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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.
Following the announcement of Elizabeth Symons' resignation as General Secretary, the FDA National Executive interviewed several candidates to replace her and agreed to nominate Baume as her successor. However, former FDA member Tony Engel (who had not been interviewed) was also nominated as a candidate. In the subsequent ballot of the whole FDA membership, Baume was elected with 68% of the votes cast.
Jonathan Baume retired as FDA General Secretary in late 2012, and was succeeded by the then Deputy General Secretary, Dave Penman.
He has served on three Government advisory groups:
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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