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Blogspot: Reflections On Labour Co-Operative Conference

Politics / Mon 15th Oct 2018 at 03:54pm

Reflections from the Co-Operative Party Conference, Bristol 2018 – ‘Keeping the Harlow £ in Harlow’

By Frances Mason

I arrived at the ‘Unleashed’ Co-Operative Party Conference in Bristol hoping to come away with new ideas to bring back to Harlow. You may be wondering who is the Co-Operative Party and what do they do? Apart from being the third largest political party who are also members of the Labour Party, the Co-Operative Party believe that things work best when ordinary people involved have a voice and when the organisations are accountable to those that use them.

Locally, Harlowsave is a prime example in our town, to provide a financial service for the community to help rid the town of Pay Day Loan providers and Loan Sharks. There are also many Social Enterprises in Harlow, who may not realise they are working to Co-Operative principles.

Credit Unions are only one part of the Co-Operative movement, to hear how other communities in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England are using co-operative principles to promote community wealth building whether that is within the Utilities, Housing, Transport, Social Care to Funeral Services was ground-breaking.

A range of Co-Operative Peers, MPs and Councillors were present explaining their responses to a number of policy issues including the environment, housing, crime, education, health and social care; showing there is strength in their increasing numbers in Westminster and the Lords. Shadow Business Secretary and MP, Rebecca Long-Bailey, talked passionately about ‘Keeping the Salford £ in Salford’, this is community wealth building at its best to tackle inequality by ensuring economic development is shared amongst its residents: We need to adopt this ‘Keeping the Harlow £ in Harlow’.

The Preston model was a forerunner in this movement; it is therefore good to reflect that Labour-run, Harlow District Council, developed HTS to replace Kier to ensure that any profits are returned to the residents of Harlow rather than to the pockets of shareholders; this is a crucial step to community wealth building in Harlow.

Conference also supported six statements advocating staying within the European Union, it stated that the Government’s assertion that no deal is better than a bad deal is ‘dangerous and irresponsible’.

The conference also showed its support for the USDAW’s campaign against violence, threats and abuse against retail workers, reminding us that this is #notpartofthejob.

There were two personal highlights for me, the first, it was a great pleasure to see Frank Jackson, aged 90 years, receive a lifetime achievement award for his services to the Co-Operative Party and working for Peace within the Labour movement. The award was presented by Carolyn Harris MP, Tracy Bradin, Shadow Early Years Minister and Claire McCarthy, the General Secretary, of the Co-Operative Party.

The second highlight was meeting Carolyn Harris MP who is the Chair of her Pensions (Review of Women’s Arrangements) Bill which has cross party support to alleviate hardship caused to 1950s born women who have seen their pension ages increase with little time to prepare. This is a Bill to watch in the coming months and is particularly relevant to women born in the 1950s who live in Harlow.

Overall a great conference with many ideas #Unleashed.

Frances L Mason

Labour and Co-Operative Party Member

Candidate for Toddbrook ward May 2019

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