It was announced over the weekend that Labour MP and former Minister Rt. Hon. Malcolm Wicks has passed away. Malcolm, Member of Parliament for Croydon North since 1992, was a great friend and member of the Co-operative Party.

A Malcolm made his mark in his first term in Parliament, steering through the Carers Act as a private members’ bill while Labour was still in opposition. After 1997, Malcolm was a Select Committee Chair and a minister, notably as Energy Minister.

But it was following his departure from government, in 2008, that Malcolm made his most notable contribution to co-operative issues. Again ranked highly for a private members’ bill, Malcolm chose to work with the Co-operative Party, proposing the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies and Credit Unions Bill. This important piece of legislation modernised the law for mutuals, allowing co-ops to welcome under 16s into membership and liberalising the rules for credit union membership. Despite some hiccups featuring Conservative peers, the Bill eventually became an Act with the help of Co-operative peer Lord Tomlinson.

To further the progress of the Bill, Malcolm made important contributions to the general policy debate on co-operatives, including on this site. This thinking – which Malcolm called ‘the true Third Way’ – contributed to the ‘Mutual Moment’ and the great number of co-operative policies in Labour’s 2010 election manifesto.

Gareth Thomas MP, Chair of the Co-operative Party, said:

“Malcolm was a great supporter of the Co-op Party and a genuinely lovely man with it. A tremendous track record of working for social justice as a minister, an MP and above all as a Co-op and a Labour Party member I and many, many others will miss the friendship and comradeship he offerered.”

Martin Tiedemann, the Party’s Head of Communications, was a councillor in Malcolm’s constituency and Secretary of Croydon Co-operative Party for a number of years. He said:

“The dedication that Malcolm showed Croydon and the causes he fought for was second to none. Having joined his campaign team in the 1997 election as my first foray in politics, it was a pleasure to work with Malcolm in more recent years on co-operative legislation. Malcolm’s commitment was recognised locally all over Croydon; from his photo in the window of curry houses to the increased majority he received in the 2010 election.

“Malcolm has left a genuine legacy through his politics and his campaigning. I’ll miss Malcolm but I will continue to be inspired by him.”

Our thoughts go to Malcolm’s family and constituents.