Meet the Exec - Chair & Vice Chair

In our first instalment of the ‘Meet the Exec 21/22’ blog series, get to know the new Chair and Vice Chair of the Young Fabians, Laura Cunliffe-Hall and James Potts. 

Laura Cunliffe-Hall - Chair

How did you first get involved in politics?

I’ve always been fascinated by politics from a young age. This is perhaps unsurprising as a ‘90s baby growing up under New Labour in Dover (a ’97 red gain), I saw the difference a Labour government could make in a town like Dover, and later, the damage a Conservative government can inflict on local communities by underfunding and undermining them.

I’m also a firm believer that politics can and should be for everyone.

When I started working in communications, focusing on regeneration and economic development, going out and talking to people across the country, from Canvey Island, to Boston, to Edinburgh and to Brent, it made me realise that as Jo Cox so famously said, we really do have far more in common than that which divides us. People are the experts on their communities and the issues that shape their daily lives and helping make their lives better is what politics is all about.

Strong communications is essential in politics, and working closely with communities reminds me constantly of the power of using your voice and standing up for what you believe in.

What made you join and get involved with the Young Fabians?

For years I’ve followed the research outputs and admired the work of the Fabian Society and Young Fabians, but I first got actively involved in early 2019 after attending the incredible launch event for the Environment Network in Parliament.

Then in 2020 I became Communications Officer for the Environment Network where I co-authored a pamphlet on ‘Accountability for the Climate Crisis ahead of COP26’ and hosted events with Seema Malhotra, Cllr Tom Hayes and the Mayor of Hackney Phil Glanville.

I was then elected to the Executive Committee last year as the YF Communications Officer, helping to generate memorable and engaging content, establish a partnership with Labour in Communications, further our outreach and professionalise our social and digital channels.  

Joining YF has been the most incredible experience – I’ve learned so much and made some incredible mates all across the UK. It also made me realise that getting into politics isn’t and shouldn’t be ‘scary’.

Being a Young Fabian is all about being able to share ideas and work together in the best interests of the Left, in an inclusive, non-factional and vibrant environment

What are your aims for the year ahead in your position?

  •  Supporting our fantastic Exec team
  • Contributing to the Labour manifesto for the next General Election through detailed policy discussions and events
  • Putting members forward to publicise our policy contributions & amplify YF voices
  • Making sure we provide new opportunities to get involved
  • Focusing on political education through YF Academy
  • Keeping our comms channels active
  • Working together with our networks, advocacy and regional groups to empower all YF members  

If you were Prime Minister for one day, what would you do?

My focuses would be on ensuring we accelerate ambitious climate policies to get us to net zero by 2030 in the aftermath of COP26 and do more to decarbonise our homes and build safe and affordable homes to alleviate our housing crisis.

I would also work with incredible campaigner and Manchester United legend Marcus Rashford on rolling out free school meals so no children in our country are going hungry.

I’d also reform the Ministry of Defence to become the Ministry of Defence and Artificial Intelligence to ensure we’d be adequately prepared to keep people safe against the unknown threats of the future.

Finally, on a lighter note, I would spend some quality time with Larry (the Downing Street cat) and ensure we had a very cute photoshoot.

If you had to be stranded on a desert island with a Labour MP, who would it be and why?

Luke Pollard, because he’s been Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and also Shadow Minister for Fisheries, Flooding and Water so he would know a lot of useful information that would help us survive on the island. Also I’ve hosted an ‘in conversation’ event with him and he is just fantastic and would provide some much needed good vibes in a tricky situation!

Would you rather fight one horse sized duck or ten duck sized horses, and why?

I’m a pacifist so I’d try to negotiate them out of fighting me but probably ten duck sized horses because the thought of an over-sized duck is seriously chilling!

To get in touch with Laura, email [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @LauraHall1995.


James Potts - Vice Chair

How did you first get involved in politics?

I first got into politics when I got involved with my school council back home in Wolverhampton. I ended up being on the council for the seven years I was at the school and was made Chair in Year 9. As Chair, I brought benches to the playground, reformed the council and introduced a new sixth form uniform. All of this showed me the change that can be achieved when you get involved and work with others. 

What made you join and get involved with the Young Fabians?

I joined the Young Fabians not long after I moved to London in 2015, so I’ve been a member for 6 years. I’ve loved getting stuck into policy issues which makes a nice change from the campaigning focus of the Labour Party. I decided to get more involved in 2019 when I became Chair of the Devolution & Local Government Network, helping to publish our report on Metro Mayors which had most of the Labour mayors/candidates at the launch.

In the last year I was Treasurer, helping to simplify the Friends of the Young Fabians donation scheme and secured a number of new donors which has helped put us on a firmer financial footing. Plus, I tidied up our finances and brought in hundreds of pounds of donations.

Plus I’ve also made lots and lots of very good friends over the years, some are no longer active but will hopefully be friends for life, so I’m so glad I got active in the first place!

What are your aims for the year ahead in your position?

My plan this year as Vice-Chair is to carry on the YF Academy. It was a great initiative from last year as one of the best things about YF is the opportunities we give members, whether that’s through writing for Antics or one of pamphlets, the Academy gave us a new angle to train our members in the skills they need to be good policy makers and I’m keen to keep that going. 

Additionally, I want to continue to support the Friends of the Young Fabians and be there to support Laura as Chair but also everyone on the Exec. We have a great team and it’s vital we are there to support each other.

I will also continue to make YF a safe and welcoming place for activists across the country. We need the best ideas to get into government and young people are full of them so let us harness that!

If you were Prime Minister for one day, what would you do?

I’m a huge transport nerd, so I would reverse the Beeching cuts from the 1960s and build HS2 and HS3 in full. I would also devolve more powers and funding to the Metro Mayors and start the biggest house building programme possible. Plus, I would introduce more bank holidays because that was an excellent policy.

If you had to be stranded on a desert island with a Labour MP, who would it be and why?

I’m a big fan of Bambos Charalambous and he is such a character. I’d choose him as he is currently Shadow Immigration Minister and that knowledge will help should we ever get rescued and need help in getting back home!

Would you rather fight one horse sized duck or ten duck sized horses, and why?

Has to be ten duck sized horses, surely? The duck’s beak would be more dangerous than ten smaller horses!

If you want to get in touch with James, just email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @JamesPotts.

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