Let's make the Young Fabians
inclusive feminist controversial less London-centric campaigning

Hi, I'm Ben West, and I'm secretary of the Young Fabians. With our Party and country divided, we need a place where young people from across the Labour family can come together and debate ideas in an inclusive, thoughful way.

The Young Fabians can be that place. But we need to open up.

Whether open days packed with dozens of new members, thriving networks or a new website and email comms, this year we’ve come along way. I’m standing for committee again this year because we need to go further: being less London-centric and properly listening to our female members, and putting systems in place so our growing organisation runs smoothly.

Here are some of my ideas.

Read my ideas for YF

My vision for the Young Fabians

Creating a safe space

  • Improving representation of BAME, gender, disability and social class in everything we do.
  • A designated Welfare Officer on the Exec, who we will pay to have CRB checked and to undergo training in welfare and safeguarding.
  • Training for both female and male members on creating a gender-positive environment
  • Overhauling our internal complaints and disputes procedure, drawing on the expertise of colleagues in Fabian Women's Network, BAME Labour, Jewish Labour Movement and other representative groups.
  • Confidential feedback and evaluation forms available at every event

Opening up

  • Producing a short 'New members guide' to be sent to all new members, explaining how we work and how to get involved.
  • Running 4 'Open Day' events each year for new and existing members
  • Establish a travel fund of £1k per year, available for individual members or groups of members to apply for individual research projects or as bursaries for delegations. This fund will be administered externally.

Becoming less London-centric

  • A funding pot of at least £1000 allocated to support regional events and activity; with a fair and transparent process through which any member outside of London can apply.
  • Working with senior section and existing regional groups to create a clear framework for setting up and running regional Young Fabian groups.
  • Producing a 'how to' guide for starting and running a new Young Fabian group.
  • Providing training for all networks and exec members in how to record, film and live stream events.
  • Regular live speaker Q&As and discussions via Google Hangouts

Campaigning and influencing the debate

  • Run a ‘campaigns research’ programme, consisting of training, campaign days, as well as research into new campaigning techniques being trialled within the Party and by parties abroad.
  • A new 'publications committee' to agree research priorities for the coming year, and to hear pitches from individual members and networks for new research projects and publications.
  • Build on member feedback by running a series of events and projects on national identity, devolution and Brexit.

Strengthening our policy networks

  • Working with Network Chairs to improve communication and to develop a framework that clarifies the rights and responsibilities of networks within YF.
  • Creating a funding pot of at least £1000 per year to support network activity, which networks can bid for.
  • A designated Exec member responsible for communication between the Exec and the Networks
  • Continuing to develop the Young Fabian's relationship with Young European Socialists (YES), and opening up opportunities for the whole membership to get involved in YES activities.

Expanding our audience

  • Overhauling the digital presence of our Anticipations magazine, with articles going online straightaway while they're still fresh, with the printed magazine containing highlights of our online content.
  • Allocating budget to promoting published articles and content online, via Facebook and Twitter advertising.
  • Continuing the work of overhauling our website and the blog so we can compete with the best online newspapers and magazines, with photographic, video and other types of non-text content.

Getting our house in order

  • Continue to make a profit on the Annual Boat Party, while running at least one additional fundraising event each year, with an overall fundraising target of £2000.
  • As Exec members, set out a clear number of individual goals, responsibilities and commitments for the year, which we will commit to reporting back on quarterly and holding each other to account.

What we've achieved so far

In the two years I've served on the Executive Committee, I'm proud of what we've achieved.
Here are some of my personal highlights

  • More of our members receiving and opening our emails than ever before
  • Introducing a new constitution to guarantee gender balance on the Exec and banning all-male panels
  • Organising both of this year's successful 'Open Day' events for new members
  • Co-ordinating the Young Fabians Defence project
  • Launching Young Fabian book groups, as a means for members to socialise and to get informal discussions of ideas going within the organisation
  • Running more than a dozen events, with speakers including Tessa Jowell, the Shadow Defence Secretary, and Tony Blair's former political advisor
  • Giving Exec members and Networks access to our email and social media for the first time - enabling us to run more than 100 events this year
  • Chairing this year's AGM
  • Organising campaign days in London and Birmingham during and after the EU Referendum campaign
  • Rebranding the organisation with a new strapline, visual identity, logos for networks and new roller banners for events

About me

Alongside my role on the Young Fabian National Exec for the past two years, my day job is Digital & Communications Officer at Labour's sister Party, the Co-operative Party. In my role I oversee the Party's digital and media activity, promoting the work of our team of 25 Labour & Co-operative MPs, and our policies and campaigns on housing, energy and transport.

Following a pre-university Interrail trip to Syria and Ukraine in 2008, I studied History and Politics at Oxford University.

Following University, I worked on Ed Miliband’s campaign for the Labour leadership before spending two and a half years in digital PR for campaigns and charities including the disability charity Scope and on the Olympic legacy. Last Summer, I worked on my second leadership campaign, this time as Head of Digital for Liz Kendall.

My political heros are FDR, George Orwell and Edmund Burke, I was born in Plymouth, was raised on a naval base in Alabama and occasionally dabble in the kitchen - I'm currently working to perfect my ribs, brisket and pulled pork recipes.

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