Jack Donaghy: Why I’m running for National Secretary in the SYC elections

I’m standing to become the next National Secretary of the Scottish Young Conservatives. I
previously represented my local area as Area Representative for East Kilbride, before
recently being elected as Association Secretary. I’ve been a party member for several years
and have seen a lack of youth activism within the Scottish Conservatives. For example, my
association, South Lanarkshire, has merely twenty members under the age of twenty six.
This contrasts with our council area which is the fifth largest council area in Scotland.

Our party largely focuses on Scotland’s Central Belt. However, we have talent from across
Scotland – it is time we give all our members a voice to deliver.

My election as Association Secretary has allowed me to highlight my skills at a local level
and show what I can deliver if elected. I’ve recently played an active part in working
collaboratively to improve the membership and engage with our members through a new
monthly association newsletter, an updated website, and an improved line of
communication with the executive.

Over the past two years, I have actively participated in local association events and
advocated for candidates in their election campaigns, providing my insight as an active
Young Conservative with a desire to improve the lives of young people. In my campaign, I
have a vision for change and a plan for action. As a member of Blue Beyond I have seen the
importance of a strong grassroots organisation, and I believe SYC has the same potential

As a Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament for East Kilbride, I have a two-year mandate
to represent my constituents and their opinions at a national and local level. So far, I have
delivered on manifesto promises and will continue to promote campaigns and influence
decision-making. I have taken on roles in influential campaigns, for example, the research
into Violence Against Women and Girls with the Scottish Government and the Mental
Health investigation for young people. I believe this experience will make me the most
suitable candidate to be the next National Secretary.

The current leadership election shows the disconnect between politicians and members,
that’s why we need a fresh start with fresh faces – that candidate is me.

If elected to the Scottish Young Conservatives board, my manifesto promises are:

1. Ensure Young Conservatives are involved in making party policy by working with the
parliamentary team in meetings and membership surveys.

For the party to represent Young Conservatives, we need to be involved in the
conversation and policy-making. After now being elected to the Board I can see what
a fresh perspective can bring to an association, and I believe a passionate Young
Conservative like myself will be able to get our members involved.

2. Ensure the National Board is answerable to our members by creating a monthly
newsletter for members and engaging through events like Q&As.

I believe that our members are the backbone and future of the party, hence their
involvement is vital. I’ve seen how a stagnant association can kill any ambition and
provide healthy support for candidates in elections. That’s why I want to engage with
members, listen to their views, and deliver for them.

3. Ensure Young Conservatives are represented at conference through events,
meetings, and stalls – allowing us to increase our publicity.

I’ve been to two conferences in the past year and not one of them had a stand or
stall for the Scottish Young Conservatives, I believe the only way to circulate our
message is to stand out. The Young Conservatives down south are an ideal example
of representing their members with stalls and continuous events – we ought to have
that in Scotland.

4. Ensure all members have equal opportunities no matter their background, and
continue the previous board’s internship plan.

Our party has a challenging election ahead of it, and we need to concentrate on all
areas across Scotland. We have constituencies in the North that are neglected for
the Central Belt. The Scottish Conservatives have the potential to reclaim these
constituencies and stand up for what we believe in. We need to get members from
across Scotland involved in the party and provide them with the opportunities to
show their political talent – that’s why I would continue the SYC Board’s Internship
plan to get more young people involved in politics.

5. Engage with the party to target non-traditional Young Conservatives, and therefore
increase party voters through targeted campaigns.

We have some fantastic talent in our party, and we need to expand on that. Over
half of all young people aged 16-34 voted for the Scottish National Party in 2021 – if
we can deliver a strong campaign that sets out our plans and vision, we can win
them over. Our party’s reputation is damaged, and we as young conservatives need
to rebuild it, together.