Welcome 2018 Freshers!

The UBLD committee would like to welcome you to the University of Birmingham.

Whether you’ve never been involved in politics before, or have been a member of the Lib Dems for years, liberals of all kinds are welcome at our wide range of weekly events. We try our best to ensure that there is something for everyone.

We will have a stall at the Societies Fair on Thursday 27th of September. Come and say hi to the committee, learn more about our society, and maybe pick up a few freebies 😉

We usually hold our events on Thursday evenings. Our first few events for the autumn term are:

-Thursday 4th October: Welcome drinks at Joe’s Bar. An opportunity to meet and get to know other members of the society, in an informal, relaxed atmosphere.

-Thursday 11th October: Pizza at The Vale. We will be gathering at The Vale to eat pizza and chat, and maybe play some lawn games if the weather is good. Another chance to meet members of the society in a casual environment (useful if you missed week 1). This is a non-alcoholic event.

-Thursday 18th October: Talk by Christine Jardine MP. The recently-elected Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for Edinburgh West will be visiting – we don’t know what she’ll be talking about yet, but it’s bound to be interesting!

-Thursday 25th October: Spirited Discussions. Our first debate night of the academic year. Topics TBA.

-Thursday 1st November: Pub Quiz. We will be raising money for homelessness charities with our very own pub quiz. Expect challenging trivia, cheesy 80s music and plenty of memes.

-Thursday 8th November: Liberal Drinks. We’re back at Joe’s Bar for some more casual chat over drinks.

-Thursday 15th November: Libertea. A chance to relax with some tea or coffee, your favourite liberals, and maybe a few social games.

-Thursday 22nd November: Talk by Alistair Carmichael MP. Chief Whip of the Liberal Democrats and Member of Parliament for Orkney and Shetland.

More events will be announced in due course for the final few weeks of the term.

Remember to follow us on social media (Twitter and Facebook) for more updates about event times and locations.

All our events are free (except for the Pub Quiz and any trips we may or may not be doing in Spring term) and no tickets are required – just show up. However, if you intend on attending our events, we would appreciate if you joined the society, which you can do here for just £3.

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– The UBLD Executive Committee

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YL Media Training Day at UoB

UBLD were pleased to host the Young Liberals at large at the University of Birmingham on Monday 20th August, for a media and communications training day organised by our communications officer Hermione Peace, in her capacity as federal YL communications officer. A series of sessions were held in the Guild of Students building between 10am and 5pm. Current UoB students present included Adam Belcher, Sam Maude and Anna Worthington, and we were joined by recent alumnus Asher Bond, who stayed overnight at Adam’s house. In total, there were somewhere between 20-30 members of the Young Liberals from across the country present.

Talks included:
Dan Schmeising on Nationbuilder
Hermione Peace and Tom McGrath on graphic design
James Cox (former UBLD Chair and recently selected PPC for Bristol West) on video creation
Huw James on effective advertising

Afterwards, many of those present walked to the Bristol Pear for food and a few drinks. Numbers quickly thinned as most of those present had to get trains home, but a small group of around eight stayed at the Pear long enough to participate in its weekly pub quiz. “Lost Deposits” finished second place overall, just 10 points behind the winners (we would have tied for first had Simon Mansfield not accidentally selected a wrong answer when sliding the phone over to someone else; indeed, had Simon accidentally selected the right answer, we would have won). We did at least win a bonus prize of a round of beers by being the fastest team to select the right answer to a particular question. After the quiz was over, we called at Cheeky Joe’s for some ice cream, before heading home.

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At the Bristol Pear after the training day. L-R: Anna Worthington, Thomas Laver, Michael Carthew, Jack Worral, Sam Maude, Adam Belcher, Asher Bond, Dan Schmeising, Amy Gaskin, ???, Simon Mansfield, James Bliss. Photo by Hermione Peace.

UBLD at the Young Liberals Activate conference 2018

The Young Liberals summer Activate conference, held at Fulton House at Swansea University, was attended by University of Birmingham Liberal Democrats members Adam Belcher and Hermione Peace, as well as recent alumnus Ems Simpson.

At midday on Friday the 10th of August, prior to the official opening of conference, Adam and Ems attended the annual general meeting of the English Young Liberals. Despite serving as Chair of the English Young Liberals, Ems did not preside over the meeting, due to the fact that there was no constitution in place; Callum Littlemore, the Welsh YL Chair, instead presided. The meeting discussed the proposed new constitution written by Ned Williams, which was unanimously passed. Meanwhile, Hermione attended a meeting of the YL federal executive, in her capacity as YL Communications Officer.

Conference was opened with a speech by Tessa Munt, the former MP for Wells and the honourary president of YL. On the Friday evening, YL members went to the nearby beach for a barbecue. Afterwards, attendees (including Adam and Hermione, but not Ems) went to a Weatherspoons in Swansea town centre, followed by the Sin City nightclub.

The Saturday night saw the YL Awards, in which our own Sophie Thornton won Most Likely to Become an MP (Sophie is currently standing for PPC selection in Leeds North West, Greg Mulholland’s old seat). This was followed by the YL Revue, consisting of various Glee Club songs such as The Land (sung largely a capella in a dark room, to create the proper cult atmosphere), along with various songs broadly fitting into the school disco category, with Ems and others acting as DJs. Afterwards, many members including Adam, Ems and Hermione caught the bus into town to spend another couple of hours at Weatherspoons. Things here soon degenerated and many people were peer pressured into drinking alcohol from their own shoe, including our international guest Pau Castellví (this is apparently considered normal behaviour at Oxford). We danced to Queen and songs from Grease for a while, before returning to accomodation.

Sunday opened with federal officers’ reports. Hermione received three motions of commendation in her capacity as Communications Officer, one of which was moved by Ems, who spoke in favour of commendation; Hermione was duly commended by an overwhelming majority. Hermione later successfully moved a constitutional amendment to introduce a new Communications Committee, and also summated a policy motion on defence.

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The beach barbecue.

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Ems speaks on Charlie Murphy’s social housing motion.

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Ems creates Matt Downey in The Sims, whilst Hermione presumably looks at memes.

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Sadly Sophie wasn’t present to receive her award.

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Young Liberals gather for the revue (Adam can be seen on the far left, Hermione in the centre-left, and Ems in the centre).

(All photos by Callum Littlemore)

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The Weatherspoons gang on Saturday night (Adam and Ems can be seen on the left, and Hermione in the centre) (Photo by Cllr. Scott Emery).

Congratulations to our 2018 graduates + the UBLD Awards

We are very proud of all the UBLD members graduating from the University of Birmingham this summer. Our congratulations go to:

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Mr. Asher Bond BA (Political Science and International Relations)

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Mr. Jake Calcutt BA (Political Science and International Relations)

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Mr. Andrew Field BA (Political Science and Sociology)

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Mr. William Greenow MSci (Mathematics)

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Mr. Callum Gurr BA (History and Political Science)

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Miss Hannah Hunter BA (Political Science and International Relations)

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Mr. Alexander Read BA (Political Science and International Relations)

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Miss Emily Simpson BA (History and Political Science)

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Mr. Alexander Waters BSc (Biochemistry)

Before we wrap up, at the suggestion of Callum and Asher we’ve decided to have a little bit of fun and come up with some unserious UBLD Awards 2018!

Best Beard
Nominated: Alex Read, Adam Belcher
Winner: Alex Read

Best Power Couple
Nominated: Callum & Asher, Ems & Hermione
Winner: Callum & Asher

Best Dancer
Nominated: Alex Waters, Alex Helliker
Winner: Alex Waters

Best GIFs
Nominated: Asher Bond, Juliano Saunders
Winner: Juliano Saunders

Best xD
Nominated: Alex Helliker, Juliano Saunders
Winner: Alex Helliker

Best Drunk
Nominated: Adam Belcher, Sophie Thornton
Winner: Adam Belcher

Best Campaigner
Nominated: Jake Calcutt & Sophie Thornton, Ned Hilton, Juliano Saunders
Winner: Jake Calcutt & Sophie Thornton

Best Debater
Nominated: James Cox, Sophie Thornton, Alex Read
Winner: Sophie Thornton

Most Controversial Views
Nominated: Ems Simpson, Hannah Hunter, Alex Read
Winner: Alex Read

Best Barry Stanton
Nominated: Ned Hilton
Winner: Ned Hilton

Best Memes
Nominated: Ems Simpson, Hermione Peace, Asher Bond
Winner: Hermione Peace

Quote of the Year
Nominated: “Soliloquy is Old English… motherf***er”; “I am extremely keen to eat squirrels”; “Asher is the most gay straight man I’ve ever met, and Alex is the most straight gay man I’ve ever met”; “I certainly don’t want your love in my cake”; “But I have no money and I’m gaaaaaay…”; “I’m never calling Callum “daddy” again”
Winner: “Asher is the most gay straight man I’ve ever met, and Alex is the most straight gay man I’ve ever met”

Most Iconic / Ridiculous Moment
Nominated: Alex Read getting locked in the bathroom; Alex Waters’ scissors getting confiscated at Parliament; Alex Read reciting Marquis de Sade; Asher proposing to let the pandas die out at Pint & Policy; Alex Read doing his Callum impression; Lily Regardsoe downing a bottle of wine at Spirited Discussions; Alex Read’s character getting arrested in the Model UN crisis exercise; Adam “networking” at the party conference; Shit Andy getting a 20kg bag of sand for his birthday
Winner: Alex Read reciting Marquis de Sade

Well, that’s all for now, see you all in September!

UBLD Barbecue – 6th June 2018

The University of Birmingham Liberal Democrats held their final official event of the 2017-18 academic year with a barbecue held on Wednesday the 6th of June at Adam Belcher and Alex Helliker’s house in Selly Oak. Besides them, present were Sophie Thornton, Hermione Peace, Sam Maude, Ned Hilton, Ems Simpson, Callum Gurr, Asher Bond, Anna Worthington, James Cox, Alex Waters and Hannah Hunter. James’ girlfriend Laura also joined us.

The weather for the barbecue was perfect. Helliker operated the barbecue and was our resident dad for the day. Whilst waiting for the barbecue to heat up, Sam Maude taught us how to play Kubb, a lawn game he had brought back from his year abroad in Sweden.

After the barbecue, we got through a few drinks and played Secret Hitler, with James acting as the gamemaster.

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Sam sets up the game of Kubb

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James prepares to throw

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James hides in the bushes from flying bits of wood

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Hermione throwing the wood thing (I assume it has a proper name, too lazy to google it)

Beyond this event, UBLD members had a few informal pub gatherings, but within a week most members had returned home for the summer. UBLD will be back in the autumn with our Freshers events.

Spirited Discussions – 4th June 2018

The University of Birmingham Liberal Democrats held their final Spirited Discussions debates of the academic year on Monday the 4th of June, starting at 6pm in Lecture Room 1 of the Arts Building. The event was attended by many Lib Dems and Tories, though some of our usual Labour guests were missing as we had unfortunately scheduled the event at the same time Gordon Brown was at the university giving a talk.

The first motion was that “this House believes that the premiership of Tony Blair’s premiership was largely positive”. The debate was chaired by Sophie Thornton as Chair of UBLD. The initial vote as as follows:
AYE: 10
NO: 7
ABSTAIN: 10
The opening speech in favour was given by Sam Boardman (LD). The opening speech in opposition was given by Luke Watson (CON). The order of speakers hence was as follows:
Joe McColl (CON)
Luke Watson (CON)
Asif Mohammed (LAB)
Joe McColl (CON)
Anna Humphreys (CON, UOBC Chair)
Joe McColl (CON)
Sam Boardman (LD)
Alex Helliker (LD, UBLD Events Officer)
James Cox (LD, former UBLD Chair)
Hermione Peace (LD, UBLD Comms Officer)
Luke Caldecott (CON, former UOBC Chair)
Asif Mohammed (LAB)
DJ Hanson (LAB)
Hermione Peace (LD)
Sam Boardman (LD)
James Cox (LD)
Alex Garrido (LAB)
DJ Hanson (LAB)
Anna Worthington (LD)
Asif Mohammed (LAB)
Luke Caldecott (CON)
Alex Garrido (LAB)
James Cox (LD)
Sam Boardman (LD)
Joe McColl (CON)
Alex Helliker (LD)
Luke Watson (CON)
Jamie Smith (CON)
Hannah Hunter (LD)
Jonathan Lench (CON)
Asif Mohammed (LAB)
Anna Worthington (LD)
Asif Mohammed (LAB)
Luke Watson (CON)
Luke Caldecott (CON)
Speeches touched on Blair’s education policies, his legacy on immigration, and inevitably covered the Iraq War. The closing speech in opposition was given by James Cox (LD, former Chair of UBLD). The closing speech in favour was given by Ned Hilton (LD, UBLD Campaigns Officer). The final vote was as follows:
AYE: 13
NO: 12
ABSTAIN: 3
The opposition won on swing, narrowing the gap from 3 votes to 1.

The second motion was that “this House believes in the abolition of private schools”. This debate was also chaired by Sophie Thornton. The initial vote was as follows:
AYE: 10
NO: 12
ABSTAIN: 9
The opening speech in favour was given by Joe McColl (CON). The opening speech in opposition was given by Luke Caldecott (CON, former UOBC Chair). The order of speakers hence was as follows:
Ned Hilton (LD, UBLD Campaigns Officer)
Asif Mohammed (LAB)
Joe McColl (CON)
Hermione Peace (LD, UBLD Comms Officer)
Hannah Hunter (LD)
Alex Waters (LD)
Sam Boardman (LD)
Alex Read (LD/CON)
Rachel Mooney (CON, UOBC Social Sec)
Anna Humphreys (CON, UOBC Chair)
James Cox (LD, former UBLD Chair)
Luke Caldecott (CON)
Jamie Smith (CON)
Sam Boardman (LD)
Luke Watson (CON)
Jonathan Lench (CON)
DJ Hanson (LAB)
Hannah Hunter (LD)
Chloe Henney (CON)
Luke Caldecott (CON)
Anna Humphreys (CON)
Jonathan Lench (CON)
Sam Boardman (LD)
Asif Mohammed (LAB)
Joe McColl (CON)
Alex Read (LD/CON)
Speeches generally focussed on social mobility, with personal experiences with private, comprehensive and grammar schools being cited. The closing speech in opposition was given by Sarah Horton (CON). The closing speech in favour was given by Alex Waters (LD). The final vote was as follows:
AYE: 12
NO: 16
ABSTAIN: 1
The opposition won on swing, widening their lead from 2 votes to 4.

The third and final debate was a more relaxed and jovial debate to select a new British national anthem. This debate was co-chaired by Adam Belcher, the Secretary of the society, and Hermione Peace, the Communications Officer. Suggestions included:
Toto – Africa
The complete works of Dua Lipa
The Killers – Mr Brightside
Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody
Ode to Joy
Nick Clegg “I’m Sorry” song
Thomas the Tank Engine theme
Darude – Sandstorm
The Land
Wii Theme
Ding Dong the Witch is Dead
The last 15 seconds of dialog (in which Caldecott’s beer can tower collapsed immediately after someone suggested Ding Dong the Witch is Dead, prompting concern that Margaret Thatcher’s spirit was in the room)
The winning song, however, was Boys by Charlie XCX.

With the debates concluded, a number of those present went to the Goose for a couple more drinks. Others went to Anna Worthington’s house to sample various teas.

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Former UBLD Secretary Sam Boardman gives the opening speech in favour of the Blair motion.

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Tory Luke Watson gives his opening speech opposing the Blair motion.

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UBLD Events Officer Alex Helliker praises Blair’s domestic achievements such as the Human Rights Act and the minimum wage.

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James Cox, UBLD Chair Emeritus, attacks Blair’s record on civil liberties and political reform (or lack thereof)

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UoB Conservatives Chair Anna Humphreys gives her thoughts on private schools.

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Sarah Horton gives her closing speech opposing the private schools motion.

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Alex Waters, former UBLD Campaigns Officer, gives the closing speech in favour of abolishing private schools.

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The room sings the new national anthem, Boys by Charlie XCX

The following Tuesday the 5th of June, Sophie Thornton, Adam Belcher, Hannah Hunter, James Cox, Sam Maude, Sam Boardman, Ned Hilton and Alex Read attended UoBC’s final Port and Policy of the academic year, discussing the IDF, abortion in Northern Ireland, and inheritance tax. Afterwards, a few of us went on to join Ems Simpson, Hermione Peace, Alicia Butteriss, Alex Helliker and others at Asher Bond’s end-of-year house party (I mention this because Asher will be very sad if I don’t).

PolSoc Summer Formal – 1st June 2018

On Friday the 1st of June, a number of UBLD members attended the UoB Politics Society’s annual Summer Formal. Present were Sophie Thornton, Sam Maude, Adam Belcher, Callum Gurr, Ems Simpson, Asher Bond, Alex Helliker, Hermione Peace and Alex Read.

Pre-drinks were held at Adam and Helliker’s house from 7pm, first in the back garden before moving indoors as it began to get colder. During pre-drinks, we had a horrible incident where we forgot to inform Alex Read that the lock for the downstairs bathroom was broken – it was possible to lock the door, but not unlock it. We then spent around half an hour trying to rescue Read from the bathroom, with Helliker getting his toolkit and removing the door handle, to no avail. He was trapped in there for so long that we even passed his beer to him through the bathroom window. Eventually we gave him permission to smash the door down, which worked.

At around 8:30pm, we booked Ubers to the Bureau Bar in the city centre. Once there we helped ourselves to the free sparkling wine and checked out the rooftop terrace. There were a few Tories there who a few of us chatted with. More importantly, we were able to get a lot of very nice group pictures from the official photographer.

At around 11pm, we along with a few other politicos decided to head to another pub. However this pub turned out to be too expensive so we went to Wetherspoons instead. Here the Secretary’s memories become obscured by the fog of alcohol, but we do remember going to get food after this, before calling it a night.

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Alex Read trapped in the bathroom

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The women of UBLD, L-R: Sophie Thornton, Ems Simpson, Hermione Peace

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When Callum is mansplaining again…

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L-R: Alex Helliker, Adam Belcher, Callum Gurr, Ems Simpson, Hermione Peace

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L-R: Callum Gurr, Hermione Peace, Sam Maude, Sophie Thornton, Alex Helliker, Ems Simpson, Adam Belcher, Alex Read, Asher Bond

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L-R: Lily Regardsoe (CON), Josh Mackenzie (CON), Alex Read, Hermione Peace, Callum Gurr, Asher Bond, Sam Maude, Ems Simpson, Sophie Thornton, Alex Helliker, Adam Belcher

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A bizarre scene from the pub afterwards, featuring Adam and Helliker

The following day, several members of UBLD were present at ValeFest. The main group consisted of Ems, Hermione, Adam, Sam Maude and Will Greenow. Ned, Ffion Williams, Sam Boardman and others were also present, though we didn’t see them as much.

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The gang at ValeFest, L-R: Sam Maude, Hermione Peace, Will Greenow, Ems Simpson