Social justice is looking set to be a key talking point around this year’s general election.
The fall out from the 2008 financial crisis is becoming much clearer now with, for example, the decreasing reliance on the state and the increasing use of food banks.
Politically, politicians are pushing the social agenda, which could be just an excuse to focus on cost-savings through spinning out public services or borne out of a desire to create a better world.
At a political party level, the Green Party has shifted its focus over the years from an environmental stance to one of the wider social justice, while Labour has shown more interest in people power as a solution for better business and communities. The mutual agenda has likewise been pushed by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats through the coalition government.
We have yet to see the manifestos on how, and indeed if, co-operation will be a part of the plan for social action in a future government. But the planned television debates and Q&As with political party leaders will provide an opportunity to question future policies.
This election is also the first time a coherent and sole ‘social justice’ strategy has been communicated through the Social Economy Alliance. A single voice has arguably helped communicate the message of a rounded social economy; a space where both social enterprises and co-operatives can co-exist.
The co-operative movement has its fair share of examples of co-operation working in communities. Take the co-op cluster in Hulme for example. This edition looks at how an eco-system is developing in what was once one of the most deprived areas in Europe. With a housing co-operative, co-working spaces and urban agriculture land, this is where co-operation meets modern needs.
One of the biggest damages of the financial crisis, was the downturn in the economy of Greece and its massive debts. In 2011, the Greek government recognised the value of the co-operative model in passing legislation that helped create over 400 new businesses.
The newly-formed Syriza government coalition of the radical left is drawing heavily on co-op inspiration as an answer for growth. In this issue, we look at the Greek crisis from an academic point of view, and give an overview of the new government’s co-op agenda.
Progress from the Greek government over the next year will hopefully provide a blueprint for true co-operative legislation, which the next British government can learn from. And if there’s any justice, co-operation will be recognised across government for its ability to build a better world.