We in the co-operative movement know what a force for good our sector can be in addressing the challenges our economy faces, from rising inequality to falling productivity. That’s why I am immensely proud to be the first Co-operative Party Shadow Secretary of State for Business and Industrial Strategy.

I’m ambitious for our sector, and I’m proud that it’s an ambition our sister party shares. The Labour Party has previously committed to work with our movement to double the size of the co-operative sector, and I am keen to see this supported again. Of course, my aim is to become the first Co-operative Party Business Secretary and the most co-operatively minded holder ever of that post.

In my view, a problem with British economic policy is that it’s always searching for a magic bullet: the super-deduction capital allowance, miracle tax cuts, leaving the Single Market. It just doesn’t work like that. What it requires is a long-term industrial strategy – which we have launched. It needs more, not less, ambition on net zero. It means fixing the flaws in the Brexit deal. It will take big boosts to R&D investment, reform of business rates, and the minimum wage becoming a real living wage.

I believe another key element is the incentivisation of diverse ownership structures, and a look at corporate governance and taxation to incentivise long term prosperity over shorter-term concerns. The nature of UK capitalism, and ownership of a lot of public companies, has changed a lot in recent years. In itself, it’s a fascinating subject. But a vibrant co-operative sector is clearly a major part of how we make this change to long-term success. It is why we have specifically referred to co-operatives within Labour’s industrial strategy.

To me, it is surprising that despite governance and regulation of other business forms falling within the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, responsibility for co-operatives lies with the Treasury. In some ways it’s no wonder that too often the needs and interests of our movement fall between the cracks of government departmental responsibility. We must ensure that the machinery of government is right for co-operative growth.

In doing so, we can begin to level the playing field for our movement, ensuring full consideration is given to the needs of co-operatives and the conditions they need to thrive. And as a Co-operative Secretary of State for Business and Industrial Strategy in a Labour government, under my responsibility I would help ensure our movement has everything it needs to fulfil its growth potential, and continue delivering in the interests of workers, consumers, local communities, the environment and our economy.

This article featured in the Spring/Summer 2023 addition of the Co-operative Party’s member magazine, the Pioneer.