This weekend hundreds of Co-operative Party members gather in Cardiff for our annual conference. Debates, rule changes, card votes, late night manoeuvres in the hotel bar, receptions and gala dinners we have it all. But above all, Co-operative Party members will be united in our belief that we achieve more by working together than we do alone, and that co-operative and mutual structures can build a fairer economy and better public services.
Since the launch of our comprehensive manifesto a year ago, much has happened in politics. The election saw 28 Labour & Co-operative Members of Parliament elected, with several new figures like Tom Greatrex and Stella Creasy joining longer serving parliamentarians like Louise Ellman and Ed Balls. Our Parliamentary Group of MPs and Peers is the largest it has ever been. Labour’s manifesto was the most co-operative ever, whilst the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives too put forward co-op ideas, only to ditch them one by one as they entered government, behind the convenient façade of the Big Society.
Our theme this year is co-operation at all levels, reflecting our campaign to take co-op ideas beyond Westminster to all tiers of government. Cardiff will see the launch of our manifesto for the Welsh Assembly elections next year. Scotland too sees elections, and we’ll be hearing from both campaigns. And the hundreds of co-operative councillors up and down the country will have a voice too, as we look at the exciting ideas from Labour Lambeth’s Co-operative Council and other Labour authorities like Liverpool, Greenwich and Stevenage. The contenders to be Labour’s candidate for Mayor of London will be telling us what they plan for co-ops too.
For the second year in a row, we are partnering with LabourList for our Conference weekend. From tomorrow, we’ll share with you the best from Co-op Party Conference, with contributions from some of our keynote speakers including Harriet Harman and Tessa Jowell; new co-operative ideas from our activists; and a flavour of what our members are campaigning for. We’ll look at how co-operative issues have been visible in the leadership election and how they can help Labour win again.
Whether you’re joining us in Cardiff, on Twitter via #CoopParty or through our contributions on LabourList, I hope you enjoy Co-operative Party Conference this weekend.