Pre-dates the Co-op Party but James Johnston was a co-operator and politician in Victorian Manchester.
Originally from Jarrow, travelled extensively in Europe and America. "Some of the most interesting journeys were made in the company of his old friend E. Vansittart Neale, one of the Christian Socialists of 1848, with whom he visited Guise and Paris, to study the practical application of Fourier's theories to modern industry." Became one of the first Labour Councillors in Manchester. President of the Manchester & Salford Co-op Society 1888-90, and 1896-1899, vegetarian for 19 years (then lapsed)..."in the summer of 1896 he spent several weeks with the Clarion Van, visiting the towns and villages in Shropshire, and speaking at open-air meetings in advocacy of collectivism."
Taken the quotes and facts from "Manchester Faces & Places" January 1899. It was an illustrated record of the social, political, and commercial life of the cotton metropolis and its environs 1889-1900 - bound copies in Manchester Central Reference Library. Cllr. James Johnston also gets a mention in Edward Carpenter's Autobiography "My Days & Dreams" Chapter 11 , now he was a famous socialist character.