General Secretary Michael Stephenson said the big three-day event will emphasise the Party’s value to the Movement around the country and expose what he calls the coalition Government’s “fair weather commitment to co-operatives”.
He told the News: “Last year, the Party conference was in Edinburgh; this year we have chosen Cardiff because we believe next year’s elections in Scotland and Wales, together with the local elections, are crucial opportunities for the Movement to be heard.
“We will be launching our manifesto for the 2011 Welsh election campaign during the weekend and will hear from Carwyn Jones about the potential for co-operatives in the future work of the Welsh Assembly.”
Mr Stephenson said the Party would also be announcing developments regarding its Co-operative Councils initiative involving more than 100 Labour groups in local authorities around the country.
“Those councils are signed up to the values of the Movement and we will talking about bold new plans to put those values into practice,” he said.
In a change to the previous conference format, the Q&A session with MPs, MSPs and AMs will be incorporated into the main programme and a number of fringe events are planned, including a meeting of the Party’s BAME Network; a discussion on health issues; a workshop with the Party Support Unit and an event with SERA (Labour’s Environment Campaign).
“All of our speakers will be addressing the challenges the Co-operative Movement faces, particularly the betrayal by the ConDem Coalition Government which has dumped the commitment to re-mutualise Northern Rock and axed Labour’s programme to help communities buy their local pubs,” added Mr Stephenson.
“The fair-weather commitment to co-operatives by the Tories and LibDems is being exposed with every passing day, so the Co-operative Party will continue to take up the challenge of being the true advocate of the Movement at all levels of government, as we have done since 1917.”