About the Party – The Co-operative Party

Who we are

As the political party of the co-operative movement, we work in partnership with the Labour Party to achieve these aims.

There are 26 Labour & Co-operative MPs in Westminster and representatives in devolved and local government across the UK. Together, we’re ensuring that co-operative and mutual values are at the heart of our politics.

Meet our team of MPs

What we’ve achieved

  • Protecting the consumer

    Labour and Co-operative MPs are responsible for most of the legislation underpinning consumer protection today including the 1968 Trade Descriptions Act.
  • Protecting the environment

    We were one of the early political voices for environmental protection and were responsible for the Farm and Garden Chemicals Act 1968 and the Clean Air Act 1968. Now we are championing community and renewable energy production.
  • Transformed co-operative and mutual law

    We secured the political support for the Co-operatives Commision, which resulted in the first wholesale transformation of co-operative and mutual law in a generation.
  • Secured financial support to grow the credit union movement

    We secured almost £100 million in support for credit unions, enabling them to expand and better serve their communities
  • Unlocking the power of fan ownership

    We worked to create Supporters’ Direct, which supports fans to collectively own their football clubs.
  • Helped found the co-operative schools movement

    We enabled the creation of co-operative schools trusts, with around 800 co-operative schools now open nationwide.
  • Supported Fair Trade

    We helped secure funding of £2 million per year for the Fairtrade Foundation, as well as 590 Fairtrade Town Halls.

What is a co-operative?

Co-operatives are businesses owned and run by their members. Whether those members are customers, employees or residents, all are given an equal say in what the business does and a fair share in the profits. One billion people across the world are members of co-operatives.

The Co-operative Movement

Today, the co-operative movement is a significant part of the UK’s economy, growing by 21% to £33 billion, and outgrowing the economy as a whole during the recession. Across the country, 6,000 cooperatives have nearly 13 million members. Learn more about the co-operative movement

The Co-operative Party

The Co-operative Party was founded in 1917 to represent and defend the co-op movement, though our roots go back all the way to 1844 and the Rochdale Pioneers, the founders of the modern day Co-operative Movement. The Party has had an electoral agreement with the Labour Party since 1927, which enables us to stand joint candidates in elections. While there is an ideological connection, this relationship is also a strategic decision made by the co-operative movement to maximise our ability to influence policy and legislation that is rooted in co-operative values.
Co-operation is a theory of society and, therefore, a legitimate basis for a political party. If there is still any doubt as to the need for political action, this conference will settle that doubt. We have things to safeguard, things to stand for, things to achieve.
WT Allen, Chair Report of the Co-operative National Emergency Conference 1917
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Co-operators in politics

Kezia Dugdale

Leader, Scottish Labour Party

A.V. Alexander

One of the first Co-operative MPs elected in 1922

Pauline Green

President of International Co-operative Alliance and former MEP

Margaret Bondfield

Britain’s first female cabinet minister

Gareth Thomas

Chair of the Co-operative Party

Ted Graham

Member of House of Lords, Former National Secretary of Co-operative Party, and MP

Jim McMahon

MP for Oldham West & Royton and Founding Chair of Co-op Councils Network

Vaughan Gethingr

Welsh Assembly Member

Our vision

We’re working for a future built on sustainable businesses where power is shared evenly and people come before profits.

We think things work best when ordinary people have a voice, which is why the Co-operative Party was created by co-operative societies and businesses almost 100 years ago. Since then, the Party has served as a political voice to protect consumers and level the playing field for co-operatives. We’re working to mobilise political support for our vision of a better future, starting with making Britain’s economy and public services work for the people who use them.

We’re still pioneers

We’re laying the groundwork that will enable the next generation of co-ops to grow and thrive.

Data co-ops

Fans’ trusts

Schools

Worker co-ops

Childcare

Transport

Homes

Clean energy

A co-operative agenda for Britain

Supporting the Co-op Economy

When established as genuine mutuals, public assets are locked into community ownership

Reforming markets

Large private and public sector organisations that affect our lives are no longer being run in our interests

People-powered public services

Long-term sustainable budget savings can only be made if we rethink and reform public services

Creating a fairer world

Co-operation between nations has never been more important