London Co-op Party sets out policy agenda in mayoral manifesto

The manifesto includes a series of co-operative-related policy asks

The Co-operative Party has revealed its key policy proposals ahead of the Mayoral and Greater London Authority (GLA) elections in May 2021 and local authority elections in 2022.

The Party launched its manifesto for the London Assembly and Mayoral elections via an online event this evening (11 February).

Titled Building Common Ground, the manifesto calls on the London Mayor to implement several co-operative policies. These include a Co-operative Commission, modelled on those in Wales and Greater Manchester, to identify barriers to the growth of the sector. The Party also wants a Co-operative Development Agency for the city, to foster the development of co-operative small businesses, credit unions, renters’ unions and supporters’ trusts.

The Party is also asking for a co-operative approach to public transport via a revitalised London Transport User Group, with all season ticket holders automatically made members. The group would have the right to elect a representative to the board of Transport for London. Other key asks are involving individuals and community groups in local strategic planning, and a Citizen’s Climate Assembly to sit in parallel with the upcoming UN Summit in Glasgow.

The Party also wants 16- and 17-year-olds to have the right to vote in London elections, (as they do in equivalent elections in Scotland and Wales), alongside an expansion in co-operative education.

Developed by Party members in London, the manifesto incorporates their ideas and experiences, as well as those of councillors and candidates working within local government, co-operative housing, healthcare, co-operative education and credit unions in the city.

The Co-operative Party has 2,552 members in Greater London, in addition to 268 councillors.

Ria Bernard, secretary of the London Co-operative Party, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic should leave no one in doubt that we are stronger, safer, and better off when we are united.  This will not be news to any of us in the co-operative movement, and we believe that co-operative values and principles are the foundations on which this common ground can be built.

“We are excited to launch a manifesto which will ensure the next Labour & Co-operative administration puts these ideas at the heart of how our city operates, including a Co-operative Commission and Co-operative Development Agency that will champion the expansion of consumer and worker co-ops, co-operative housing, and credit unions across our capital.”

Speaking at the launch event, Ben West, elected member of the London Executive Committee of the Co-op Party, said the manifesto aimed to build on the togetherness that emerged during the pandemic to build solidarity and common endeavour.

Sem Moema, Labour/Co-op councillor in the London borough of Hackney, added: “This manifesto is an opportunity for the co-operative movement to make a difference and add to the solutions London needs.”

Len Duvall, leader of the Labour Group in the London Assembly and chair of the London Labour Party from 2002-2019, thinks the manifesto is “a blueprint for a fairer and more equal society”.

He said: “The co-operative movement has a proud history in cultivating positive social change. This manifesto is routed firmly in the 21st century. Looking beyond the pandemic, this manifesto identifies the opportunity to create not just a new normal, but a better normal, based on a community-led process in which all Londoners can play a part.”

The Party is running 17 joint Labour & Co-operative London Assembly candidates in May.