Jeremy Corbyn’s victory: the Fabian Society responds

Andrew Harrop

The Fabian Society congratulates Jeremy Corbyn on a famous victory, which now gives him a mandate to test a different path for Labour. For the party to stay relevant and become electable he must seek out challenging new ideas, not hark back to the rigid certainties of the 1980s. Labour must face the future.

In a little over four months the mainstream of the Labour Party has suffered two extraordinary election defeats. In May it was rejected by the country, and today it has been spurned by its own members and supporters. All those in the Labour family who did not support Mr Corbyn must now reflect on these twin failures with humility and make a deep commitment to rebuild, reach out and reconnect.

But Mr Corbyn’s supporters should pause too, because every political movement needs a left, a middle and a right. Labour must remain a broad-church, welcoming of diverse points of view and open to everyone who is committed to a more equal Britain.

115 years ago the Fabian Society helped found the Labour Party to bring radical change to Britain. That is only possible when Labour is able to challenge the orthodoxy of the times, but also secure the democratic support of the British people and find practical answers that work. Principles are nothing without well-evidenced solutions. Ideological purity is nothing without power.

Members of the Fabian Society voted for all four Leadership candidates and we will continue to be a space for open-minded and comradely debate across the left. Our recent output contains a wealth of fresh thinking around which the whole party can unite. And today the Fabian Society launches a new programme, ‘Facing the Future’ which will help provide the ideas Labour needs for its renewal.

Through debate, publication and research we will bring together the broadest range of voices to challenge the Labour Party to do better for all those who need it most. This leadership contest has proved that the party needs a fundamental debate on its purpose, in our changed political and economic context. It must stay true to its enduring values, make itself relevant for the 2020s and broaden its appeal to people who rejected the party this year.

The Fabian Society has always been there for the Labour Party when the time has come to debate and renew. A Fabian authored the 1945 manifesto ‘let us face the future’ and the ideas of each Labour government were forged on the pages of Fabian pamphlets. Labour must face the future once again and the Fabian Society is here to make it happen.

Andrew Harrop is general secretary of the Fabian Society.

If you would like to learn more about the Society’s Facing the Future work, you can sign up to our mailing list here.


  1. Jim Butler-Daulby

    How gracious of you to you accept the public vote. As you state, keeping the Labour Party in line with the general consensus in order for it to return to ‘power’, has been the aim of the Fabians for generations. It would appear that the general (public) consensus is leaning towards the left. What’s ‘wrong’ is that the main power-base in this country rejects this shift. The ‘mainstream’, (corporates/wealthy), having control of the media, control the narrative. The Thatcherite TINA narrative is still in vogue and should be challenged as vocally and vociferously as possible. Neoliberalism is genuinely killing people and it should be the task of all of us on the left to unite against it and bring about the change necessary instead of gloomily and grudgingly accepting Corbyn’s victory.

  2. Brett Parker

    We need to stop excepting the Free Market narrative.
    Our society is held together by abstract ideas. Our ability to react and work collectively for abstract ideas is what makes us as a species work.
    Money, justice, corporations, politics are all just abstracts. Valuable but not inherently “made” of anything but our will to believe in them.
    This means they can be changed. They are not a given.
    They are reinforced by language and custom.
    All ready in such a short space of time we have adopted the word “Austerity” and everyone uses it with authority as though it is real.
    There is not such thing. It’s a cleverly constructed phrase designed to frighten.
    We need to change the word “Austerity ” to reflect what is really the issue, which is a distribution problem.
    We in the affluent West don’t lack wealth. We just gave a problem distributing it fairly.
    If we change the words we change the idea.
    Not austerity.. Distribution problem.
    Taxation = redistribution. A fair share

    The discussion and rhetoric needs to change to illustrate how redistribution can help everyone. (yes even the wealthy)

    Stop using Free Market Tory Language.

    • Con

      Ideological purity is nothing without power.

      But Power is nothing without empathy.

  3. kristian Roberts

    I have never really been into politics but since Jeremy has gone for leader I have been ignited with seeking further knowledge of politics. I now have hope for the social good and hand on heart I think we can kick them out of Westminster.

  4. Julie Whiston

    While I acknowledges that both Jeremy Corbyn and Liz Kendall are legitimate members of the Labour party I voted for the two mainstream Democratic Socialist candidates. So am a bit depressed at the moment!

    We need to face up to the fact that Crosland’s nostrum that Conservative governments do not fundamentally reverse Labour governments changes to society has gone into reverse.

    I hope that the Fabien society’s facing the future programme will be genuinely revisionist and focus on the means for the realising of socialist ends in our contemporary society.

    I hope that it will not be a political marketing exercise seeking to offer tactical advice to the Labour leadership, nor something that lists social trends and outlines how we might accommodate to them almost inevitably further retreating from our Democratic Socialist ends in the process.

    it should seek to develop a coherent post industrial strategy for equality encompassing pre distribution , redistribution, decommodifcation and greater equality of assets and opportunity rather than seek to set one off against the other.

    We urgently need to renew the welfare state and through this not only more effectively tackle poverty, but seek to develop a politics of common security, where the politics of welfare are again about US rather then THEM .

    It should seek to address the productivity conundrum, the long term underlying driver of our living standards. We should look at how we can enable / intervene to secure higher levels of business investment which are low by international standards. Promote sectors of the economy that generate decently paying jobs in all areas of the UK. We need to ensure that both business and the public sector makes better use of human capital in light of the criminal under employment of the UK graduate workforce. It having been recently shown that barely half of graduates are currently employed in work requiring graduate level skills.

    We urgently need to address the future of the union and develop a co-determation approach to the governance of the nations of the UK, as an alternative to ceding ever greater powers to the different parliaments of the UK to the point that the union is reduced to little more than a common foreign and defence policy .

    We need to develop a new detailed Labour agenda on education rather than respond to or accommodate too the agenda that will be pursued by the conservatives.

    This should evolve, looking at the pursue of education ie promoting personal autonomy, promoting the capability to lean throughout life, Cultural literacy, effective democratic citizenship and the equipping people for the workplace of the future.

    The means we need to explore to pursue these aims include promoting the parity of vocational and academic education, placing a common framework of democratic accountability around all schools that receive state funding ensuring that all schools are comprehensive in both intake and curriculum . whilst also allowing each school a significant degree of independence in its day to day management. Of course we need to design new mechanisms to fund education fairly at all levels ( needs based funding, support for both further and higher education, graduate tax etc).

    This is why I am a Fabien. I support the gradual transformation of the basic instructions of society so that they as far as possible mirror Democratic Socialist values I hope that the Fabien Facing The Future program can be the start of our fight back against the Tories, the far left and the muddled centre.

    Good Look. Thank you for continuing to strive for the good society.

  5. Clive Osborne

    I’m keen to get a deeper insight into how socialists. An work together to defeat this current government – the work you do seems to be invaluable in this

  6. Lucy Addington

    Retired, with a background in Education, Community work and parenting. Consider it very important to learn more about the Fabian Society Facing the future work.

  7. Paul Waterhouse

    I joined after the 1992 election, I did rather get caught up in New Labour, I’m more active now I’ve recently retired, would like to be involved in this discussion because I feel it’s important that we challenge the Tories in their home ground and inspire Voters if we’re going to have a Labour Government. Don’t have a Web site, and live in central London.

  8. Mike Smith

    The scale of Corbyn’s victory means that whoever considers themselves defeated surely can’t be in the Labour “mainstream.”

    • Ed

      Absolutely, Mike. I think it’s about time that those in the ‘mainstream’ realised just how far adrift they have swum and made a little more of an effort to catch up with the vast majority…

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