The role of women in the Co-operative Party is set to shape the future Cabinets of British government, according to the Co-operative Group's Len Wardle.
At the Co-operative Party's annual conference, Mr Wardle, Chair of the billion pound consumer co-operative, said that when Labour comes into Government it will easily populate the Cabinet with women and that “most of those women will come from the Co-op Party".
This is in stark contrast to the recent Government reshuffle, according to Mr Wardle who said the shortage of women was "a disgrace" and that the Cabinet is now "more right wing" with "fewer women and all white faces".
Mr Wardle thanked the Co-operative Party for choosing women as co-operative candidates and for working in constituencies to get them in Parliament. The recent appointment of Karin Christiansen as General-Secretary of the Party also sees a new era for the party. Speaking to Ms Christiansen, Mr Wardle said: “We are expecting you to raise the Co-op Party to glory – accept that challenge.”
In his speech to Co-operative Party delegates in Manchester, Mr Wardle continued to criticise the Government: “Where there is no vision, the people perish — this Government has no vision. Where are the big decisions? Nowhere — dithering, and sheer incompetence will see the UK economy shrink in 2012. Another double dip recession and so the people suffer.”
During the Party's opening session, Lucy Powell, who has recently been selected as the Labour/Co-op candidate for Central Manchester, welcomed members to the conference. Ms Powell, who could become the first female Labour/Co-op MP in Manchester Central in November's by-election, talked about the city's successful local co-operatives, specifically highlighting Eighth Day and Carbon Co-op.
She added that the economic crisis has led to a breakdown of democratic trust and there are public demands for alternative models and new ways of doing things.