Frequently Asked Questions – Co-operative Party

What is the Co-operative Party?

The Co-operative Party is a political party. We stand candidates at elections at all levels of government – including local councillors, metro mayors, MPs, Members of Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly Members. We have 25 MPs – making us the 4th largest party in Parliament. We also have over 900 councillors all across Britain.

Wait, you have 25 MPs? 900 councillors? How haven’t I heard of you?

Since 1927, we have had an electoral agreement with Labour, meaning we only stand Labour and Co-operative joint candidates. Some ‘Co-operators’ you might recognise are Labour Party Chair Anneliese Dodds MP, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham or the campaigning MP Stella Creasy.

Our candidates come from across the broad church of the Labour Party, united by their belief in the co-operative values of sharing wealth and power. Co-op MPs have served on every Cabinet and Shadow Cabinet for a generation.

Isn’t the Co-op a supermarket?

We aren’t the same as the supermarket – but interestingly they played a role in starting the Party over a century ago and continue to support us. Like the Labour Party was founded by the trade union movement, we were founded in 1917 by the co-operative movement – who wanted representation and to defend itself against a government dominated by private business interests.

Co‑operative principles don't stop at the shopfront. As co-operators, we believe that the principles that lie behind successful co‑operatives – democratic control by customers and workers, and a fair share of the wealth we create together – ought to extend to the wider economy and our society.

So what’s a co-operative then?

A co-operative is a business – but instead of being owned by private shareholders it is owned and run jointly by its members. Members might be employees, customers, or members of the local community. Consumers owning the shops they buy from. Parents who run their own nursery. Fans who own their local football club. Each member, regardless of their stake, has an equal vote, and decisions are made democratically.

What does the Co-operative Party stand for?

We believe in an economy where wealth and power are shared. This means a radical shake up of the way our economy functions and how it shares its rewards. We think that workers, not private shareholders, should own the businesses they work in – so that they have a vote on how it is run and a share in its profits.

Our values and principles – like democracy, equality and community – shape our policies. Our policy platform includes:

  • Rebalance Britain's economy by doubling the size of the co-operative sector
  • Tackling the climate emergency with a Co-operative Green New Dea
  • lntroducing a Right to Food so nobody goes hungry
  • Taking utilities like water and energy into democratic public ownership
  • A new law to protect public-facing workers like retail workers from violence
  • Supporting fan-owned football clubs
  • Expanding community energy

What if I’m already a supporter or member of the Labour Party? Why should I support the Co-operative Party as well?

This is an exciting time for the Co-operative Party. Last year, the Co-operative Party was the fastest growing Party in the UK. In the May 2021 elections, we elected a record number of Councillors, Mayors, MSs, MSPs and London Assembly members – winning seats from Chipping Norton to Preston and from the Welsh valleys to the Scottish Highlands.

In a time of increasing polarisation and ill-will in politics, co-operators are getting stuck in and transforming communities from the bottom up. If you’re looking for a radical, practical political movement with ideas and energy – that’s us. Working in partnership, the Co-op Party and the Labour Party are bringing together the best of our practical traditions of co-operation and trade unionism to change Britain for the better.

And what if I don’t support the Labour Party at all?

The Co-operative Party is an independent political party with our own NEC, membership and policy platform. We’re a grassroots party that is making change on the ground all over the country, running successful campaigns on everything from safer shopworkers to food justice at local, regional and national levels.

You don’t need to support or be a member of the Labour Party to be a supporter or member of the Co-operative Party.  However, because of our electoral agreement, you cannot join the Co-operative Party if you are a member of a political party other than the Labour Party or SDLP.

Okay, I’m on board – how can I keep supporting your campaigns?

The best way of keeping up to date with our campaigns is to sign up to our email updates. You can do that here.

If you’d like to financially support our amazing campaigns by becoming a member, you can join now from just £2.20 a month. You’ll be part of a movement with historic roots, be able to join to local parties, and have an opportunity to shape the national agenda through campaigns and success in the wider Labour movement.