Our nation is at a crossroads.
The fundamentals upon which our economy and society have for so long been based are being contested. We are debating who we are as a nation and what we stand for.
This Plan for a Co-operative Britain offers a comprehensive vision for a co-operative Britain. It is clear that in the years ahead our country and economy will be radically changed. Arguably politics, and the decisions made by our elected representatives over the next few years, will have more influence over our lives than in many past General Elections, which is why it is so critical that our voice is heard.
Since the EU referendum result it has become something of a cliché for politicians to talk about how to respond to the sense of powerlessness felt by too many people. Turning this around is at the heart of why the Co-operative Party and the co-operative movement were created – to give power to ordinary people over the things that affect their daily lives.
The Co-operative movement shows that there is a better way of doing business and providing services. It offers vital lessons for how we can shape our country and its destiny together, more united and sharing power for common purpose.
We believe that a new and more co-operative Britain would not just be fairer, but it would be more productive and more resilient too, by drawing on the wisdom, strength and commitment of the many.
The Co-operative Party rejects the notion that for Britain to thrive, its growth will inevitably be generated by a handful of entrepreneurs overseas, or that wealth is inevitably concentrated in just one corner of the country. We will build a democratic economy which creates growth and jobs in every community, makes the most of the skills of all, and whose rewards are delivered fairly in every region of the UK.
Our inspiration comes not just from the hundreds of years of co-operation in the most established parts of our co-operative movement, but also from the emerging co-operative communities and organisations seeking a different way to solve the challenges we face today. Whether in social care, energy or protecting vital community assets, we know that services work best when shaped around the needs and experiences of those who rely on and work in them, and when they operate in their interests.
Co-operation, a global movement of more than a billion members, shows that our values and principles can support social justice both at home and abroad. Our commitment to Britain playing a positive and outward looking role in the world is undiminished.
This Plan has been derived from the experiences, ideas and passion of our members who have over the last few years put their time and effort in to the proposals we present today.
Like any co-operative, we would be nothing without them.