I'll be honest, I'm not missing the 'glamour' of spending my weekends travelling around the country with Ros. However, I do like to get out beyond the borders of Suffolk from time to time, and this weekend sees me in Dresden for a meeting of the ELDR Council (for more details, see here).
For a Party which is internationalist and pro-European, we really don't take our European relationships that seriously. Our delegations to ELDR and Liberal International go unremarked and, for the most part, unnoticed, and it is rare for a senior figure, other than our MEPs, to take part. Which is a pity, in truth.
More than twenty years ago, when I was International Officer of the Young Liberal Democrats, one of the more successful aspects of our activity was our participation in LYMEC (Liberal Youth Movements of the European Community) and IFLRY (International Federation of Liberal and Radical Youth). They were a thoroughly effective training ground for young politicians and, occasionally, a stepping stone to bigger and better things. My contemporaries ended up as government ministers, MEPs and MPs. One of them became the Vice Premier of British Columbia.
Now, Liberal Youth aren't engaged to the same extent, and the age profile of those who choose to take part from the wider party is a mite depressing - twenty years later, I'm still one of the younger ones.
Twenty years ago, relative poverty was a valid excuse - most twenty-somethings had more pressing things to spend their money on than a wet weekend of policy wrangling in Bratislava or Helsinki - but now the issue is about information. After all, who knows much about the international work of the Party these days?
Oh yes, there are reports in Liberal Democrat Pravda, read by very few people likely to read this piece, but there are no reports to Conference, little coverage in Liberal Democrat Voice (unless I write it), and therefore little scope for widening participation.
Something should be done... might our noble friend, Lord Bonkers, be prevailed upon to help out?