Fabianism and the Opportunity to Shape Starmer's Vision

The new Chair of the Fabian Society, Martin Edobor, highlights what Fabianism has achieved and makes the case for Fabian ideas to continue to be central to Keir Starmer's vision for a progressive future.

As we emerge from the rubble of Donald Trump's presidency into the looming catastrophe of a hard-right Brexit and an ever-pressing climate emergency - many people may ask the question - is Fabianism radical enough to meet the challenges of the next decade and beyond? 

Well - the Fabian ethos of gradualism - is radical. We live in a world where democratic norms have broken, while the rights and freedoms that we have come to know in liberal democracies are under threat. To stand for liberal, social democracy - is a radical act.

Fabianism is rooted in social democracy, throughout the 20th century, we have been the intellectual engine for the Labour Party, from universal healthcare to the minimum wage to independence for the bank of England. Fabian ideas acted as the fuel for progressive change. Attlee, Wilson and Blair, each used the gradualist policies of the Fabians, alongside their leadership qualities to bring the party and the public with them towards a better future.

However, over the last five years, we have seen this progress halted by a faction in the Labour Party that believed we could, in one fell swoop, achieve seismic change, a real rupture with Britain's near past. And what have they achieved? The most hard-right Tory government that has ever existed, one that will punish the very people that Labour was founded to represent. 

Some say that the centre-left cannot deliver the bold policies to deal with the genuine threats that our country faces - from right-wing populism to climate change. But there is a new consensus emerging among traditional left-leaning parties: In America, Joe Biden, derided by some as the embodiment of establishment politics, will lead the most progressive climate change action ever seen by a western government. Here at home, Keir Starmer has been ahead of the government in calling for evidence-led solutions to deal with this unprecedented COVID19 pandemic. What we see now are left-leaning leaders defining the centre-ground.

Leaders alone are not enough to turn the tide; what is needed now is a comprehensive platform coupled with the electoral strength to enact change. In America Biden's future hangs on the Senate. At the same time, in the UK we need to overturn an eighty-seat seat Tory majority, which means appealing to Colne Valley as much as we do to Canterbury. To achieve this, we will need a set of policies, which are pragmatic, prudent and economically viable.

Let me tell you - this will not be easy, but the Fabian Society, which I am proud to Chair is more than up to the task of providing the space for these policies to develop. Over the last five years, I have read countless Fabian pamphlets with ideas which if enacted would transform the lives of millions. 

My hope for the next few years is that we continue to provide Keir Starmer's Labour Party with the winning policies he needs to transform our country for the better. At times our systems and our priorities may seem more gradual than under the previous management. But in a world in which the Tories are willing to throw away so much of what makes this country great, defending what we have achieved and fighting for a better future is a radical act. 


Dr Martin Edobor is the Clinical Director for North Newham Primary Care Network and Chair of the Fabian Society. He was the Labour PPC for Witham in 2019 and is the former Chair of the Young Fabians (2015-2016). He Tweets at @martinedobor.

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