Elected Co-operative representatives right across the country have been vital to our national effort in combatting the devastating effects of this pandemic. From local government to Westminster, from Wales to Scotland, right across the country they have continued to stand up for the communities they serve and champion the co-operative principles that hold so many of the answers to the challenges we face.
They have once again demonstrated the importance of ensuring co-operators are elected and able to put our values and ideas into practice at all levels, reiterating the founding and foremost principle of our proud party. Which is why, as we look to the fast-approaching elections later this year, it’s so important that we look to build on this work and make sure co-operators are elected across the country. The party is in a fantastic position to ensure that is the case.
We already have hundreds of Labour and Co-operative candidates standing for parish, district, county, unitary and metropolitan councils, ready to join 30 police and crime commissioner candidates in England and Wales. We have 17 London Assembly candidates, over 20 Scottish parliament candidates and 20 candidates for the Welsh parliament elections in which 16- and 17-year-olds will get to vote for the very first time.
With them, we have five metro mayor candidates, including Andy Burnham in Greater Manchester, Liam Byrne in West Midlands, Dr Nik Johnson in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, and both Tracy Brabin in West Yorkshire and Jessie Joe Jacobs in Tees Valley, who are set to make history as the first women to become metro mayors in the country.
But our success as a party and movement is more than just a numbers game. It’s vital that each of these candidates has the resources, tools, and support they need to be an effective representative of co-operation in their community. So over recent months, we’ve been making sure every candidate has the chance to do that.
We’ve launched our Co-operative candidate development programme, for instance, that provides a route to nomination for candidates in local government and provides each with vital support and associated training. Already, hundreds of candidates have passed through this programme and made use of the tailored assistance it offers with candidate training, regular coffee morning meetings, specific campaign sessions and much more.
They’ve been equipped with resources, such as joint Labour and Co-operative postal vote leaflets and digital content to help get the word out about what they stand for and how we can support them. Aside from the physical tools they need to be elected, in publications such as our 12 Ideas for Local Government manifestos, Co-operative Party Agenda for Wales and Five Ideas for Police and Crime Commissioner Manifestos, they have the blueprint of how we put our co-operative ideas and principles into practical solutions on the ground.
Whilst some uncertainty still exists about these elections, what isn’t in doubt is the opportunity they present for us to build on the platform of co-operation and make sure co-operators are elected at all levels across the country to continue making the difference to people’s lives we know our movement can. Now co-operation is on the ballot paper for the majority of the country this year, we’re in a great position to do just that.