Shadow Chancellor vows to promote Co-op values

New Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls says co-operative values will guide him in his new role as Labour’s leading spokesman on economic policy.

Mr Balls, Labour/Co-op MP for Morley & Outwood and Schools Secretary until the general election in May, was promoted to the key role following Alan Johnson’s surprise resignation for personal reasons.

A Labour leadership challenger in the summer, Mr Balls told the News: “I am proud to be a Labour/Co-op MP and the Movement’s values will continue to be at the forefront of the work I do as Shadow Chancellor.

“When I was a Treasury Minister in the previous Labour Government I introduced the biggest ever review of the regulations governing the co-operative and mutual sector. That played a big part in Labour’s achievement of putting co-ops and mutuals on a level playing field with other types of business.

“And when I was Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families I introduced Co-operative Trust Schools, one of the biggest and most important educational reforms the Movement has ever been involved in.”

Mr Balls said it is important people are aware of the huge differences between Labour’s co-operative agenda and what he called the Coalition’s “cynical exploitation” of the co-operative ideal.

“David Cameron’s Big Society is a Big Con,” said Mr Balls. “It is not based on the values of the Co-operative Movement and is simply a smokescreen for cuts and the wholesale withdrawal of government and the voluntary sector from public service provision

“In contrast, Labour has been the sister party of the Co-operative Party for more than 80 years. We have represented the Movement through thick and thin. Those shared values and our track record in government are a far cry from the eight months of political opportunism the Tories and Liberal Democrats have tried to pass off as a genuine commitment to co-operation and mutuality.”

Co-op Party General Secretary Michael Stephenson said he was delighted Mr Balls was  now in charge of such an important portfolio.

He said: “Ed is our most senior Labour and Co-operative MP and a tenacious and highly effective political advocate for the Movement. I can’t wait for him to get stuck into the Coalition and shatter the myth of their belated and phony conversion to the cause of co-operation and mutuality.”

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