Stephen Doughty (who is both the Labour MP and the Co-operative Party MP for Cardiff South and Penarth) has publicised a statement from the Co-operative Party ‘denying’ that it could become an anti-Corbyn “party-within-a-party” inside Labour.
Doughty – like his predecessor Alun Michael – is a member of both the Labour Party and the shadowy and largely unknown Co-operative Party.
At the weekend The Sunday Times reported that if Corbyn wins the leadership of the Labour Party in September, 100 Labour MPs will be recruited into the Co-operative Party – and will join the 25 existing dual-membership MPs (like Doughty).
The potential advantage getting all these Labour MPs into the Co-operative Party is that – for historical reasons – the Co-op Party is officially recognised as being a separate political party by the Electoral Commission. If enough Labour MPs join it, then the Co-operative Party – and not the Labour Party – would be entitled to be regarded as the main opposition party in the House of Commons – stifling Corbyn and the “official” Labour Party.
Now however, in a “non-denial denial” – re-tweeted by Stephen Doughty – the Co-operative Party has attempted to scotch the Sunday Times story and attenpted to deny that it could become the nexus of an anti-Corbyn “party-within-a-party” in Parliament.
In a statement, the Co-operative Party says “We are not a vehicle to be used by one political faction or another to advance their own agenda.The Co-operative Party has worked with Labour under each of its leaders since 1927 and remains neutral on the current leadership contest within the Labour Party.The Co-operative Party NEC has had no discussions about changing the way the Party operates based on the outcome of the Labour Leadership contest.”
The Co-operative Party is the political arm of the socialist trading movement the “Co-op” – which is perhaps best known for the chaotic collapse of the “mutual” Co-operative Bank.
In 2013 the then chairman of the Co-operative Bank , the Reverend Paul Flowers stood down and made a public apology after being filmed allegedly buying drugs.
The former chairman’s competence – or lack of it – during his three years as the head of the Co-operative Bank was also exposed when investigations were made into the Co-op’s disastrous take-over of the Britannia Building Society.
In addition a £1.5 billion shortfall was discovered in the capital of the Co-op Bank.
The outcome of the embarrassing revelations was that thousands of Co-op Bank employees were made redundant. The Vale of Glamorgan Council – which was a customer of the Co-operative Bank – had to quickly find an alternative bank .
In the wake of the Co-operative Bank scandal, Stephen Doughty claimed the Co-operative Movement had been “unfairly smeared” in regard to what he called “the concerning and disturbing events at the Co-op Bank “.