Sitting here in Co-operative Party Conference, it’s humbling to remember that we are part of a huge international movement. The co-operative movement is one of the largest organised segments of civil society with over 800 million members. Co-ops provide vital health, housing and banking services; they promote education and gender equality; they protect the environment and workers rights. They play a vital role in the empowerment of the economically disadvantaged.

Equality, as one of the seven co-operative values, has always been an integral part of what the Co-operative Party has stood for. This, however, has not automatically translated into diversity when it comes to active participation. One of the main factors behind this has been that in the past, the Party has been weak when it comes to communicating its message to a broad range of audiences. We have been good at communicating policies to those who are already Co-operative Party members, but what about the diverse communities which could really benefit from the workable co-op solutions that we have to offer within the co-operative movement?

With the renaissance that is taking place within the co-operative movement in general, over the last three years we in the Party have been working hard to raise the profile of the Party and talk to new audiences about our ideas and how they could work in communities around the UK. The economic crisis has made our politics become more relevant than ever in the UK and this has meant that more people want to hear about what we have to offer.

And there has been nothing short of a revolution in the youth wing of the Co-operative Party. With the help and support of local parties, members, the national Party and the wider movement, more time and resources have been invested in attracting new generation of co-operators. For the long term good of our party, it’s so important we remain relevant and appealing to co-operators of the present and future.

The Party has come a long way within a short space of time and it is encouraging to see at Annual Conference this year that we have more people from diverse backgrounds than ever.

But in order to take our work of transforming the Co-operative Party to a new level, we need to reach out to all those people who have been put off from joining the Party in the past, because they didn’t feel it was a party that represented them.

The Co-operative Party is based on what many across the Labour movement will share: a sense of fairness, individual empowerment and solidarity. Our ideas are routed in equality and our organisation is growing and diversifying as time goes on.

So if you’re reading this and you have thought about joining us in the past, why not take that next step and join? Everybody can help play their part in building the Co-operative Party’s bright and diverse future.

The Co-operative Party is launching its BAME Network at its Annual Conference this weekend in Edinburgh. For more on the Party’s work on building a diverse membership, email or

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