An introduction to the Association of Liberal Democrat Co-operators (ALDCo)

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:

  1. Join The Co-operative.
  2. Use the wide range of services it provides, and share in the dividend based on how much you spend with the organisation.
  3. Stand for election to The Co-operative’s regional and national committees and boards.
  4. Join the Phone Co-op (, which provides good quality and competitive phone and broadband services.
  5. Seek out and help all those local groups in your area organised along co-operative lines.

Please join the debate at

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Ben Johnson 14th Sep '10 - 2:36pm

    The co-operative is a major donor to the Labour Party. A number of candidates are in fact Labour and Co-operative Party candidates, including Ed Balls MP.

    I agree with many principles of the co-operative movement, and think that they have a useful place in the UK.
    But does joining the Cooperative mean financially aiding the Labour Party?

  • Colin Green 14th Sep '10 - 3:06pm

    Ben Johnson

    “does joining the Cooperative mean financially aiding the Labour Party?”

    Perhaps, or maybe we could all join and get them to switch their political allegiance.

  • Great idea to choose an acronym that is nothing like any other high-profile Lib Dem organization ….. !

  • I would like to support this group but will its first priority be ending the Co-operative’s donations to the Labour party (or any other party!).

  • Two years ago the greed of bankers nearly brought the worlds’ economies to a halt.
    Some mutually owned Building Societies offer a full retail banking operation.
    We should be supporting them

  • Foregone Conclusion 14th Sep '10 - 6:03pm

    The Co-operative Party is not a wholly owned subsiduary of the Co-op, as far as I know. In any case, I think the people who are crying about the fact that what is effectively a few pence of their money might be going to the Labour Party are missing the bigger picture – Co-op membership strengthens the cause of liberalism much more than it’s weakened by the money given to Labour.

  • Joe Anderson 14th Sep '10 - 6:03pm

    I think the Lib Dems’ commitment to co-operation is highly suspect after Vince Cable admitted that since entering government, he has not given any thought to remutualising Northern Rock.

    The Co-operative Party emerged for the same reason that the Labour Party did: it was the best way to ensure representation of co-operative interests and ideals in Parliament. It continues to do that

  • paul barker 14th Sep '10 - 7:16pm

    The Co-op, the Co-op Party & the Co-op Bank are all controlled by Labour & the Unions. That why The Bank isnt bothered that Labour owe them millions they have no means or intention of ever paying back.
    There is little prospect of of either the Co-operative Movement or The Unions growing again unless they can break from Labour domination.

  • No Joe, the Co-op party was formed because of Lloyd George’s tax on dividends. The existence of the Co-op Party does not sit easily with ICA co-operative principles. Liberals have played a significant part in the co-operative movement. The first president of the ICA was a Liberal peer.

  • Joe Anderson 14th Sep '10 - 7:41pm

    Chris, that didn’t stop you putting it into your manifesto! Oxford University’s Centre for Mutual and Employee-owned Business did some research on remutualising Northern Rock on behalf of the Building Societies Association and urged the government to seriously consider remutualising it.

    Paul, that’s complete and utter nonsense. The Co-op is controlled by its members, some of whom are Labour and some of whom are TU members, but Labour membership is not exactly a factor that comes into any internal elections.

    David Cox: So you argue that the Co-op Party, like the Labour Party, was therefore a necessary response to the Liberal Party being silent to the Movement’s concerns? Seems like a pretty important reason for it to form a political party. Co-ops have been major political forces in other countries, too, like Canada, consider the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation.

  • Joe Anderson 14th Sep '10 - 9:13pm

    Niklas: Not necessarily, the taxpayers money could be paid back over the long-term. In the manifesto, you said you agreed in principle, but if there were so many practical concerns and no intention to do it, why put it in?

  • @Joe Anderson: Over how long a term are we considering? The interest would have to be significant just to get the value of our money back. Plus there is the political problem. The nationalised and part nationalised banks, in great likelihood, will be sold off in the immediate run up to the next election, to help finance spending programs announced in manifestos and to deny the coup to their opponents in case they lose. It doesn’t seem at this point that Northern Rock is likely to be even an independent entity at the end of that process.

  • Joe Anderson 14th Sep '10 - 11:01pm

    Dave, any member who has more than £2 in the last dividend gets a vote automatically, and any member regardless of the last dividend can request one.

    Any member who spends >£250 can stand, and information is available on the website or in-store….

  • Peter Arnold 5th Nov '10 - 2:28pm

    Thanks for the comments, and apologies for taking so long to reply. ALDCo is not a membership organisation, or one of the Party’s officially recognised organisations. It is a lobbying group of like-minded LibDems who believe that the co-operative principle is one that ought to feature more prominently in the Party’s policy debates. If you agree, then consider yourself a member! On the issue of the links between the official co-op movement and the Labour Party, don’t lose sight of the main issue. Working together in a genuinely co-operative way has many practical benefits for the individuals involved, for their families, communities and society at large. It is a viable, practical, sustainable and effective way of providing goods and services that people need; and it has practical implications for the political process as well. We need to debate these in greater depth, and let people know that co-ops are good for you!

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