Young Fabians

Young Fabians

The Young Fabians is the under 31 years of age section of the Fabian Society, a socialist society in the United Kingdom.


The Fabian Society was founded by a group of young idealists in the late 19th century (see Fabian Society entry for full details). For example HG Wells was 27 when he joined the Committee as was George Bernard Shaw. However, by the middle of the 20th century, the average age of active members was relatively elderly. In order to encourage more young people to join the society, a Young Fabian Group was proposed.

The Young Fabian Group for members of the Fabian society 30 years of age or younger was officially convened in May 1960 at a meeting organised by Fabian Society assistant General Secretary, Dick Leonard.

From small beginnings, the Young Fabians produced a steady stream of pamphlets through the 1960s and 1970s, and produced some 50 by 1980.

The Young Fabians became less prominent during the 1980s while the Labour Party re-organised its youth wing, partly based on a template set out in a Young Fabian pamphlet.

However, in the early 1990s, the group underwent a revival and played an important role in the discussion of the next stage of modernisation within the Labour Party. In 1994, members of the Young Fabians were part of the campaign to elect Tony Blair leader of the party and then the campaign to change Clause IV, although the group itself took no formal position on these issues.

In recent years several controversial pamphlets have been produced including "Students as citizens" which advocated granting more choice to university students and "The Case for Socialism" which set out the socialist themes and actions of the Government of Tony Blair. The most recent pamphlet, number 55, was on the rise of the far right in British Politics.

The Group's magazine "Anticipations", named after the title of an essay by HG Wells, was founded in 1996. It was originally edited by Liam Byrne, Tom Happold, Mark Leonard and Emma Beswick.

Political position

The Young Fabians' initial statement of purpose was to avoid commitment to any one brand of socialism and to provide a "forum for different points of view within the left," a commitment which continues more than 40 years later.

Unlike other youth socialist groups, the Young Fabians has maintained this position of neutrality on policy issues, upholding the Fabian Society principle that its role is merely to determine whether a matter or position is suitable for discussion, not to take a group position on an issue. This has helped the group survive through many changes in the Labour Party without being identified as part of the left or right wing factions.

Along with the Fabian Society the Young Fabians is affiliated to the Labour Party and indeed has the right to appoint one member to the Executive Committee of Young Labour. However, non-members of the Labour Party, who are members of other political parties, are able to join the group as non-voting members.

The importance of the Young Fabians

The book The Modernisers' Dilemma cites the Young Fabians as one of the most important groups within the Labour Party. As an organised network of younger, generally well educated party members, often researchers or academics, the Young Fabians is one of the main social and informal networks through which political activity is carried out. However, by taking no formal policy stance, the Young Fabians has been able to include both supporters and sceptics of the current Labour Government.

The Young Fabians also fills the gap between student politics and mainstream Labour Party politics, a gap which is filled in the Liberal Democrat and Conservative Party structures by having youth wings which include graduates up to the age of 30.

Young Fabian alumni

Young Fabian alumni include: Professor Colin Crouch, Brian Lapping,Howard Glennerster, Giles Radice, Conrad Russell, Michael Crick, Peter Mandelson, Jack Straw, Stephen Twigg, Ann Taylor, John Mann, Phil Woolas, Oona King, Lorna Fitzsimons, Paul Richards, Tom Watson, Liam Byrne and Mark Leonard.

The Young Fabians today

Since 1994, the Young Fabians has grown to more than 1,000 members. It currently holds a series of events including policy seminars, debates and receptions in foreign embassies, recent visits to Edinburgh and Brussels, and publishes the quarterly magazine "Anticipations". The current Chair is Mark Rusling, and details of other executive members are available on the website.

Young Fabian Chairs

Chairs of the Young Fabians are elected at the November AGM and hold office for one year. Recent Chairs have included:

* 1993-1994 Katherine Edwards
* 1994-1995 Darren Kalynuk
* 1995-1996 Emma Beswick
* 1996-1997 Tom Happold
* 1997-1998 Peter Metcalfe
* 1998-1999 Howard Dawber
* 1999-2000 Seema Malhotra
* 2000-2001 Mari Williams
* 2001-2002 Guy Lodge
* 2002-2003 James Connal
* 2003-2004 Jessica Asato
* 2004-2005 Kevin Bonavia
* 2005-2006 Prema Gurunathan
* 2006-2007 Conor McGinn
* 2007- Mark Rusling

See also

*"Anticipations" - Magazine of the Young Fabians

See also

*List of UK think tanks

External links

* [ Young Fabians Website]

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