Wednesday, 6 June 2007

G.D.H Cole on the Co-op Party

This booklet, published in 1944 is a like a primer in left of centre politics covering trade unions, the Co-op, Labour and the smaller Communist Party, Common Wealth (3 MP's in 1944), Fabians and ILP...

"The Co-operative Party has a working arrangement with the Labour Party, but is not affiliated to it. On paper the Co-operative Party has a much larger membership than the Labour Party (7 millions in 1943). Co-operative Societies are not under the Trade Union Act, and can affiliate their entire membership by a simple majority vote. But the Co-operative Party is only organised effectively in a few constituencies, where its candidates receive Labour support. It has never put up more than a few candidates for Parliament;: indeed, there is obviously not room for two working-class parties appealing mainly to the same voters, and the two can exist side by side without disaster only by mutual arrangement to avoid conflict. The Co-operative Party was only started in 1917, mainly as a protest against unfair taxation of Co-operative Societies during the first World War. The Co-operative Movement has not yet entered politics in more than a half-hearted way. If it did, there would have to be a very close working arrangement, if not an actual fusion between the Labour Party and the Co-operative Party, which are not divided by serious differences of immediate policy, though the Labour Party's professed aim is Socialism and that of the Co-operative Party the 'Co-operative Commonwealth' -both ideals which can be interpreted in more than one way."
- from The British Working-Class Movement : an outline study guide by G.D.H Cole, Fabian Special Number 7, July 1944 - 24 pages. The Co-operative Party had 9 M.P's in 1944.