Membership officer, Nathaneal Amos-Sansam writes on his membership profile research.
The past two years have seen a remarkable surge in membership and participation across the wider Labour movement and the Young Fabians has no exception to this renewed interest in politics.
Having conducted an audit of our current membership, I gathered some key data on where the Young Fabians membership is both strong and a weak and have offered some suggestions as to how we look at this going forwards.
Although not as dramatic as the surge in Labour Party Membership, the Young Fabians has grown from around 1,400 signed-up members in 2014, to more than 2,000 by the summer of 2017. We also have the largest number of people ever taking part in internal elections, with 485 people casting an online ballot in last year’s executive vote compared to just 285 in 2015. Around two thirds of our current membership (64%) has also joined the organisation since the start of 2015, with a majority having not been involved since before the 2015 General Election. On these measures the recent success of progressive politics in Britain has been beneficial to the Young Fabians, and many more have become interested in what we do, and more willing to get actively involved.
However, underneath these headline figures, many of the same problems that have confronted us for years still remain. Our membership is still heavily concentrated in Greater London, with roughly 46% signed up to a London address. While this has always been the case to varying degrees given the nature of our appeal and the ease of access to our events and activities in the city, it is something I feel we will need to have a serious conversation about in the coming years as power in increasingly devolved to other cities and regions of the UK. While we still have notable clusters of membership in cities like Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool, I feel that more may need to actively be done to make the Young Fabian membership less London-centric.
The same to can be said about our appeal to university students. While we do have a solid level of members under the age of 21, around 60% of our current membership is still aged between the ages of 23 and 30. While this has always been the traditional age demographic for the YF and probably reflected the nature of our London centred demographic, it is worth bearing in mind the risk this poses of a demographic cliff-edge if we don’t work on continuing this level of recruitment in the coming years, as a third of our existing membership is set to become ineligible by the end of this decade.
While these are not the most ideal demographics for any organisation with a national scope, it is important that we understand that this is currently where there centre of gravity currently lies within our membership, and act accordingly to mitigate these trends.
The challenges that this poses for Young Fabians are the same challenges that confront most other organisations within the wider Labour movement: concentration within London and metropolitan centres, a massive gender imbalance, a relatively new but disengaged membership. But I feel that this are all issues that we can begin to address with the right policies.
Finally, I would encourage you all to take part in my membership survey about what members would like us to focus on going forwards.