Saturday, 5 November 2011

Wales needs a New Cooperative Movement.

Writing in the Magazine Prospect Labour AM Huw Lewis said.....
"In May, nine Labour and Cooperative assembly members were elected to the Welsh assembly, including two cabinet ministers. The cooperative movement has never been better represented at the heart of decision-making. We have a cooperative moment here in Wales and I am determined to capitalise on that.

What he actualy means who are members of hte Cooperative Party.
The Co-operative Party is a committed to supporting and representing co-operative principles. The party does not put up separate candidates for any UK election itself. Instead, Co-operative candidates stand jointly with the Labour Party as "Labour and Co-operative Party" candidates. Although a sister party of the Labour Party, the Co-operative Party is legally a separate political organisation, and members of the Co-operative Party do not have to join the Labour Party although they are not permitted to be members of another political party.

So it is restrictive and therefore not an open movement.

For the record the Labour Members of the Assembly who are also members of the Cooperative Party are

Alun Davies (AM for Blaenau Gwent
Ann Jones (AM for Vale of Clwyd)
Christine Chapman (AM for Cynon Valley)
Huw Lewis (AM for Mertyr Tydfil and Rhymney)
John Griffiths (AM for Newport East)
Lynne Neagle (AM for Torfaen)
Mick Antoniw (AM for Pontypridd)
Vaughan Gething (AM for Cardiff South and Penarth)
Sandra (Sandy) Mewies (AM for Delyn) 

I am sure that any financial contribution to their electoral expenses from the Cooperative Party has nothing do do with their membership.

With 9 of the 30 Labour Am's being also members of the Cooperative Party one would expect a greater emphasis especially in these troubled time on Cooperatives from the Assembly government but in fact beyond Social Housing legisaltion proposed by Huw Lewis there has been very little ambition.

Where are the proposals for setting up cooperatives throughout Wales ? Where is the ambition? where is the finances to set these up rather in spending money trying to attract foreign companies who either pull out as LG did or leave after a few years to move to another country which offer them a greater incentive.

What we seem to have is the equivalent of those who join a supporters club of a Rugby or Football clubs but never watch their Team Play. Though they will wear the replica strip at every occasion but probably could't name more than 3 members of the Teams Squad.

If we are to have a viable Cooperative Movement then it should consist of Members of all parties and those who are not affiliated to any party who have a vision beyond just giving vocal support which is more or less what the Cooperative Party does at the moment.

Unfortunately there seems to be desire from the other Plank that should support a Welsh Cooperative movement the Trade Unions who are still tied to the Labour Party to promote a radical alternative such as creation of Mondragon type solution. which exist in the Basque country.

And Huw Lewis who seems to be the Champion of Cooperatives in the Labour Party in Wales is to much of a partisan politician to contemplate any solution that involves politician outside his own party and would dismiss a Cooperative movement that identified strongly with the idea of Welsh Nationhood as Mondragon does with Euskadi.

Wales needs a new Cooperative movement that looks at Mondragon and other examples the Cooperative party with its narrow political base and its ambition can't be the answer.


  1. Have a look at:

    Very interesting who is in.

  2. The Labour party in Wales has no need of co-operatives due to the incestuous relationship it enjoys with the third sector that, in Wales, functions not by supplementing the real economy but by acting as a substitute for it. (See my recent post on the subject

    As for Mondragon, I recall many years ago a Labour Party delegation from Wales going over to study the Basque example. Once they realised that Mondragon was underpinned by Basque nationalism (left wing, maybe, but still nationalism) the idea of replicating Mondragon in Wales was heard of no more.

  3. Cibwr.

    Yes its worth a look.


    You have a point You can't help feeling such especially those which are there to create employment in the areas only create jobs for those working for the scheme.

    That is why I believe the emphasis should be on setting up c-opratives. I recently was sent on a welfare to work programme where I met some young people who were setting up a business at no stage where they given advice on making it a cooperative.

    I remember the Labour-Trade Union delegation .I think Labour and the Unions would oppose Mondragon even if it wasn't associated with Basque Nationlism as their centreist views baulk at people running things without thier influence.

  4. glynbeddau is wrong on two counts. Firstly, there are nine Labour and Co-operative AMs, but there are other AMs who are members of the Co-operative Party. And there is a cross party group[chaired by a Labour Co-op AM but with members from all parties). Secondly, the Labour Party in Wales is committed to promoting co-ops in many other ways than just housing reform (important though that is) - just look at last year's manifesto, which Co-operative Party members helped to shape.

  5. Karen Wilkie

    I presume you are the Karen Wilkie who is currently Deputy General Secretary at The Co-operative Party and who has been Research & Policy Officer, Labour Group at Taf Ely Borough Council.

    If I am wrong on the AMs then I'ts only because I got the list from . The co-operative Pary website

    Which only list the Nine Labour MPs . I mentioned.

    So any error is yours. perhaps you can correct it.

    Can you name the AMs from other parties or are you talking about suppotrs of the Ccoperative movement.

    As I wrote I was under the impression that Coop Party members do not have to join the Labour Party although they are not permitted to be members of another political party,

    Is this True in which case how cam AM's from other Parties be members of the Cooperative Party?

    As for the second part all I can say is considering the years the Coop party has been exsistance . Why hasn't it prempted a Mondragon policy and with the large number of Labour Ams in the Assembly who are members. Where's the Beef?