What do we want to see in 2015 manifestos in support of co-operatives? In a word, recognition. Being in a manifesto is far more important than individual policy commitments. We want to position ourselves for the next five years, not few months, after the election.
The last election was the first time ever where all the three main parties included references to co-operatives. A great success, but only village shops, co-operative pubs and football cubs appeared in all three. The lesson for the co-operative movement is that it is not our size that impresses, but our ability to impact on the lives of ordinary voters.
So the Plunkett Foundation is already pushing all the parties to create an environment that is friendly towards communities trying to take control of the issues they face through co-operative action.
Each party has its own co-operative traditions and we will be working with, and challenging them, to ensure these are represented in the manifestos in ways that can help real people.
The message to all parties is that removing the barriers communities face, aligning programmes to ensure the right finance, legal frameworks, planning and local government support, together with a willingness to openly support co-operatives can all come together to inspire ordinary people to do extraordinary things.