THE Prime Minister has praised the contribution and input of the Co-op Party and the Movement to Government thinking and says co-operative principles are as relevant today as they have ever been.
Addressing a Downing Street reception organised to mark the launch of a year of events and activities aimed at celebrating the Co-op Party's 90th anniversary, Tony Blair said the Co-op Party and Movement is involved in every aspect of work the Government is trying to do.
Citing foundation hospitals and social enterprises in particular, Mr Blair commented: "There's not a single sphere where there's not a co-operative presence and voice. Co-operative principles are in line with today's progressive values. The whole purpose is of people being stronger. We can achieve much more together."
Mr Blair congratulated Labour/Co-op MP and former minister Alun Michael on the "tremendous" work he is doing to promote the Co-operative Party in its 90th anniversary year and said while the Party was entitled to look back on 90 years of solid achievement, the ongoing input of the Party and Movement was vital to Labour as well.
Mr Blair also saluted Tadessse Meskela, who, he said, had done amazing work in trying to get a fair deal for Ethiopian coffee farmers and had demonstrated what co-operative principles can achieve.
Concluding his remarks, Mr Blair said the Downing Street event was an opportunity to celebrate the Co-op Party's 90th anniversary and thank everyone for their contribution.
Mr Michael thanked the Prime Minister for supporting the Party and Movement and said Co-op values now permeate Government thinking to the extent that co-operation has become Labour's new Clause Four. He went on to praise the "inspired leadership" of Co-op Party Chair Gareth Thomas and General Secretary Peter Hunt and said that the vitality of the Co-operative Movement would be demonstrated in the next 12 months through a succession of topics and events.
"Co-operation is the political principle for the 21st century," declared Mr Michael. "We are looking forward, not back."