Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has sent an email to Co-op Party members, and to subscribers to its newsletter, highlighting the longstanding relationship between the two parties.
The Co-operative Party has had an electoral pact with the Labour Party since 1927, which sees candidates selected by members of both parties contest elections as Labour/Co-op candidates. Sir Keir, who took over the Labour leadership on 4 April, mentioned the two parties’ long history of working together, adding that he was a member of the Co-operative Party himself.
While Sir Keir is Labour MP, deputy leader Angela Rayner and shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds are Labour/Co-op MPs, along with several other members of the frontbench team.
“I’m proud that Labour and Co-operative MPs sit in the new shadow cabinet,” wrote Sir Keir. “Their ideas and contributions, and those of other Labour and Co-operative MPs, will be invaluable as we take on the task of leading our parties back into government.”
As a keynote speaker at last year’s Co-operative Party conference in Glasgow, Sir Keir said he joined the Labour and Co-operative movement because of its commitment to building a fairer future.
“I stand by that commitment as leader,” he wrote.
A former barrister, Sir Keir has served as MP for Holborn and St Pancras since 2015. In the run-up to the leadership election, he committed to expanding common ownership, including through co-operatives. He also expressed support for Labour’s plans to double the size of the co-operative sector, a pledge made by former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, and the call for a new Co-operative Development Agency.
His campaign manifesto praised co-operative councils piloting models of service-user or community control, giving the example of community wealth building in Preston or community energy co-ops in Plymouth. Other campaign commitments included introducing a public right to control unused buildings or community assets, and encouraging the creation of platform co-operatives to allow community led organisations to access public digital platforms.
The message to Co-op Party members added: “The result of this leadership election has come during difficult times, for our country and the world. The idea that by working collectively we can best solve the challenges we face, for the benefit of our whole society, is the belief that binds our parties together.
“The agreement between our parties has been invaluable in the past, and I value it just as much now. I look forward to working together, and to hearing the Co-operative Party’s important ideas on how we can make our country a better place.”