Pushing the Scottish Government to go further to support co-operatives

This week the Scottish Parliament examined the Scottish Government's plans to support co-operative and social enterprise in Scotland. So why does the paper fail to include any mention of the development body the scottish government established to do just that?

Richard McCready

Political Officer


This week Holyrood scrutinised the important role that the Scottish Government is able to play in the development of Social Enterprise and Co-operative endeavour in Scotland. Little wonder then, that Co-operative Party MSPs and Party members were pressing the case for more.

For example, Co-operative Party member Richard Leonard MSP, leading for Scottish Labour on the Economy and Fair Work, called for workers and local communities to have a statutory right – supported by resources from the Scottish Government – to bid for an industrial enterprise when it is put up for sale or faces takeover. 

Richard stated;

This Scottish version of the Italian Marcora Law, an industrial reform law, gives a route towards mainstreaming community and employee ownership of the Scottish economy.’

In addition, Johann Lamont MSP, Chair of the Scottish Co-operative Party MSP Group, managed to secure future ministerial engagement to discuss Scottish Government support for the co-operative sector.

One of the most notable aspects of the Scottish Government’s Social Enterprise strategy is that it talks about co-operatives, but fails to mention the Scottish Government’s own co-operative development body, Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS). Indeed, in her opening speech in the debate in the Scottish Parliament, the Cabinet secretary, Angela Constance failed to mention CDS at all – Johann Lamont rightly challenged the minister on this and has now been promised a ministerial meeting to discuss it further.

 Johann Lamont was expressing a widely-held concern that at a time when the Scottish Government is centralising control over Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and cutting the budget of Scottish Enterprise by a third, the Scottish Government’s third economic development body Co-operative Development Scotland seems to have been sidelined. Johann Lamont MSP said,

I am proud that the Scottish Labour & Co-operative-led Scottish Government established Co-operative Development Scotland, and I am greatly concerned that the visibility of valuable organisation is less than it was. Co-operative Development Scotland needs to be central to the Scottish Government’s thinking about Social Enterprises and the wider Scottish economy, and I will be looking for Angela Constance to reassure me that its future is secure.

Finally, Scottish Co-operative and Scottish Labour MSPs also voted for amendments which would have given more support to the co-operative sector. Unfortunately, the Scottish Government did not support these amendments.