In 1974, socialist businessman Michael Lipman established The Lipman Trust, a progressive charity whose mission was to help support the practice and dissemination of socialist education and research, an area routinely discriminated against by other charities or official sources.
The Trust’s first director was socialist intellectual and leading architect of the New Left, Professor Ralph Miliband, who chaired the Trust until his death in 1994. Miliband’s international reputation as an innovatory Marxist scholar, enhanced through his involvement with The Socialist Register, which he co-founded with socialist historian John Saville in 1964, brought the Trust’s open and generous approach to the attention of thousands of potential fund seekers. In June 1995, Miliband’s work for the Trust and his lifelong commitment to socialism were posthumously acknowledged when the Trustees renamed the Trust, the ‘Lipman-Miliband Trust’.
In the same year, the Ralph Miliband Memorial Appeal was launched to raise more financial resources for the Trust. The response was overwhelming and enabled us in 1997 to award a one-off prize of £3000 in honour of John Saville’s outstanding contribution to social, economic and diplomatic history. The John Saville Award was granted to Dr Janaki Nair of the Madras Institute of Development Studies, for a documentary film on the community work and culure in the Kolar Gold fields of South India. In 1998, we went one step further with our special Social Justice Award of £6000 for a piece of accessible research or policy work that contributed towards the development of socialist alternatives in public policy; won by Melissa Benn, Robin Blackburn, Joan Smith and John Pierson.
Today, the Trust continues to play a vital role as one of the very few charities able to respond to the needs of those engaged in socialist education. We encourage new work within this broad field, taking into consideration new areas of cultural and political work in institutions of learning but also in community organisations and among NGOs. It is both a sign of hope and a cause for dismay that the call on the Trust’s funds has always outstripped its limited resources.