Meet the Exec – Regions and Nations Officer and Deputy Regions and Nations Officer

Continuing our Meet the Exec series, get to know George Fairhurst, our Nations and Regions Officer, and Owen Michael, our Deputy Nations and Regions Officer.

George Fairhurst

Tell us about yourself and your role:

Hi, I’m George, the new Regions and Nations Officer for the YF Exec! 

The Regions and Nations Officer is the person who is responsible for making sure that you, our Young Fabian Members, are getting their worth out of being a Young Fabian, be they in Wakefield or Wandsworth. As part of the Young Fabians decentralisation project, there are now regional steering groups set up to launch political activities within all parts of the UK. My job is to make sure that these committees have the capacity to organise, the necessary support from the main executive and pretty much everything in between. 

I also carry out the role of co-secretary! I share this with Cathleen Clarke. What this means in practice is that I am responsible for the IT side of things; so Nationbuilder, the website and anything between really! 

In contrast, I am far less exciting than my role. A lifelong Yorkshireman, I have found myself inexplicably dragged from sunny Wakefield to London as I forge my career in the Civil Service. My favourite sport is ice hockey, my favourite comedy is I’m Alan Partridge and my favourite Prime Minister is Harold “the winner” Wilson. 

What's your first political memory?

My first political memory set the tone really, it was the 2010 election. I was too young to really understand what the election meant, my family being politically un-talkative and generally uninterested. I spent May 2010 trying to make sense of who Brown was or what a hung Parliament was. I do vividly remember that the supermarkets had Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Labour themed crisps. 

I think that aftermath was more important, the coalition that formed after this confusing time. There were days of anxiety of whether Mum would still have a job due to the cuts; the mess of the academisation of my high school and the Council announcing the closure of park utilities due to lack of funds. These memories drive my politics more than I care to admit, just this sense that the system was letting my family and Wakefield down.

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

I wish I had joined because this society holds the flame for a grand tradition, or that I had joined because Young Fabians are always the nicest people. I joined because I was scrounging freebies in Brighton in 2019, fuelled on four hours of sleep and a lack of funds for breakfast. Ben Cooper, now a researcher for the Fabians, was manning the stall and had a half hour talk about the general state of politics in autumn 2019. I left feeling good for venting my despair, and for the free bag and notebook. 

I got more involved because six months later, Adam Alnutt asked me if I wanted to run an event on the state of politics in Leeds. This would germinate into the first regional group, with me at the head despite my inexperience. That sent me down the path that has led me here: three years of active membership whilst I graduated, went through a few dark places and finally grew up. I think my life trajectory changed the day Adam Twitter messaged me asking if I would be interested.

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

Goal 1. Every regional group to have an executive through the upcoming AGMs, with an event in the pipeline for the upcoming year.

Goal 2. Campaign, Campaign, Campaign. Outside of London, every part of England is going to be holding council elections. Our members need to play their part by getting outside the M25 to link up with our regional groups. I want to make sure that our regional groups can facilitate this. 

Goal 3. Socials. Regional days, such as the wonderful Yorkshire Day and hitherto unknown Lancashire Day are perfect examples of days when our regional members can do something outside of a panel event or book discussion. I really liked the 2021 YF Picnic idea and would be keen to replicate something similar.  

If you could write and implement one law, what would it be?

I would implement the reversal of the Beeching cuts, which would come with secondary legislation that Beeching’s proposals for improved bus services be enacted three years after passage. The early 1960s are essentially the UK’s version of Woodrow Wilson: you can trace nearly everything wrong with today back to them. What was the last book you read?

I recently read The King of the North by Max Adams, a history of Oswald of Northumbria. He is the figure Tolkien based Aragon on when he penned the Lord of the Rings, and from an era I think is generally overlooked by history. 

However, to be very cheeky, I’ll also mention the last fiction I read was Don Quixote, which was just brilliant. 400 years old and still funny yet endearing!

Finally, the most important question – dogs or cats?

Dogs. I used to get my best ideas walking with my dog Dexter at 10pm in those long summer evenings back in Yorkshire, taking in the summer night and having adventures through abandoned mining paths: you simply can’t do that with a cat!

You can contact George via [email protected]


Owen Michael

Tell us about yourself and your role:

I work in data analysis in local government and I’m also active in UNISON. Being based near Manchester (and previously in North Wales) I’m really passionate about Young Fabians going beyond London and as Deputy Nations and Regions Officer I’ll be working with George to ensure we have active groups all over the country.

What's your first political memory?

Either the fall of IDS or the fox hunting ban I think? I was a weird child, but I was from a political family and then really started getting involved seeing the damage the Cameron government was doing.

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

There was a year whilst I was at uni when the then-Chair was also at Manchester and encouraged Labour people to join, as did my friend Mo Ahmed. I'd read the magazine and stuff but never got round to going into any events in London - then in 2019 I went to the Young European Socialists Summer Camp and started getting to know people and getting properly involved. Then that went into over drive with lockdown and not having much else to do and everything being on Zoom and I haven't looked back!

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

Helping revive activity in our regional groups beyond London so we're a truly national organisation and people in future don't have to go to Bulgaria to get involved.

If you could write and implement one law, what would it be?

I’d reform our industrial system to move us towards sectoral bargaining and a Ghent model with unions also administering welfare. This would improve practical implementation of workers’ rights by encouraging union membership and also ensure the proceeds of growth are shared.

What was the last book you read?

“Would Democratic Socialism Be Better” by Lane Kenworthy. One of the most thorough explorations of how the economy could work differently I've read, both bringing together ideas that have already been implemented in some countries and how a country could go beyond, even if I disagree with some of its conclusions.

Finally, the most important question – dogs or cats?

Tough one. A friendly dog can be better at cheering you up but I relate more to cats.

You can contact Owen via [email protected]

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