Co-op Party AGM - 9-September-2011
London Co-op Party “Mayor of London Manifesto” Launch with Ken Livingstone.
As summer comes to a close the “conference season” opens. The Co-op Party held it’s annual conference during the 9 - 11 September weekend in the Holiday Inn, Great Portland Street, London. The conference attracted co-operatvie delegates from across the country well prepared for discussion on the future of the co-operative movement - from party issues to the concept of co-ops as the alternative way to do business and create wealth.
The weekend was kicked off with the launch of the Co-op manifesto for the prospective Mayor of London candidate - Ken Livingstone. The manifesto was the result of a consultation on Co-op Policy with members attending a series of open seminars and “online discussions”. Although much of the London Co-op Party manifesto is “in line” with Labour Party Policy (after all the Co-op party supports the Labour Party candidate) some of the ‘language’ is peculiarly corporate rather than “co-op”. There are also a number of moot points which continue to engender heated arguments in the forever shifting sands of political debate: co-operative -v- state ownership -v- trade union representation, and ties to the Labour Party. Contemporary differences are linguistic - phrases in the manifesto such as “transferring community assets”, advocation of “pro-business agendas” and “entrepreneurialism” are to be found - unnerving for the majority of members whose average age is not within the upwardly mobile “youth” category.
The manifesto launch took place at an evening reception in the “Hub”, Regents Park, a bunker styled venue overlooking the Zoo. Delegates enjoyed drinks, nibbles and networking and of course listening to mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone and (his) ‘prospective deputy mayor’ Val Shawcross.
The weekend conference programme was interspersed with workshops on Mutuals, Energy and Environment, a bevy of speakers; MPs, Co-op Policy experts and party notables and social events including the annual Dinner. Sunday was the actual party conference of rule changes and resolutions. The most contentious motion was the rise in membership fees. After a long debate it was agreed to raise the fees once, and revisit another rise next year rather than accept the proposed three consecutive years. It was also agreed to look at establishing ‘concessionary’ rates. Amicability was restored with the traditional singing of Auld Lang Syne - and the traditional crossing and linking of hands…
And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere ! and gie’s a hand o’ thine ! And we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught, for auld lang syne.
As one parting delegate said - “That really made me feel so.... rejuvenated.”