In Wales, co-operatives and co-operation hold the key to challenge some of the everyday sense of powerlessness felt by many across the country.
Of course, this sense of powerlessness can be seen within EU referendum results but it is also well demonstrated by recent UK wide polling which shows that 59 per cent of people say they have no control over the economy. This rises to 62 per cent for lack of influence over business (YouGov Feb 2016) and 68 per cent of people in work feeling they have no control in their workplace (YouGov Feb 2016).
The Co-operative movement in Wales is made up of the doers – those who run the local credit union, staff the community transport schemes or run the community shares project. They are people who actively get involved and show by example that co-operatives offer an important way of doing business and community.
The Welsh Co-operative Party has been standing candidates for elections in Wales for a hundred years. We in Wales have a fantastic record of promoting, developing and delivering co-operative and mutual solutions. Whether it be new co-operative homes being built, financial support for vital credit unions or groundbreaking Commissions led by the Welsh Assembly Government.
Being blessed with this legacy does not mean the job to develop Wales as the first co-operative nation is complete. The upcoming local elections will provide a new crop of Co-operative & Labour candidates and sitting councilors who, will, if elected or re-elected, push for even more.
Deeply embedded in the co-operative philosophy is the idea that ordinary people should have a voice in the day-to-day running of businesses, councils and the institutions which we depend upon. In a world where it increasingly seems to be ‘us vs them’, the co-operative model allows people to take control. The work of the wider co-operative movement provides an inspiring example to how things can be different – how employees and customers are able to influence the decisions often taken on their behalf rather than with them.
The Welsh Co-operative Party will continue to shine a light on the movements work and the Government’s commitment. However, locally among much more we will using the principles set out by the Fair Tax Mark Campaign push for tax transparency and justice within public procurement. We will continue to work to ensure employees and passengers have a real say over local transport services and develop fairer access to credit for communities across Wales.
In this case, democracy goes far beyond the ballot box.
Caitlin Prowle – Campaigns Officer, Welsh Co-operative Party.