Co-operative Party members will meet up in Edinburgh to debate key policy issues at this year’s Annual Conference from 4-6 October.
The conference, themed “Stronger, together”, will highlight the importance of co-operation and mutuality as well as the shared values of the co-operative and labour movements.
Due to a new policy process, which replaced the previous system of motions, party councils and branches have had the chance to discuss issues throughout the year. These ideas were brought together in initial policy papers that were sent to parties for local debate and further submissions were invited.
Throughout the three-day conference delegates will look at the state of the British economy, by assessing the role of the co-operative sector in fighting recession and unemployment. Party members will also talk about co-operative housing, while calling for more support for co-operative-sponsored bills on housing reforms.
Delegates will also discuss a radical and co-operative alternative to child trust funds, which could be a grant given to young people to enable further study.
A motion also highlights that funding of the Party, which in the main is by retail co-operative societies, could be under threat by recent proposals to cap political donations. It suggests co-ops might want to follow the lead of trade unions, which will be bundling a series of individual payments from members.
Another motion also asks the Party to investigate the re-introduction of sponorship of Labour MEPs .
The conference will also touch on the challenges facing education, culture, media and sport. Fringe meetings will also be held in association with Supporters Direct, Lendwithcare, SERA, the Co-operative Education Trust and UK Society of Co-operative Studies.
Keynote speakers at the conference include Ed Balls, Labour/Co-operative MP and Shadow Chancellor; former cabinet Minister, Alistair Darling; Labour/Co-operative AM and Deputy Minister for Tackling Poverty, Vaughan Gething; International Co-operative Alliance President, Dame Pauline Green; Labour/Co-operative MP and Shadow Economic Secretary, Cathy Jamieson; Labour/Co-operative MSP and Leader of the Scottish Labour Party, Johann Lamont; and Shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy.
• Although the deadline for registering delegates has passed, visitors can still purchase tickets for £15. For more information on the conference, visit: www.party.coop/conference-2013