In the next few months, Co-operative Party members have the opportunity to ensure that people-powered, co-operative solutions are at the heart of the 2015 election manifesto.

Karin Christiansen

After the collapse of the demutualised Northern Rock in 2007 and the following what turned out to be a long and deeply damaging global recession, many more people have come to believe  that business as usual is not an option.  They want to see policies which:

  • rebalance our economy away from an over-reliance on financial services,
  • tackle the unacceptable culture for executive pay unlinked to performance,
  • give effective support to business growth and entrepreneurialism outside London,
  • recognise that not just poverty but also inequalities – of income, wealth and power – demand urgent action.

Five years on  much has gone backwards rather than forward.  The Coalition Government is unwilling or unable to tackle the vested interests that preserve the status quo.  That is why they have failed to act to fix our broken energy market, or to act on low and shrinking incomes and job insecurity.  They do not seem to understand let alone care about the cost of living crisis which means stress and lost opportunity to millions of people.

And so it falls to Labour to develop an agenda for government post 2015 that can create an economy and a society that is fairer, more sustainable, more accountable and more co-operative.  Labour’s Policy Review, led by Jon Cruddas, and its National Policy Forum, chaired by Angela Eagle are reaching a crucial stage.

We have seen just this week radical new proposals from David Blunkett which will see a focus on schools co-operating rather than competing; with greater local accountability.  Something that the Co-operative Party has long advocated.  This followed the recent commitment that a future Labour Government would undertake a radical devolution of power to city regions for vital areas of government activity including the Work Programme, adult skills and housing.

In the next few months the Co-operative Party will continue to champion this kind of radical thinking.  We will feed in our own ideas on ways to put more power in the hands of consumers, tenants, passengers, patients and employees; and how to realise the potential of the growing social economy of social enterprises, co-operatives and other not-for-profit models.

Labour and Co-operative Party Members have the opportunity in the next few weeks to be part of shaping Labour’s manifesto.  Constituency Labour Parties have until the 13th June to submit amendments to the National Policy Forum documents and we would encourage as many of you as possible to get involved in this process.

The need for change is urgent.   As Ed Miliband has said, Britain can do better than this.