The Pride Movement has blossomed over the last decade with even the more remote parts of the nation hosting their own annual Pride event. Accordingly Pride events provide a “not to be missed” opportunity for Labour and Co-operative to reach out to the public in a relaxed atmosphere.

Leicester Pride can trace its roots back to 2001. The Leicester Pride committee of 2001 asked me to become their legal advisor and to form a company limited by guarantee.  At the time I was serving as a Derby Area Board Director with the then newly formed Midlands Co-operative Society. The Pride committee readily agreed that Leicester Pride should have a clear political message and that I should explore the merits of  Midlands Co-operative Society providing sponsorship. Convincing some of my fellow Directors and the management of Midlands Co-operative Society that sponsorship made good commercial and political  sense wasn’t so easy!  After some deliberation the Society agreed and went on to become the lead sponsor of Leicester Pride. Sponsorship included funding a drinks on sale leaflet which presented Labour and Co-operative achievements for LGBT+ equality.

In 2023 I  took on the the role of LGBT+ Officer for Leicester South CLP. Accordingly I was seized with the responsibility of ensuring Labour would be adequately represented at Leicester Pride.

Any organisation,including LGBT+ Conservatives, can “Rainbow-wash” themselves to give the illusion of being both inclusive and LGBT+ friendly, but it’s only Labour and Co-operative which when in government can celebrate decades of bringing pro- LGTBT+ legislation to the statute book. Bearing in mind the ease of  institutional “Rainbow-washing” I decided it was time to create new Labour and Co-operative LGBT+ materials which focused less on rainbow and more on solid achievement.

The new materials, which have been funded by the Co-operative  Party are comprised of 1000 leaflets , a portable roller blind and a mesh banner each bearing the strap line “Nobody does it better”. The portable roller blind was designed to match the roller blinds we erected at Leicester Pride for Rory Palmer’s PCC campaign.

I developed a sense of déjà vu when I  approached Central England Co-operative with an invitation to co-operate at Leicester Pride!  My déjà vu was short lived and I am delighted to report that for the first time ever at a Pride event a retail co-operative has both marched and stood shoulder to shoulder with their political voice. Daniel Beers who is a Central Co-operative store manager and Lee Clarke who is a Central Co-operative Team Leader both deserve a special mention as they led the Central Co-operative  presence  at Leicester Pride and in addition they ensured all Central and Co-operative Group attendees were in a position to explain the link Co-operative retail has with the Labour and Co-operative Parties.

The Labour and Co-operative  gazebo was well attended and we had lots of conversations about the bedrock of Labour and Co-operative LGBT+ legislation and the fact the strife for equality is an ongoing struggle. Angharad Roberts who is the LGBT+ representative on the executive of East Midlands Labour helped me together with the staff of Central Co-operative to set up our gazebo. Angharad engaged members of the public with a series of questions which were set out on a chart. The questions were designed to spark conversations about the LGBT + achievements of Labour and Co-operative when in government. Rory Palmer and a large number of Labour Councilors both marched and attended the park.

Derby Pride took place on the 9th September at Markeaton Park. Labour in Derby have reported the “Nobody does it better” materials  proved to be a most effective tool when engaging with the public.

I am grateful to the Central England & Southern Co-operative Party for funding the new materials and give particular thanks to Brenda McCraith who convened the Executive Committee.