2014-01-15 Yorkshire Co-operative Party Council Appeal to Co-operators

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Yorkshire Co-operative Party Council Appeal to Co-operators

Whether you work in worker co-operative producing energy, food or any other goods for sale, or work in co-operative retail distribution, or are a member of such organisations as an investor or consumer, you are a co-operator.

You may not think of yourself as a co-operator because your organization has no affiliation to Co-operatives UK or Co-operatives Yorkshire and Humber. Moreover, your organization, because of its structure of governance, may be best described as a social enterprise, rather than a co-operative. Even so, if it is constituted under Industrial and Provident Society legislation, which was originally devised to provide a legal framework for forms of co-operative activity, you qualify for membership of Co-operatives UK and Co-operatives Yorkshire and Humber

This brings us to our first appeal. If your organization is eligible and not already affiliated to Co-operatives UK and Co-operatives Yorkshire and Humber, please consider doing so. We urge affiliation because we think it important to demonstrate the amount and scale of economic activity based on an alternative model to that of private equity capitalism.

But we wish to go further and issue a second appeal. We share the feelings of all co-operators who are disillusioned by politics, political parties and politicians. We too are disgusted by much of what we see at Westminster and in the City and would not exclude from criticism those with whom we are affiliated. We see great virtue in trying to change society through grass-roots action and we view co-operation as social movement which, through its greater ethical commitment, can produce a major transformation of society.

But if that is your view, we appeal to you to join the general movement by affiliating to bodies beyond your own organization so that our voice can be magnified and the message trumpeted to the many who are only too inclined to wallow in self-interest!

Being an active co-operator is one part of being an active citizen, but it is a part rather than the whole. Unfortunately, despite our feeling of disconnection with much in current politics and society, we find politics inescapable. We may often wish to say, as once did Anthony Newley, “stop the world I want to get off”, but …..

The Co-operative Party was founded in 1917 and affiliated to the Labour Party in 1927. Why? Economic conditions for the domestic population were very difficult at the height of the Great War in 1917 and co-operators saw the need to politically represent the interests of consumers and co-operators against those of war profiteers. The affiliation to the Labour Party followed the defeat of the miners and the wider trade union movement in the General Strike of 1926 and to combine against the subsequent attack on working-class interests by a triumphant Conservative government. Political action was required to defend co-operatives from adverse legislation in Parliament.

What we need now is less defensive than offensive action! The crises now facing humanity call for more pressing of co-operative ethical values and principles on Labour’s policy-making and, through political mechanisms, on domestic and international society. JOIN US NOW.

John Drewery, Yorkshire Co-operative Party Council. jmdrewery@talktalk.net

Councillor Lewis Dagnall, Sheffield Branch. sheffieldcoopparty@gmail.com

Steve Thompson. steve.thompson@phonecoop.coop