aerial view of city during dawn
Photo by Giammarco Boscaro on Unsplash

Earlier this month, we launched our London Co-operative Manifesto with Len Duvall AM, leader of the GLA Labour Group; Labour & Co-operative GLA Candidate, Cllr Sem Moema; and Executive Committee member, Ben West. At the launch and subsequent branch meetings, we have spoken to hundreds of members about the co-operative solutions and priorities critical to our post-COVID recovery.

The pandemic has brought about novel challenges but it has cruelly deepened divisions and exacerbated inequalities that already existed. Families forced to turn to food banks, parents worried about their jobs and financial security, children’s mental health affected by the uncertainty created through school closures and the persistent worries about the virus, and families enduring the loss of loved ones.

Within this manifesto, the London Co-operative Party has put forward the pragmatic ideas and policies to help heal the divides within the capital through an emphasis on common decency and ultimately by building common ground. This Manifesto is the culmination of contributions from our delegates, branches and members over the past year, and as a Party Council we’re delighted to share it with the broader movement.

Building Common Ground calls for greater participation, direct democratic control over key services, and a major expansion of the co-operative sector in the City. The Manifesto is organised around six core themes, and each chapter sets out ways in which we can apply co-operative solutions to the many challenges Londoners face. We call for passenger oversight of bus and Underground services via a revitalised London Transport User Group, in which all season ticket holders would automatically become members. The group would have the right to elect a representative to the board of Transport for London. We have specified the need for more opportunities to actively participate in shaping local strategic planning, and calls for a Citizen’s Climate Assembly to sit in parallel with the upcoming UN Summit in Glasgow. Alongside an expansion in co-operative education, we recommend giving 16- and 17-year-olds the right to vote in London elections (as they do in equivalent elections in Scotland and Wales).

At the heart of the Manifesto, we call for a Co-operative Commission for London, similar to those set up in Wales and Manchester, as proposed by Seema Malhotra MP in her recent report. From this work, we would hope to see the creation of a London-wide Co-operative Development Agency that provides the resources and tools to expand the co-operative sector in London; fostering the development of co-operative small businesses, credit unions, renters’ unions and supporters trusts across the City.

In May, there will be 17 Labour and Co-operative candidates on the ballot – this manifesto sets out what a Labour & Co-operative Assembly can achieve. We all know that our shared co-operative principles and values offer unique solutions to a fairer, more equal society and we look forward to working with our Labour & Co-operative colleagues and representatives to achieve this shared goal.

You can read the full manifesto here. And don’t worry if you missed the launch – there will be plenty of opportunities to hear more and discuss the ideas within the manifesto in the coming months. We’ll be getting in touch with members soon about the events we’ve got lined up for each chapter – so keep an eye out for the dates! In the meantime, we look forward to joining you on the (virtual) campaign trail to make sure our excellent Labour & Co-operative candidates are elected in May.

This article has been co-authored by Ria Bernard, Joe Simpson, Ben West and Ian Adderley from the London Co-operative Party Executive Committee.