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  • Writer's pictureCallum Reid

In-depth: How we're empowering our members with the most extensive package of reforms in our history

Our members and our regions power the YSI.

The Regions are the heart of this organisation; they're the primary point of contact and support for members at a local level.

In addition, the regions have been the birthplace of many progressive and life-changing policy ideas that are now improving lives across Scotland, having become not just Scottish Government policy but the law of the land.

The Scots Language Board, School Leavers Toolkit, Inclusive Education, drug decriminalisation, rent controls, the nationalisation of Scotrail, a national allowance for foster and kinship carers, neonatal leave, devolution of employment law, community-owned housing, financial support services in GP practices.

But we can do so much more, and I'm determined we do.

That's why the internal review passed by the YSI conference via a resolution binding on the YSI's NEC proposed the biggest transfer of powers to the regions in YSI history but also to empower our action groups and our equality working groups.

Here's how these reforms deliver on that promise:

Moving to a caucus model:

This package of reforms marks the YSI's transition to a caucus model, placing the real powers of change into the hands of every member.

Here are three reasons why we, the YSI, have moved to a caucus-based model:

  1. Inclusivity and Diversity: A caucus model allows for forming caucuses based on specific interests, demographics, or issues. This promotes inclusivity and ensures that diverse voices within the membership are heard and represented.

  2. Democratic Principles: The caucus model aligns more with our democratic principles, as it promotes the inclusion of diverse voices and allows members to impact the YSI's direction directly at both local and national levels.

  3. Educational Opportunities: Caucuses can serve as educational platforms, fostering discussions, workshops, and events that enhance members' understanding of specific issues empowering members with knowledge while contributing to a more informed and active membership.

The YSI has established the following new caucuses:

Regional Caucuses:

The most local form of engagement within the YSI is that regions can elect their committees, debate policy, run local campaigns and events, raise money, and more.

We have changed the regional rules to allow local members to decide what works for them rather than having a one-size-fits-all approach, which only works for some. 

Members are now entitled to regional representation on NEC no matter what, regardless of whether there is a fully active regional caucus in their area. 

Local members can now also decide if the region should have a committee, the size of the committee and what roles to have within the region, with the absolute minimum being the election of a secretary and an organiser. 

These reforms place the running in the regions directly into the hands of the regions.

From now on, should a region wish to change their rules or standing order. Instead of seeking NEC approval, they will seek a new regional council's approval.

The Regional Council will consist of the National Secretary, National Vice-Convener and all regional representatives. 

The council will approve the changes to the regional rules and standing orders so long as they do not breach the YSI constitution, impact another region, or give unfair advantages to one group of members.

Furthermore, these new rules make it easier for regions to establish their structures within their regions.

We have removed NEC's requirement to approve the establishment of regional branches while lowering the threshold from a two-thirds majority to a simple majority. 

This means, for example, that if a region has many female members, it can establish a regional branch to ensure better representation of female members within the region.

Policy Caucuses:

Some of the best YSI policies have come from ordinary members who share an interest and knowledge in a particular policy area coming together and working to implement their ideas for change through the YSI Conference and beyond the party conference.

The YSI is fearless in grasping the significant policy issues affecting Scotland and coming up with bold and radical solutions even when we must push our party outside its comfort zone.

The YSI should always have the courage to stand up for our values and convictions even when we know we might not succeed.

Our new policy caucuses empower that process and members to affect change through the YSI.

Before these reforms, policy would have to come from either individual members or regions. 

Now, they can come from any of the caucus models, individual members and, in future, from a YSI National Assembly.

Policy caucuses allow members interested in a specific area to work together and make their voices heard in the YSI.

Equality Caucuses:

We recognise that many issues facing minority groups don't always have the broader spotlight on them, and we want to change that.

That's why we've turned our equality working groups into caucuses, giving them increased representation and policy powers, and we will enshrine them into our constitution to provide them with protected status within the YSI.

Each equality group will now elect a representative to sit on a new equality council and make the concerns, ideas and views of their caucus heard by the National Equalities and National Women's Officer, who can provide support or advice to representatives and feedback to the wider NEC on their concerns.

Equality Caucuses can also set their policy and bring ideas to YSI conference to become National YSI policy.

We're committed to delivering the internal review in full:

Conference has instructed the YSI through a binding resolution to implement the internal review reforms during this term fully.

We have already progressed in several areas but still have much to do. We are committed to keeping our promise to members.

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