Labour propose co-op ideas across a new government

Labour hopes to clinch another term of Government with an assortment of co-op-centric policies in its 'A Future Fair for All' manifesto.

Proposals from Labour cover all sections of its manifesto including housing, public services, the financial sector, health and community involvement.

As previously reported, Labour is backing the mutualisation of British Waterways, but it has also given a firm commitment for Northern Rock to be turned into a mutual and for English Heritage to follow the same model.

The manifesto also commited to providing parents with a voice for control of their child’s future by turning Sure Start Children’s Centres into a network of locally-accountable mutuals and a Labour government would continue with the support of co-operative trust schools — of which there are currently more than 50.

For the NHS, Labour said it would continue with the transformation of hospitals to foundation trusts run by stakeholders in the community and is aiming for public membership to reach three million. It also said staff across the NHS would received support to run their own services in the not-for-profit sector.

Football clubs, pubs, shops and local energy projects are other areas that Labour has pledged to support through the co-operative model. 

Internationally, Labour has put its support behind launching co-operative projects to fight poverty in developing countries and quadruple funding for fair and ethical trade.

The manifesto was co-ordinated by Ed Miliband, but has drawn on more than 20 policy ideas submitted by the Co-operative Party.

Michael Stephenson, Co-operative Party General Secretary, told the News: "Labour’s manifesto means that the choice at this election will be between a government committed to making ‘people power’ a reality in this country by harnessing the power of mutual self-help, and a Conservative Party that has repeatedly demonstrated it would encourage self-interest at the expense of the community.

"This is a manifesto that supports remutualising Northern Rock — as against the Tory plan for a quick-buck share-sale at taxpayers’ expense — supports more co-operative schools, co-operative Sure Start centres, co-operatively run housing trusts, co-operative schemes for cheap, green energy and gives a clear commitment to making every hospital a Foundation Trust with direct community involvement.

"This manifesto is about giving all of us the power to run our own lives through co-operation — through working together. It’s about giving more control of public services back to users — not only schools and hospitals, but canals and rivers through the mutualisation of British waterways, and the power for passengers to get themselves a better train service through government support for mutually-run trains. 

"It’s also about giving us all more power over our cultural institutions like English Heritage, the BBC, football clubs, and, if local people want to do it, giving them the power to run local leisure services and even the village pub.

"As the Prime Minister pledged earlier this year, co-operative and mutual ideals are an integral part of Labour’s manifesto platform for fairness and for change. This is the change that Britain really needs."

David Coulter, Deputy Chief Executive of Co-operatives UK, added: “Co-operatives UK welcomes the prominence that the Labour Party’s manifesto gives to co’operatives and mutuals. We think it is better to allow people to do things for themselves and therefore welcome the Labour Party’s restated commitment to mutualisation in pubs and football clubs, following our campaigns on these issues, and to opening up new possibilities for co-operative business such as rail operation.

"It is crucial that everybody — service users, employees and the local community — is considered when designing governance structures. For instance children’s centres work best when parents, teachers and local residents collaborate to give children a good start in life.

"Co-operatives have enormous potential to bring about a fairer society and the commitment across the manifesto to co-operatives and mutuals demonstrates that the Labour Party recognises this."

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