The Friends of the Co-operative Ideal is a group 41 Labour MPs and peers who are also members of the Co-operative Party.
The group supplements the 28 Co-op sponsored MPs and 12 Labour/Co-op members of the Lords who comprise the current Co-operative Parliamentary Group.
Mr Brown, the first Co-op Party member to serve as Prime Minister, supported the launch at 10 Downing Street with representatives of co-operative organisations from around the country.
The group will be expanded as soon as possible to include more MPs plus MSPs, Labour members of the Welsh Assembly and Greater London Assembly as well as Labour/Co-op councillors and Prospective Parliamentary Candidates.
The initiative was devised by Co-operative Party General Secretary Michael Stephenson with the full backing of the Party’s NEC and Mr Stephenson told the News the aim is to make the grouping as effective as possible and provide Party members with the right ammunition to be able to advance the co-operative agenda in many different spheres.
Gareth Thomas, Labour/Co-op MP for Harrow West and Co-op Party Chair, said the group would make the Co-op voice in Parliament even more important.
He said: “Labour/Co-op MPs have been responsible for some significant achievements in recent years including the most comprehensive review of legislation governing co-operatives — ensuring a level playing field for co-operatives — and providing reforms that saves the sector millions of pounds; Private Member’s Bills to end legislative obstacles facing the sector; the introduction of co-operative trust schools; NHS Foundation Trusts and the establishment of Supporters’ Direct.
“This group will allow other Labour MPs to campaign more effectively for the Movement and help achieve the changes that are most important to co-operatives.”
Membership of the group commits all members to the following pledge:
• I believe that the values of social justice, co-operation and mutuality have a crucial role to play in the future of the UK and the world;
• I support the efforts of those who seek success through co-operative endeavour and the creation of a just society through power being evenly spread throughout society;
• I believe that we can best achieve a just society through the co-operation of the Co-operative Party and the Labour Party;
• To this end I will work with the Co-operative Party to pursue mutual solutions to the challenges that our society faces.
The list of politicians who have committed to Friends of the Co-operative Ideal are:
Dr Doug Naysmith
Angela E Smith
Lord Hunt (Kingsneath)
Lord Hunt (Chesterton)