The future of the cooperative ideal: event write up
This is a short briefing document of our seminar The Future of the Co-operative Ideal. The event explored how the co-operative idea can have a new future as the basis of people powered localism. The event was chaired by Sarah Marsh from the Guardian and the speakers included Cllr Jim McMahon, Leader of Oldham Council and Leader of the LGA Labour Group; Cllr Sharon Taylor OBE, Leader of Stevenage Borough Council and Deputy Leader of the LGA Labour Group; and Liz Kendall MP, Shadow Minister for Care and Older People. The event was hosted by Steve Reed MP, Honorary President of the CCIN.
The cooperative movement in the UK faces significant challenges. The problems of the Cooperative Group have led some to question the legitimacy and relevance of cooperative ideas, raising questions about the potential for cooperative principles to shape our politics and society at a time when bold and radical transformation is most needed.
This seminar provided an opportunity to discuss these challenges, but also to make the case for cooperation as a catalyst for progressive transformation. It heard from leaders of cooperative councils, which are beginning to transform local politics and build more equal partnerships with their communities. With a new focus on how to build “productive places”, connecting state and civic action to build community resilience, unlocking opportunities and building thriving local economies, cooperative councils are exemplifying the potential of the cooperative ideal. The seminar also explored what implications this has for national politicians, and whether cooperative localism provides an opportunity to meet the big challenges facing society and public services.
As all parties face a crisis of public dis-engagement, we asked whether cooperative localism is an idea whose time has come.