Yesterday evening, Seema Malhotra joined a rally at Labour Connected, this year’s virtual party conference. The event, ‘Festival of Fabians’, was a celebration of the Fabian Society, which Malhotra affirms is taking a lead in Labour and left politics. See the MP’s speech below.
“Thank you Andrew and it is a great pleasure to be here at the Fabian Rally at Labour Connected.
I want to congratulate the Young Fabians and the FWN on all their success this year. As a former editor of Anticipations and Chair of the YFs, my experiences in the Young Fabians were where I built my political networks and which undoubtedly gave me the confidence to one day stand for office.
I was going to say that none of the early Fabians could have imagined a virtual, digital rally like this…
…but actually an early Fabian EM Forster wrote a short story called The Machine Stops where everyone lives in remote pods linked by telescreens – an spooky prediction of life in lockdown…
But seriously, the second best decision I made in my political life – after joining the Labour Party, was joining the Fabian Society.
Because it is the hotbed of political thinking, debate and political education.
I learnt more through a lifetime of Fabian events than I probably did in University.
And I have no doubt that in this next period ahead as we rethink questions of social and economic policy, that Fabian debates will be at the heart of new ideas in the Labour Party including around jobs, social reform and the future of work.
The Fabian Society is more than a think tank.
It is also is a political family, welcoming new members, opening the doors to its history and encouraging members to be part of its future.
To share in its values, its culture of inclusion and impatience for change.
The Fabian Society is the perfect balance of passion and reason – the Fabianism of evidence, facts, reports.
The power of reason is why Fabians published Facts for Socialists leading up to the Labour victory in 1945 – providing socialists with the information, to win the arguments.
That’s why Fabians created the London School of Economics (LSE) and the New Statesman magazine. to create a new generation of economists, sociologists, and political scientists,
But our Reason is powered by passion and by purpose
For 136 years we Fabians have demonstrated our rejection of poverty, our revulsion at injustice and our passion for progress.
Progress for men and for women.
We saw the leading role that the first Fabian Women’s Group played in the fight for women’s suffrage.
Indeed, the role of women in the Fabian Society has always been part of a bigger picture.
That Fabians led by Beatrice Webb produced the Minority Report to the Poor Law Commission, sounding the death knell for Victorian paternalism and helping to herald a welfare state based on the idea of social justice for all.
Fabians invented the idea of a National Health Service.
We championed comprehensive education.
We pioneered the idea of a United Nations.
And today we fight for jobs, for a Green Industrial Revolution,
for a decent NHS,
for improved mental health services,
for world-class education for all
and a roof over everyone’s heads.
The Fabian Society is the powerhouse of progressive ideas, and our contribution to the twentieth century was unmatched.
Fabian women have written pamphlets on child labour, on school nurseries, on women’s health and on equal pay, all decades before governments have taken action.
And when we founded the Fabian Women’s Network 15 years ago this year, I never imagined how it would be so strong today.
So I’m so proud of Ivana, Sara, Christine and so many who have taken the mantel of the Fabian Women’s Network.
And as we see today the gender inequalities so deep – on equal pay, on equal pensions, the Covid economic inequalities that see women and part time workers with their incomes cut more than others. As Angela Rayner said on Saturday, we have a gender pay gap because we have a gender Power gap.
It is our task to win the battle of ideas.
It is our task to help win the arguments in public.
I know we have a lot to do
I know we are the people to do it, because we know that post COVID, people want a better, safer and more equal world.
And today, together, we put down markers for the journey ahead.”