Who supports the Co-operative Party?
Last year, the Party received over £1m from mostly retail co-operatives. Electoral Commission records show that during 2013, 27 donations were received with a total value of £1,063,597.
The largest part of this was from the Co-operative Group which gave £813,076. The second largest donation came from Midlands Co-op with £110,208, which is now Central England Co-operative following its merger with Anglia. (The Anglia society also donated £2,395 in 2013).
Other donations came from Midcounties (£47,705); East of England (£31,848); Scotmid (£31,592); and Chelmsford (£2,773). A non-cash donation for administration services of £24,000 was also received from Co-operatives UK.
These donations are shared between the national office, which in 2012 took roughly 70% of all donations. The remaining monies are distributed to local party councils.
From its individual member subscriptions, the Party received £146,641 – this amount is after these fees have been shared with local party councils.
Why do other co-operatives not support the Party?
At least two co-operatives have declared politically neutrality, and for this reason do not exclusively support any one political party.
For Lincolnshire Co-operative, which mainly trades in Conservative strongholds, its spokeswoman said the society is “supportive of the original co-operative principles of political and religious neutrality”. She added: “We work well with a range of campaigning groups, such as the local social justice group, and local councils and MPs of all political persuasions on issues that are of interest to co-operators.”
Southern Co-operative cancelled its subscription to the Party in 2011, after it paid £25,000 for the 2010 year. A spokeswoman for the co-operative said: “The Southern Co-operative is a politically neutral organisation. We believe it is important to build effective relationships with all the mainstream parties in the areas that we trade, proactively and constructively engaging with government on those issues that impact our businesses.
“We believe that this position is more appropriate, given the many different locations and social groupings represented amongst our 145,000 members, than forming allegiance with one party. The Southern Co-operative is a member of Co-operatives UK and actively supports the work that they carry out on our behalf in lobbying for legislative change which will benefit all co-operatives.”