Co-operative Party Founded

was established at a special Co-operative Congress at Central Hall Westminster on 17-18 October.

Delegates from hundreds of co-op societies passed the resolution to establish ‘a co-operative political party’ and that the co-operative movement should enter ‘the political arena with a definite expression of its general policy of industrial, social, and economic reform’.

Sam Perry (father of Fred Perry) became the first National Secretary, serving until 1942.

1918 The Party's First MP

Alfred Waterson became the first Co-operative Party MP, elected in Kettering less than a year after the Party was established.

1927 Labour Electoral Agreement

was signed to formalise the relationship between the Co-operative Party and the Labour Party.

The National Agreement recognised both parties as independent and committed them to working together with jointly supported election candidates.

1939-45 The Second World War

the co-operative movement’s experience of the war was different to the that of the First World War.

With nine Co-operative MPs in Parliament and a much larger movement, co-operatives played a key role in feeding the nation during the war effort.

1961 The Party of the Consumer

In the 1960s and 70s the Party fulfilled its role as the voice of consumers and successfully brought legislation to protect consumers including Consumer Protection Act 1961, the Weights and easures Act 1962 and the Hire-Purchase Act 1964.

The Party also helped shape some of the first environmental protection including the Farm and Garden Chemicals Act 1968 and the Clean Air Act 1968.

1970 The World’s first disability legislation

Co-operative MP Alf Morris successfully passed the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970, the first in the world to give rights to people with disabilities.

1979 Credit unions win legal recognition

In May 1972 John Roper, the Co-operative MP for Farnworth, tabled a Private Members’ Bill in support of credit union legislation.

This was the first attempt to gain legislation for credit unions in Britain, but the Bill was defeated on a procedural matter. The Credit Unions Act was eventually passed in 1979 – one of the final laws passed by the outgoing Labour government.

1990 Pioneering Fairtrade

From the early 1990s, the co-operative movement championed Fairtrade, becoming the first major retailer to sell Fairtrade coffee.

Support from Co-operative MPs helped to secure funding of £2 million per year for the Fairtrade Foundation to promote and expand Fairtrade. More than 590 local councils declared themselves Fairtrade Town Halls, with Co-operative councillors leading the way.

2000 A Fresh Start

In 2000 co-operatives, led by the Party wrote to Prime Minister Tony Blair asking for “assistance in helping the further development and modernisation of the co-operative movement”.

The Co-operative Commission, formed in response, paved the way for a turnaround in the fortunes of the co-operative movement over the past decade.

Its key recommendation: highlighting the ‘co-operative difference’ has seen the movement make case for co-operation as an alternative to the economic and social status quo with renewed confidence.

2000 Football for Fans

The formation of the Premier League in 1992 and the resulting influx of TV money and private ownership in football saw the Game transformed forever. Many fans felt increasingly excluded and priced out of clubs that had previously been at the heart of local communities.

Set up with Co-operative Party support, from 2000 Supporters Direct has worked with supporters trusts (which are co-operatives) to secure a voice and ownership stake for football and rugby fans in their clubs.

2001 Co-operators return to power

At the 2001 election, a record 30 Co-operative MPs were returned and in 2007 Gordon Brown became the first Co-operative Party member to become Leader of the Labour Party, while Ed Balls becames the Party’s third ever cabinet member.

2006 Co-operative Schools

The 2006 Education Act, passed by Co-operative MP and Education Secretary Ed Balls, enabled the creation of a new type of state school – co-operative schools.

These schools are based around co-operative values and principles, which influence the ethos and culture of the school, and ensure the school is run as a partnership of students, staff, parents, and the wider community. Since 2006, more than 800 secondary and primary schools have become co-operative schools.

2008 Community energy

Amid growing public concern about climate change, the Labour & Co-operative government’s 2008 Energy Act introduced Feed in Tariffs (FiTs), guaranteeing small-scale renewable energy producers a fair price.

FiTs and other support encouraged the growth of a co-operatively-owned community energy sector, with local people working to generate and own their own wind and solar energy.

The Party has worked to support and nurture this growing part of the movement.

2008 Fighting for fair credit

Amid a squeeze on pay and living standards following the 2008 financial crisis, increasing numbers turned to borrowing from payday lenders to get by. A campaign led by the Party led to a crackdown on the exploitative practices of these lenders, and support for credit unions as a fair alternative.

One group affected were members of the armed forces and their families. Inspired by Navy Federal in the US (the World’s largest credit union), the Party built cross-party support and worked with the MoD to ensure access to credit union services for service personnel.

2015 Re-affirming our links with the Movement

Almost 98 years after it helped found the Party, members of the UK’s largest society the Co-operative Group vote to re-affirm their support for the Co-operative Party in its first all-member ballot.

2017 Pioneering the Future

The Co-operative Party marks its centenary with a modern high membership of more than 10,000 members and 200 local branches. The Party also has a record number of Welsh AMs, Scottish MPs and MPs in Westminster