Motion 9: To determine the Society’s policy on Political Donations
Nine (a) Votes For 37.22% / Against 62.78% - Lost Nine (b) Votes For 48.32% / Against 51.68% - Lost Nine (c) Votes For 24.21% / Against 75.79% - Lost
This motion contains a series of questions being asked by the Group Board relating to our policy on political donations. An explanatory note from the Group Board can be downloaded by clicking on the link below.
(a) Should the Society make any donations to political parties? (b) Should the Society only make donations to the Co-operative Party? (c) Should the Society make donations across a range of political parties?
Board Explanatory Note The Board believes that it is for members of the Co-operative Group to decide whether the Society should donate to political parties.
If members do not approve the Group making political donations, the Board will honour a pre-existing commitment to continue making contributions to the Co-operative Party until the end of 2016. The Board would, however, propose to reduce the size of any contribution in line with the same disciplines that are being made throughout the Co- operative Group to identity further cost savings.
If members approve Motions A and B, the Group will continue to be a member of the Co-operative Party, who will be the sole recipient of the Group’s political donations at the reduced rate proposed above.
If members approve Motions A and C, the effect will be to create a political fund which can be used at the Board’s discretion, and in consultation with the Council, to support political activity of any kind where it believes that to be in the interest of members and the Group’s purpose.
If Motion A is passed, and in line with the law about political expenditure, including donations to political parties, by listed companies, the Board will bring similar motions to future General Meetings to confirm that members wish the arrangement to continue.
Members’ Council Response The Council recommends that members support Board motions 9a and 9c and oppose motion 9b.
Further detail regarding the rationale for the Council’s recommendation in the AGM Pack in respect of motion 9 is shown below:
9a - We believe that co-operative societies should be engaging in how politics is done. Businesses big and small engage and lobby in the political sphere; our difference is that we do so to promote co-operation and to benefit society in an open and accountable way.
9b - As the Members’ Council of the Co-operative Group we support the whole of the Co-operative Movement, however this motion excludes political parties other than the Co-operative Party, and as such it could prevent the Group from supporting like-minded or sympathetic parties or campaigns, which may be in its best interests. The Council therefore recommends that members oppose motion 9b.
9c - The Co-operative Group engages with a wide range of parties and political organisations to further the objectives of the Co-operative Movement and the Council believes that the Board and Members’ Council should to continue to engage members in co-operative policies and politics, including the Co-operative Party.
After fuller consideration, the Council has asked the Group Board to consider withdrawing Motion 9 for the following reasons:
concerns that the structure of the motion and its component parts are not provided with adequate background information about the reasons for the current position, and do not offer all the likely options members may wish to choose, including (effectively) the current position where support is mainly given to the Co-operative Party but some other support has been extended. In addition, the motion is misleading in that refers to “donations” whereas the current relationship with the Co-operative Party is one of paying subscriptions, as the Group is a member/owner of the Party.
The Council believes that any change of this significance requires full consultation and discussion, drawing on the experience of other exercises where members have made decisions on links with the world of politics, and that this would best be done at a future AGM following such consultation.
Pending a response from the Board on whether it is prepared to withdraw this motion, the Council’s recommendations are as shown above.