Socialist society (Labour Party)
The best-known and oldest socialist society is the Fabian Society, founded in 1884, some years before the creation of the Labour Party itself (in which the Society participated). The Society's membership is relatively small (around 7000) but it exerts much influence in Labour circles. The Co-operative Party is not strictly a "socialist society" in the context of the Labour Party. It is in fact a separate political party with an electoral agreement with the Labour Party. It acts as a socialist society for the most part although it has certain additional rights.
Affiliation means that the socialist societies - like a number of British trade unions - pay an affiliation fee to the Labour Party, and the affiliates' members become affiliated members of the Labour Party (a different status from full member), unless they specifically choose otherwise. In return the societies receive a formal role in Labour decision-making, and the affiliated members can take part in all-member ballots in certain circumstances. For example, they can participate in the election of Labour Party leaders and deputy leaders, have delegates and votes at Annual Conference.
Socialist societies also elect a delegate (currently James Asser) to the Labour National Executive Committee and can affiliate at a local level to Constituency Labour Parties. A second seat was allotted to BAME Labour in early 2007, when its membership rose above 2,500. The Socialist Societies also elect three representatives to the National Policy Forum, currently Emma Burnell, Ash McGregor and Melanie Smallman. Since the 2011 refounding Labour process seats on the NPF have also been allocated to LGBT Labour and the Disability Labour.
The socialist societies are also involved in the Labour Party's policy reviews.
The work of the Socialist Societies is co-ordinated by the Socialist Societies Executive. This is a regular meeting of the chairs and key officers of all the societies to share ideas and co-ordinate work. These meetings also co-ordinate regular meetings with senior Labour Party officials and MPs.
As a collective the societies try to co-ordinate campaigning work and hold a joint event at Labour Party conference.
A small groups of officers are elected to co-ordinate this work. The current committee is:
- Chair – Catherine Atkinson (Society of Labour Lawyers)
- Vice-chair (Development) – Vacant
- Vice-chair (Policy) – Ash McGregor (Chinese for Labour)
- Secretary – Heather Staff (Christians on the Left)
- Treasurer – Martin Dore (Socialist Educational Association)
There are 21 affiliated socialist societies:
- Black, Asian Minority Ethnic Labour (BAME Labour) (formerly Labour Party Black Sections and Black Socialist Society)
- Chinese for Labour
- Christians on the Left (formerly The Christian Socialist Movement)
- Disability Labour (formerly Labour Party Disabled Members Group)
- Fabian Society
- Jewish Labour Movement, (formerly Poale Zion)
- Labour Animal Welfare Society
- Labour Business (formerly Labour Finance and Industry Group)
- Labour Campaign for International Development
- Labour Campaign for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (LGBT Labour)
- Labour Housing Group
- Labour Movement for Europe
- Labour Party Irish Society
- Labour Students
- Labour Women's Network
- National Union of Labour and Socialist Clubs
- Scientists for Labour
- Socialist Educational Association
- Socialist Environment and Resources Association (SERA)
- Socialist Health Association
- Society of Labour Lawyers
There are other organisations, such as Labour Arts Alliance, Muslims for Labour and Labour Humanists, which are not formally affiliated to the Labour Party but act as campaign groups for Labour Party members in the same way as the affiliates but have yet to apply for affiliation or have decided not to do so.
Young Labour unlike Labour Students is not a Socialist Society and retains a separate place within the Labour Party.