“The Co-operative party aims to develop some “distinctive and independent” policy stances separate from those of Labour, its chairman has said before the party’s annual conference.
The political movement, whose strapline is “politics for people”, has been allied to Labour since 1927, and 25 MPs currently sit in parliament on a joint ticket.
The party recently rejected speculation that it could be a vehicle for Labour MPs who oppose Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership to split away and form their own movement. It is staying neutral in the Labour leadership contest.
Gareth Thomas, the MP for Harrow West and Co-operative chair, said the party would be making more of an effort ahead of its 100-year anniversary in 2017 to develop a voice more of its own.
“We want to be more distinctive,” he said. “We are very clear we want to stay in the [European] single market. We see it as an exercise in international cooperation. And we are pretty pro-business as a party. It is co-op businesses that set us up and which continue to affiliate to us, and it is one of the things that marks us out. We have very good links into the co-operative business community as well.”
The party is launching a policy pamphlet arguing for care recipients, their families and carers to be represented on the boards of private companies providing social care services.
It is also calling for carers working for private social care providers, many of whom are very low paid, to have a right to take over their company – a “right to own” – if it is at risk of closure or is changing hands.
The party said the measures were being put forward to tackle the twin crises in adult social care in England: concerns about poor quality care, and endemic low pay and poor terms and conditions for the workforce.”