Labour Calls on Members to ‘Keep It Co-op’

The Labour Party has called on its members to support the Co-operative Party’s ‘Keep it Co-op’ campaign, warning that its historic relationship with the co-op movement is under threat due to Co-operative Group proposals to break its political links.

keepitcoop-sharerThe Co-operative Group, which runs the Co-op supermarkets, is deciding whether to end its century-old political partnership with the Co-op Party at its annual general meeting on 16 May.

In response, the Co-operative Party, which is allied to the Labour Party, has launched the Keep it Co-op campaign, calling on the Co-op Group to retain its strong political voice, and stay true to the values and principles that have made it such an important presence in progressive politics for so long.

“We in the Labour movement have long had  a partner in the Co-op via our partnership with the Co-operative Party,” explained Labour general secretary Iain McNicol in an email to members this month.

“For almost a century, we’ve worked together to create a fairer society where power is more evenly shared. That partnership is now under threat and I’m asking you to join me in rallying around the new Keep it Co-op campaign.

“I believe that the Co-operative Group will be making an historic mistake if it breaks the link. Without the Co-op’s powerful voice, the Labour Party, British politics and our communities will be worse off.”

The Co-operative Group is Britain’s largest co-operative – making up some 85% of the co-operative retail sector – and one of the largest co-ops in the world. The Group currently has around eight million members who vote to elect its national membership council and board, and earn a share of the business profits – known as the dividend, or ‘divi’.

Each year the Co-operative Group, along with other co-operatives, pays a subscription to support the Co-op Party’s work. In the run up to the May’s AGM, the Group is asking its members whether to authorise the subscription and continue the 98-year partnership with the party.

Labour has joined the Co-op Party in calling for Co-op Group members to back the link, and support the Keep it Co-op campaign by registering on its website. Some 30 current Members of Parliament are Labour and Co-operative MPs.

“We believe the partnership with the Co-operative Party is vital if the Group wants to be at the heart of a co-operative resurgence,” says the Keep it Co-op  website. “We provide strategic political leadership and support, driving forward policy solutions, opening up new areas for the movement to expand into.

“The Co-operative Party is the guardian of the co-operative movement’s powerful values and inspiring vision, and a vital tool in achieving its profoundly political objectives.

“Our aim is to deepen and enhance the link so the Group and its members benefit, as well as society and our communities. We can create a stronger, more sustainable future together.”


You can sign up here to the Keep it Co-op campaign.

Read more about the Co-operative Group’s new governance structure here.

Read more about the Co-operative Party here.

See also: ‘Beware New Threat to the Co-op Party’ by Jack Street.