New members flock to Party

The Co-operative Party has reported a record increase in new members following Labour’s general election defeat in May.

A Party spokesman told the News that almost 500 new members had signed up in the three months since then — mainly online — and that the figure included a substantial number of returning members.

Said the spokesman: “The recruitment of young members continues to be very strong, with between a quarter and a half of new members joining each month being 30 or under. Following the general election, the number of new members joining the Party reached its highest level ever.”

The Party hope to take the total to the 1,000 mark as a result of two pending high profile events — the annual Summerfest weekend school at St Andrews in August and the party conference in Cardiff over the weekend of September 10th to 12th.

Despite the fact that Labour lost the election, there was positive news for Labour/Co-op candidates with the swing against Co-op nominees being far lower than suffered by those standing simply as Labour — 1.48 per cent compared to the Labour figure of five per cent.

Labour/Co-op MPs now comprise 11 per cent of the Parliamentary Labour Party, compared to eight per cent prior to May 6th, and Co-op Party membership in the House of Commons now stands at 133, which represents 51 per cent of the PLP.

However, although there are now eight women Labour/Co-op MPs at Westminster — one more than the total in the previous Parliament — there is some concern within the Party regarding the representation and involvement of women.

A summer newsletter published by the Party’s NEC said: “The low number of women representing the Co-operative Party at all political levels suggests there is a need for a strategic approach to ensure more women are encouraged, supported, selected and elected.”

A strategy meeting is to be held in November with the intention of increasing female participation and, in the meantime, a women’s network is being established to encourage women to become involved in the Party.

• For details of the Summerfest and annual conference visit or call 0207 3674150.

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