Update: Annual Conference 2020

Issy Oozerally
For attention of:
14th July 2020
Last updated:
17th July 2020
10th December 2023
Other formats:

OWNING THE FUTURE: Update on plans for this year's virtual Annual Conference

Saturday 10 to Saturday 17 October 2020

Annual Conference is the Co-operative Party’s showcase of co-operative politics and will – for the first time – be held virtually and Live streamed via a specially-built bespoke conferencing website.  It will focus on themes raised in the recent Owning the Future report and the Co-operative Party’s vision for economic and social recovery as we come out of lockdown.

Key aspects of this will include:

  • A series of leading Labour & Co‑operative keynote speakers and players from co‑operative and socialist movements, as well as the chance to take part in interactive policy discussions and panel debates.
  • Interactive participatory Fringe workshops held throughout the week – in association with our partner organisations – providing more information and support for the Party’s ongoing campaigning programme.
  • Sessions held by our BAME, (Dis)Ability, LGBT+, Youth and Women’s Networks on a series of themes that really matter in this period of uncertainty.
  • A detailed online calendar of all sessions with options to set reminders in your pc, laptop or smartphone.
  • The Annual General Meeting of Co-operative Party Ltd

There’ll be plenty of time for socialising and networking too – with the ability to catch up with like-minded co-operators online via an interactive ‘chat’ function and a Saturday evening Achievement Awards Ceremony followed by a Co-op Party Quiz or take part in a socially distanced ‘Watch’ party organised by your local branch.

Together, it adds up to the largest political online gathering of the year for the UK co‑operative movement.

Coronavirus has changed the ways we all live and work and the Party feels we can accurately reflect the look and feel of Conference using some of the conferencing technology we have all become used too during lockdown.   

We have a growing Party membership and this is our opportunity to share our ongoing work to a larger audience than we have been able to do before – from the comfort of your own home. 

Programme * (* this is subject to change)
Saturday 10 October 2020
Start: 10.30am

End: 2pm

  • Chairs introductory address
  • 3 Keynote Speakers
  • Owning the Future panel debate: a co-operative panel for economic recovery
  • Co-operative Party Achievement Awards Ceremony and online Co-op Quiz (from 7.30pm)
Sunday 11 October 2020
Start 10.30am

End 2pm

  • Keynote speaker
  • Owning the Future Policy consultation and debates on:
    • Connecting Communities
    •  Corporate Governance
  • Topical issues discussion (on themes proposed by membership)
Monday 12 October 2020
Start:  1pm & 6.30pm
  • 2 x hour-long interactive fringe workshops and/or Network discussions
Tuesday 13 October 2020
Start:  1pm & 6.30pm
  • 2 x hour-long interactive fringe workshops and/or Network discussions
Wednesday 14 October 2020
Start:  1pm & 6.30pm
  • 2 x hour-long interactive fringe workshops and/or Network discussions
Thursday 15 October 2020
Start:  1pm & 6.30pm
  • 2 x hour-long interactive fringe workshops and/or Network discussions
Friday 16 October 2020
Start:  1pm
  • Interactive fringe workshops and/or Network discussion
Saturday 17 October 2020
Start 10.30pm

End 1.30pm

  • Co-operative Party Limited Annual General Meeting
  • Interactive fringe workshops and/or Network discussion
  • Policy – the deadline to submit responses to the policy consultation was 14 June.  An document summarising this is being put together and will be made available to read via the Conference website in September.
  • Topical issues discussion – one session of Conference will be dedicated to topical issues that have arisen from the Covid-19 crisis and how co-operative values can be part of the solution. We want to hear from you – our members – on what really matters to you.  Please submit your ideas of themes to  The deadline has been extended to 15 August.
  • Achievement Awards – the deadline for nominations for recognition of achievement awards, has been extended to 15 August.  Complete the attached form:
  • Organisational motionsOrganisational motions can’t be debated at the on-line event so these will go directly to the NEC for consideration and action.  Please send these to Karen Wilkie, Board Secretary by Tuesday 1 September.
  • Party Meetings – do continue to hold Party Council meetings as usual by Zoom, WhatsApp (video conference calls) or WhyPay (telephone conference call) to discuss these.  If you need any help organising these or setting them up, please contact Shane Brogan at 
Annual General Meeting 

Tthe AGM of Co-operative Party Ltd that was planned to take place in Birmingham in June will now take place via Conference Live website on Saturday 17 October at 10.30am.  This is for members only.  

Social ‘Watch’ Parties

The chance to network and socialise with fellow co-operators has always been an important aspect of Annual Conference.  Despite the restrictions imposed by coronavirus, we hope our Party Councils and local branches will organise ‘Watch’ parties, to view the Annual Conference Live stream and enable people to get together, albeit it in a socially distanced manner.

These ‘Watch’ parties can be held in a village hall/or similar venue with a good wifi/internet connection.  You would need to arrange a large screen with a projector that can connects directly a laptop running the Conference Live stream.  It is important to consider accessibility when arranging this as well as some suitable access to refreshments and toilet facilities.  Any branch organising a ‘Watch’ party should follow appropriate government advice as to meeting in groups, and those attending should be given the option to wear masks – if they feel that is appropriate.   If you need any more advice or help setting this up – please contact

There are 3 different times you might want to consider holding a ‘Watch’ party:

Saturday 10th Oct 
  • 10-30 to 2pm Keynote speakers and ‘Owning the Future’ debate
  • 7pm to 9.30pm Virtual Presentation of Recognition of Achievement Awards plus Co-operative Party ‘pub-style’ Quiz
Sunday 11th Oct
  • 10.30am to 2pm Policy Debates and topical issue discussions.
Conference Arrangements Committee 

The Conference Arrangements Committee elected at Glasgow 2019 will serve for an additional year.  These are Lis Telcs – chair, Peter Smith, Stephen Powers, Theresa VaughanJean Nunn-Price (NEC representative) and Sabiha Shahzad (BAME observer) . 


We will make provisions for members who are deaf to take part. 

We are also considering ways to support members who do not have access to computers to participate.  Details will follow. 

Why have we made this change to a virtual Conference? 

We are unsure if social distancing guidelines will have been relaxed by the autumn to permit a Conference such as ours with 500+ attendees to go ahead. 

As Conference brings together members from across the UK it also poses a risk of spreading infection, and would likely exclude many people who may still be self-isolating. 

Annual Conference is also the single biggest expenditure for the Party nationally and for party councils. Many event insurance policies, including ours, will not cover the cancellation of events due to Covid-19. That means if we didn’t cancel the Conference venue until later in the year, it would not be possible for us to secure a partial refund of the costs incurred. 

By cancelling the physical element of Conference now, we are able to reduce the financial loss that the Party will incur. Importantly though it gives us time to focus on developing a new type of Conference, that will be accessible to more people and ensure everyone can take part safely. 

If the guidelines are relaxed by October, we hope to be able to organise local events that bring together members in smaller groups to take part in the Conference. We’ll also be looking for your ideas on the type of conference you would like to see. 

Action Points
  • Update your members
    Let your members know about plans to hold a virtual Co-op Party Annual Conference. (More)
  • Propose a topical issue for discussion
    Email or meet with members for their ideas for topical issues arising from Covid-19 that really matter to them
  • Achievement award
    Propose a co-operator for a recognition of achievement award (More)
For more information

Issy Oozeerally

Events Officer