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.