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He was educated at Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Wakefield, and Keble College, Oxford (BA Hons 1974; MA). While at university, he was active in student politics as a member of the International Socialists and then the Trotskyist International Marxist Group, the British section of the Fourth International.
- Oxfordshire County Council, 1974–77
- Department of Employment Group, 1977–87
- Trades Union Congress (Organisation and Industrial Relations Department), 1987–89
- FDA: Assistant General Secretary, 1989–94; Deputy General Secretary, 1994–97
Following the announcement of Elizabeth Symons' resignation as General Secretary, the FDA National Executive interviewed several candidates to replace her and agreed to propose Baume as her successor. However, former FDA member Tony Engel (who had not been a candidate) demanded a ballot of the whole membership to decide between himself and Baume who then received 68% of the votes cast.
Jonathan Baume retired from the role of FDA General Secretary in late 2012.
He has served on three Government advisory groups:
- Ministerial Advisory Group on Openness in the Public Sector 1998–99
- Ministerial Advisory Group on Implementation of the Freedom of Information Act 2001–present
- Age Advisory Group, Department of Trade and Industry 2004–present
He is a member of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England and the National Trust, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. After suffering from back problems, he took up yoga. His other hobbies are jazz, world music and rambling. He is a member of the Athenaeum Club.
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