Voters can opt for the Co-op Party

Yvonne Fovargue MP, Cllr Keir Stitt, Michael Stephenson and Lisa Nandy MP
Yvonne Fovargue MP, Cllr Keir Stitt, Michael Stephenson and Lisa Nandy MP

VOTERS in next May’s borough council elections could find an historic name returning to the polling booths.

An official branch of the Co-operative Party - whose members in Lancashire helped to found and shape the modern day Labour Party - has been reformed in Wigan and Leigh after an absence of more than 15 years.

Now it is increasingly likely that a number of candidates will stand jointly for both Labour and the Co-operative Party in the 2012 town hall elections.

Co-operative Party members gathered at the Unite offices in Hallgate to hear General Secretary of The Co-operative Party Michael Stephenson outline the “exciting future” within the political agenda of the Metro.

The Co-operative Party is the fourth largest political party in Parliament, and the political arm of the Co-operative movement. Its most prominent MP is Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls.

‘Co-operators’ believe that people will achieve more by working together than they can by working alone while supporting the efforts of those who seek success through that co-operative endeavour.

It works to promote co-operatives and all forms of mutual organisation and works in partnership with the Labour Party as its sister party to achieve these ends.

There are currently 29 Labour and Co-operative MPs and hundreds of local authority councillors around the country.

Mr Stephenson addressed an audience of Co-operative and Labour Party figures across the borough including Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue, Wigan MP Lisa Nandy and her predecessor, former Wigan Parliamentarian Neil Turner.

Abram Coun Keir Stitt, who went on to be elected chairman of the new Wigan and Leigh Co-operative Party branch, said: “Michael’s attendance was a real boost for our local branch and we plan to increase membership over the coming year and seek to elect Labour and Co-operative candidates onto Wigan Council.

“For more than 90 years, the Co-operative Party has stood for giving economic and political power to everyone in our society. Co-operative values and principles are truly an idea whose time has come back.”

He added that building societies, credit unions like Wigan’s highly successful Unity, plus the Co-operative Bank, had weathered the economic crisis better than the high street banks because they are owned and controlled by their customers.