though other committee members did have access; I enquired about this problem on multiple occasions but was only told that there was a significant backlog. I have continued to update the society blog.

Campaigns Officer’s Report – Edward Hilton
E. HILTON: We have been metaphorically hungover from the Birmingham City Council elections last year so there haven’t been too many campaigning opportunities. Thanks go to Emily Chomicz and Juliano Saunders for helping in Ladywood. We also went to the Leamington Spa action day. I helped to run the West Midlands Liberal Democrats regional conference and we have good relations with the South West Birmingham local party. Coming up we have Solihull Council elections in May, and the West Midlands mayoral election next year.

Vice-Chair’s Report – Sam Maude
S. MAUDE: We have had a smashing year and thanks go to Sophie Thornton.

Other officers chose not to present reports.

Constitutional Amendment #1
Moved by: Adam Belcher (Secretary)

1. The title of the Constitution is amended to: “UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM GUILD OF STUDENTS LIBERAL DEMOCRATS SOCIETY – Student Group Constitution”
2. Replace the numbers of all Sections with the format “X.0”, where X is any number, with “X.”.
3. Replace Section 1.1 with the following: “The name of the group shall be the University of Birmingham Guild of Students Liberal Democrats Society, which may be abbreviated/shortened to “University of Birmingham Liberal Democrats”, “Liberal Democrats”, “UoB Lib Dems”, or “UBLD”, and shall for the rest of this document be referred to as “the group” or “the Group”.”
4. In Section 1.2, replace “University Of Birmingham Guild Of Students” with “University of Birmingham Guild of Students”.
5. In Section 1.3, replace “Guild Council, or the Student Groups Committee [SGC], acting on its behalf,” with, “The Student Groups Executive.”
6. In Section 1.4, replace “a group” with “the group”, and after “Extraordinary General Meeting”, insert “by two-thirds majority vote”.
7. Replace all references to “the Student Groups Committee”, “Student Development” or “the SGC” with “the Student Groups Executive.”
8. Replace all references to “Vice-President (Activities and Development [VPAD])” and “VPAD” with “Activities and Employability Officer”.
9. Replace all references to “Liberal Democrat” with “Liberal Democrats”.
10. At the end of Sections 2.1.1, 2.1.2, 2.1.3 and 2.1.4, add “;”, and at the end of Section 2.1.5, add “.”.
11. Replace all references to “Liberal Youth” with “Young Liberals”.
12. In Section 3.1.3, replace “Edgbaston and Selly Oak” with “South West Birmingham”.
13. At the end of Sections 3.1.1, 3.1.2 and 3.1.3, add “;”, and at the end of Section 3.2, add “.”.
14. Add the following:
“3.1.4 English Liberal Democrats;
3.1.5 English Young Liberals;
3.1.6 West Midlands Liberal Democrats;
3.1.7 West Midlands Young Liberals.”
15. From Section 4.1, remove “Student Development,”.
16. At the end of Section 5.1.1, add “.”.
17. Add the following:
“6.1 The responsibilities of committee members are as follows:”
18. Renumber 6.2 to 6.1.3;
6.3 to 6.1.4;
6.4 to 6.1.5;
6.5.1.1 to 6.1.6;
6.5.1.2. to 6.1.7;
6.5.1.3 to 6.1.8;
6.5.1.4 to 6.1.9.
19. At the end of the new Sections 6.1.1 to 6.1.8, replace all “.” with “;”.
20. Renumber 6.6 to 6.2;
6.7.1 to 6.3;
6.7.2 to 6.3.1;
6.7.3 to 6.3.2;
6.7.4 to 6.3.3;
6.8 to 6.4;
6.9 to 6.5;
6.10 to 6.6;
6.11 to 6.7.
21. In the new Section 6.5, after “Student Groups Executive,”, insert, “and”.
22. At the end of Sections 7.1, 7.2, 8.1, 8.2, 8.3, 8.4, 9.1, 9.2, 9.3 and 9.4, replace all “.” with “;”.
23. Delete Section 10.0.1.
24. Replace Section 10.1 with the following: “Vice-Chair / Non-Portfolio Officer, referred to henceforth and elsewhere as Vice-Chair – To deputise for the Chair, to assist all other committee members with any matters which may require assistance, and to take responsibility for all matters which do not fall under the responsibility of any other committee member.”
25. In Section 10.2, replace “+” with “and”.
26. At the end of Section 10.3, add “ – To assist the committee in the organisation of social events and all other society events not related to campaigns.”
27. In Section 10.4, replace “lib dem” with “Young Liberals”, and replace “the societies” with “the society’s”.
28. Renumber 11.5.1 to 11.5;
11.5.2 to 11.5.1;
11.5.3 to 11.5.2;
11.5.4 to 11.5.3;
11.5.5 to 11.5.4;
11.5.6 to 11.5.5;
11.5.7 to 11.5.6;
11.5.8 to 11.5.7;
11.5.9 to 11.5.8.
29. In the new Section 11.5, replace “format” with “agenda”.
30. At the ends of the new Sections 11.5.1 to 11.5.7, replace all “.” with “;”.
31. Add the following:
“11.7. The Annual General Meeting, by simple majority vote, may approve any decision of the group, including, but not limited to, the approval of minutes and the adoption of policies additional to this constitution, by simple majority vote, not including constitutional amendments and the election of officers, provided that any such decisions are lawful under this constitution.”
32. At the end of Section 12.1, add “.”.
33. Add the following:
“12.5 The Extraordinary General Meeting shall have all the powers of the Annual General Meeting under Section 11.7.”
34. At the end of Sections 13.1.1 to 13.1.6, replace all “.” with “;”.
35. The Section between Section 13.1.3 and Section 13.1.5 incorrectly numbered 3.1.4 shall be corrected to 13.1.4.
36. Delete Section 13.3, and renumber Section 13.4 to 13.3.
37. After “Date approved by group,” replace “_________________________” with “21st of March 2019.”
38. Delete “(Standard constitution template approved by Guild Council, March 2010)”.

Explanatory notes: this constitutional amendment seeks to:
-Correct grammatical mistakes;
-Replace old names of bodies with current names (such as Liberal Youth to Young Liberals);
-Give proper definitions to the roles of Vice-Chair and Events Officer;
-Affiliate the society with the state and regional parties of both the Liberal Democrats and the Young Liberals.

Questions

A. WORTHINGTON: What are the proposed definitions for the roles of Vice-Chair and Events Officer?
A. BELCHER: Vice-Chair / Non-Portfolio Officer, referred to henceforth and elsewhere as Vice-Chair – To deputise for the Chair, to assist all other committee members with any matters which may require assistance, and to take responsibility for all matters which do not fall under the responsibility of any other committee member. Events Officer – To assist the committee in the organisation of social events and all other society events not related to campaigns.

S. BOARDMAN: Does the affiliation with the state and regional levels of the Young Liberals indiciate an intention to work more closely with the Young Liberals, or is this simply a technical change?
A. BELCHER: The latter; it is down to the committee of the day and the society-at-large to decide how much it wishes to work with the Young Liberals, not the constitution.

E. HILTON: Could we give an officer responsibility for alumni relations?
A. BELCHER: That is a good idea but it would have to be proposed as a separate amendment.

The society divided:
FOR: 17
AGAINST: 0
Thus the amendment was passed.

Constitutional Amendment #2
Moved by: Edward Hilton (Campaigns Officer)

1. At the end of Section 10.3, delete “.” and add “and maintain a line of contact with former members of the group and arrange an annual “reunion event” so that they can maintain involvement.”

The society divided:
FOR: 16
AGAINST: 0
(1 recorded abstention)
Thus the amendment was passed.

Election – Chair

Nominated candidates: Adam Belcher, Hermione Peace

A. BELCHER: Most of my best friends are in this room so it goes without saying that I love this society. It has also boosted my confidence and given me the opportunity to develop my public speaking skills and do networking. I believe every liberal and social democrat on this campus should have that opportunity. We have a duty to nurture young politicians; you never know if the next Nick Clegg or Jo Swinson could be on this campus. This is my motivation; I have a couple of key ideas. Debating is a big part of what we do, but a lot of people find them intimidating and I want to make them more accessible. We also have to address the the fact that this has been the second consecutive year of declining membership. I want to work on how we engage with new members after freshers week and how we integrate new members into the friendship group.

H. PEACE: This society is my main friendship group and I love everyone here. I feel that I have good experience from being Communications Officer. Through being Vice-Chair of the Young Liberals I have experience of leadership and organising events. This time last year me and Ned were the only freshers in the room. We have more new people this year but we need to do more. As Adam said in his Secretary’s Report, the Guild have not made communications with members easy; I will work with the guild so that we have full access to the control panel. I am also interested in a cross-society social, potentially with the University of Nottingham Liberal Democrats, who are fairly new and reportedly view UBLD as an example of a good society. Please vote for me.

Questions

E. HILTON: How would you delegate roles to committee members?
H. PEACE: Delegation is important, it better to spread the roles and not have one or two people doing everything. I would hold more committee meetings.
A. BELCHER: I would try to delegate as much as possible in line with their job descriptions as is reasonable depending on their free time. I’m always happy to take on work from other committee members. If I lose this election I will run for Vice-Chair and it is my understanding that Hermione intends to do the same; whichever combination we are in, I believe we will both be happy to help other committee members with their roles.

S. BOARDMAN: You will both be in your final year. How will you manage your time?
A. BELCHER: I don’t forsee too many time issues. I’m not on any other committees, whilst I do have hobbies such as my micronation they would come second to this society.
H. PEACE: I am the Vice-Chair of the Young Liberals but I will not be seeking re-election in the autumn so that I can focus my energy on this society. I am in other societies but not on committee so I will have enough time.

S. THORNTON: As Chair I have done a lot of cross-party work, including cross-party diversity events. What would you do on this front?
H. PEACE: At the party conference in York I ran a fringe on young women in politics which went well. I would like to do something like that here. I want to continue the cross-party events.
A. BELCHER: We don’t have a diversity officer, so we could start by talking to the Conservative and Labour diversity officers to see if they want to do something; we could also do something with the Lunar Society.

S. MAUDE: What do you think is the most difficult part about being Chair?
A. BELCHER: The large number of people you have to deal with, such as the other political societies, the Guild, the other committee members and the members of the society itself; you have to juggle a lot of interpersonal relationships but I think I’m prepared for that.
H. PEACE: Working with the chairs and committees of other societies; the Chair also has separate training to undertake and they have to listen to and work with their own committee. They are also the face of the society and people look to them; that comes with responsibility. I would be good for this because I have leadership experience with the Young Liberals; when things have gone badly in terms of welfare I’ve managed to get through it and organise some good events. I have made some mistakes but I have learned from them.

Voting then took place. Results:
A. BELCHER: 7
H. PEACE: 11
R.O.N.: 0
Hermione Peace was duly elected Chair of the University of Birmingham Liberal Democrats.

Election – Secretary

Nominated candidates: Alexander Helliker

A. HELLIKER: It’s no secret that I have been a terrible Events Officer. However, I was doing the wrong job the entire time. I’m doing a Masters, and Secretary is something that I can actually do – handling emails, payment forms, and the society’s constitution.

Questions

A. WORTHINGTON: Will you take over the blog from Adam?
A. HELLIKER: That depends on what Adam wants to do; I am happy to work on it.
A. BELCHER: We can work out the details of this later.

A. WORTHINGTON: Will you sign off every email with XD?
A. HELLIKER: No.

C. MICHAEL: Will you continue to fight the Guild to get hold of membership lists?
A. HELLIKER: Yes, I was annoyed by this as Events Officer.

S. BOARDMAN: If you had to pick a post-war Prime Minister to take over the Brexit process, who would it be?
A. HELLIKER: I have no idea because nobody can salvage this mess.

Voting then took place. Results:
A. HELLIKER: 16
R.O.N.: 0
Alexander Helliker was duly elected Secretary of the University of Birmingham Liberal Democrats.

Election – Treasurer

Nominated candidates: Emily Chomicz

E. CHOMICZ: I was going to make a poster but could not due to austerity. Money is important in today’s world. When it comes to finance you know somebody is doing a good job when you don’t hear about them. I am good with money and will bring some fresh blood to the committee. I am in a foundation year so I will probably be in the society for the next four years.

Questions

E. HILTON: Would you support a moneyless society?
E. CHOMICZ: I did A-Level Economics, so no.

A. HELLIKER: What is 1+1?
E. CHOMICZ: 25. I’m joking.

Voting then took place. Results :
E. CHOMICZ: 16
R.O.N.: 0
Emily Chomicz was duly elected Treasurer of the University of Birmingham Liberal Democrats.

Election – Vice Chair

Nominated candidates: Adam Belcher

A. BELCHER: Basically what I said when standing for Chair. Me and Hermione are very good friends and we have a strong working relationship. I’ve been Secretary for 18 months and have become slightly bored so I would like to try something else.

Questions

S. BOARDMAN: What do you think is the most important task of the Vice Chair?
A. BELCHER: To support the rest of the committee with their tasks.

Voting then took place. Results:
A. BELCHER: 16
R.O.N.: 0
Adam Belcher was duly elected Vice Chair of the University of Birmingham Liberal Democrats.

Election – Campaigns Officer

Nominated candidates: Ishbel Macpherson

I. MACPHERSON: I joined the Liberal Democrats because I believe in its policy and want to see it implemented at the national and local level; this can only be done by winning elections, so campaigning is important. I have worked on campaigns back home including for the last general election. I think I would be a good campaigns officer.

Questions

S. THORNTON: Would you prioritise campaigns on-campus or off-campus.
I. MACPHERSON: Both are equally important. Young people aren’t very politically engaged but to win a People’s Vote or any other campaign we have to get out around Birmingham and around the country.

H. PEACE: Will you get contact details for the local party from Ned?
S. THORNTON: That will be part of the handover.
I. MACPHERSON: It would be really good to do campaigns with local parties.

J. SAUNDERS: Campaigning for the Liberal Democrats is important but what other campaigns should we work on?
I. MACPHERSON: Stopping Brexit, the environment, and engaging women and minorities in politics.

Voting then took place. Results:
I. MACPHERSON: 16
R.O.N.: 0
Ishbel Macpherson was duly elected University of Birmingham Liberal Democrats Campaigns Officer.

Election – Communications Officer

Nominated candidates: Charles Michael

C. MICHAEL: I wasn’t planning on standing but Sophie persuaded me to. I didn’t get too involved last year but I went to Brussels this year. I do enjoy the society and I have very staunch liberal politics. I guess I would make an alright officer, I have some graphics design experience so I can make banners, memes should also be fine.

Questions

H. PEACE: How committed to memes are you?
C. MICHAEL: I’ve already posted a few memes in the society chat. I prefer more traditional memes rather than Hermione’s abstract modern memes. I’m better at using Twitter, less so Instagram.

A. BUTTERISS: What is your favourite meme?
C. MICHAEL: Hermione made a meme within a minute of being elected Chair.

S. BOARDMAN: What is your favourite subreddit?
C. MICHAEL: /r/GamingCircleJerk.

Voting then took place. Results:
C. MICHAEL: 16
R.O.N.: 0
Charles Michael was duly elected University of Birmingham Liberal Democrats Communications Officer.

Election – Events Officer

Nominated candidates: None

The position of University of Birmingham Liberal Democrats Events Officer was uncontested and subsequently falls vacant.

Any Other Business

S. THORNTON: The Trans Women in Politics panel is on the 26th.

S. MAUDE: The yellow forms are for those who went to the conference in York. Please make sure you provide me with receipts.

S. THORNTON: The new committee’s welcome drinks will be at the Bristol Pear on Thursday the 28th at 6pm. The Conservative Society is holding Port and Policy tomorrow at 6pm at Bournbrook and Selly Oak Social Club.

Sophie Thornton then adjourned the meeting.

Group photographs were taken of the outgoing committee and the elected committee. Most of the members present then went to the Goose at the OVT for drinks, followed by the Nightingale nightclub.

Meeting chaired by Sophie Thornton. Minutes taken by Adam Belcher, except for when Belcher stood for election, at which points minutes were taken by Sam Maude. Ballots counted by Sophie Thornton and Alicia Butteriss.