ALDCo is a Liberal Democrat pressure group whose aim is to promote discussion within the party on all aspects of co-operation. This concept includes the traditional co-operative movement founded in Rochdale in 1844, now known as The Co-operative, but it also includes social enterprises, mutual organisations, credit unions, co-operative housing schemes, and community and voluntary organisations all over the country that operate along co-operative lines, and provide local goods and services to people in the areas where they live.
Our belief is simple: people working co-operatively together can achieve far more than people working on their own. In short, teamwork always wins.
Britain needs creative, enterprising and innovative people with the ideas and the drive to change and improve things. But those individuals cannot realise their dreams on their own: they need other people to help them get their ideas to market. And those other people form the team without which entrepreneurs cannot be successful; and the most effective teams are organised along co-operative lines.
Co-operatives appeal to Liberal Democrats because they are run along democratic lines – it’s one of the co-operative principles. Power-sharing, working together, coalitions, all follow the co-operative principle. The preamble to the Liberal Democrat constitution states that the co-operative principle should be one of the key principles of the economic structure of the country.
But how relevant is the co-operative principle in modern Britain? Can it be applied to every sphere of life, or is it best suited to the economic system? We believe the time is ripe for us to re-examine this concept, and we want to encourage debate on it within the party.
But every journey begins with the first step, and there are some simple steps that all LibDems can take now to increase our involvement and visibility in the modern co-operative movement:
- Join The Co-operative.
- Use the wide range of services it provides, and share in the dividend based on how much you spend with the organisation.
- Stand for election to The Co-operative’s regional and national committees and boards.
- Join the Phone Co-op (http://www.thephone.coop/libdems), which provides good quality and competitive phone and broadband services.
- Seek out and help all those local groups in your area organised along co-operative lines.
Please join the debate at www.aldco.org.uk