The Co-operative Party is a political party with around 9,000 members, all striving for social and economic equality via the means of co-operatives – an organisation ran by its members; these could be customers, staff, or the community. There are a range of co-operatives across the country, the most famous being the Co-operative Group, or as you may know them better, the Co-Op. The Co-operative Party has an agreement for candidates to stand under the banner of the Labour Party as ‘Labour Co-operative’. The most local example of this is Preston MP Mark Hendrick.
The theme of the 2016 Autumn Conference was ‘shared economy, shared power’, focusing upon policy that reinforces community engagement, creating stronger co-operatives, and finding solutions to current crises. The Conference heard from Members of Parliament, local councillors, members, and specialists. Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell spoke as a keynote speaker of the event and fraternal delegate from the Labour Party.
The Conference was based around a series of events including three policy forums which discussed ‘building a shared economy‘, ‘creating a more equal society‘, and ‘secure and confident communities‘. Each forum discussing subjects such as taxes, payday lenders, energy, transport, the economy, housing, health, Brexit, and much more. The conference was also filled with fringe events where small groups were able to discuss issues, ask questions to specialists, and plan campaigns about issues affect their local area or nationally.
If you’re still unsure on what a cooperative is then we can take a look at Britain’s train system. The railways were privatised in 1993 by Tory Prime Minister John Major’s Railways Act, and Labour fought the last General Election with a policy to allow the railways to re-enter State hands – page 26 of this document. The Co-Operative Party, however, take a different approach, with their 2015 Manifesto stating:
The government should legislate to enable a not-for-profit operator, run in adherence to co-operative principles, to be established on the railway. This would see a multi-stakeholder model representing employees, relevant communities and critically passengers being run in an innovative public sector model.
The Co-operative Party has 25 Members of Parliament, 14 Peers in the House of Lords, five Members of the London Assembly, 1,500 local government councillors, three Police and Crime Commissioners, 8 Members of the Scottish Parliament, and 11 Members of the Welsh Assembly.
To learn more about the Co-operative Party, go to www.party.coop