Under the Group’s newly-formed governance, the Party has so far faced an annual vote at the society’s annual meeting. While last year there was a very high-profile battle between the Group and the Party (mainly in the national press), the relationship appears to be more serene this time around.
Last year, the board remained neutral on whether to give any political donations, while the members’ council backed funding for the Party. This year, both the board and council support the motion to donate £625,600 to the Party.
The motion asks for £750,000 for political expenditure, with some funds set aside for “small donations to other political parties, campaigns and organisations,” according to a note in the Group’s annual meeting delegates pack.
Outside of the Group, the debate is much more fierce among individual members, with the focus being largely on value for money.
On one side of the debate, members suggest the £750,000 can be better spent connecting the Group to communities in other ways and to directly benefit co-operative development.
The other side looks at the value the Party brings to co-operation in general. One Co-operative Group member on Facebook suggested the value the Party brings should be compared to the cost of hiring lobbyists for co-ops in our national parliaments and regional/local governments.
Earlier this month, the Party showed some of its worth in the regional and local elections. Despite the troubles over the leadership election in the Welsh Assembly, the co-op voice takes 11 out of Labour’s 29 seats in the assembly. In Scotland, a third of elected candidates were Labour/Co-op (eight out of 24 MSPs). In local elections, 116 Labour/Co-op councillors were elected – that’s out of a total of 2,604 seats.
Clearly, there’s room for more representation in local councils. But in the London Assembly, there are 11 co-op representatives out of 25 members, which gives a significant voice over the coming term – plus the London mayor Sadiq Kahn has already given his backing to co-ops.
It’s up to the Co-operative Party to prove its worth – and members are rightly questioning the value they receive. But the Party is one of those bodies that is largely outside of the general public eye, and thus does not directly benefit Co-operative Group members.
But, what it does benefit is co-operation as a whole – which does (in)directly benefit members. And like Co-operatives UK, the Co-operative College and co-op development bodies – there are a number of organisations that form the bedrock of co-operation; they all deserve backing from the sector they support.
In this article
- Annual general meeting
- annual meeting
- co-operative development bodies
- CO-OPERATIVE Group
- Co-operative Party
- Co-operatives UK
- Labour Party
- London Assembly
- Sadiq Kahn
- The Co-operative
- The Co-operative Group
- Welsh Assembly
- United Kingdom
- Top Stories
- From the editor