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Cameron's Co-operative Con

LONDON, February 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Tomorrow's launch of the Conservative Co-operative Movement is another cynical stunt from David Cameron. In a move that echoes his bid for green credentials, he now seeks to adopt the co-op as his own.

Successive Conservative Governments have done nothing but damage the Co-operative Movement.

Through the 1986 Building Societies Act, they facilitated the massive waves of demutualisation that plundered generations of assets from mutual societies. They ended national support for social enterprise when they closed the Co-operative Development Agency. For two decades (including Cameron's time at the Treasury) they steadfastly refused pleas to update co-operative legislation.

It is the Labour Government that has a track record of supporting co-operatives. Legislation has been updated with three private members bills, piloted by the Co-operative Party. The Government has also established new mutuals in a range of areas, from social enterprises to football supporter trusts, foundation hospitals, and housing community mutuals.

There are now over a million new members of mutuals, as a result of this Government. This year has also seen Ed Balls, himself a Labour and Co-operative MP, launch the pilot co-operative trust school at Reddish Vale City Technology College.

The CCM's launch document, 'Nuts and Bolts,' demonstrates how little this rival movement has to offer. It comes six years after the Co-operative Group's own guide to starting food co-operatives. As a result of their support, there are already almost 500 food co-operatives serving communities across the UK.

Peter Hunt, General Secretary of the Co-operative Party said:

'The CCM appears to be neither a co-operative nor a movement. It is a cynical stunt designed to make an unpalatable Tory Party appeal to the electorate.

But it is nice to see the Conservatives keeping green by recycling other people's policies.'

Notes to Editors

Background: The Co-operative Party is the fourth largest party in Parliament - often overlooked because it works quietly but effectively as a partner to the Labour Party. Each of the party's 29 MPs had to win selection by both the Co-operative Party and the Labour Party in their local area. Many of the Co-operative Peers have a distinguished background as MPs or in business.

The present group of MPs include:

- International Development & Trade Minister Gareth Thomas MP, who is also the Chair of the Co-operative Party

- Secretary of State for Schools, Children and Families, Ed Balls MP

- Former Cabinet Minister Alun Michael MP

- PPS to the Prime Minister, Angela Smith MP

- Minister at the Home Office, Meg Hillier MP

- Minister at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Meg Munn MP

- Minister for the Third Sector, Phil Hope MP

- Senior Whip Tommy McAvoy MP

The Party also has strong representation within the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and in local government.

In recent years the group has been effective in promoting co-operative legislation through Parliament and has supported some exciting and innovative ideas. Supporter-owned football clubs, ethical trade, environmental campaigns, innovations within the NHS, clean energy, farmer controlled businesses and education are just some of the co-operative contributions which the Party has supported.

SOURCE The Co-operative Party

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