PM announces new Co-operatives Act

In this, the UN International Year of Co-operatives, it is fitting — but frankly unexpected — that David Cameron should take the occasion of his speech today on “moral capitalism” to announce a new Co-operatives Act which will streamline the existing seventeen items of legislation and make it easier for people, including public service workers, to start new mutually owned co-operative ventures.

Co-operatives UK has welcomed what it calls an “historic announcement”.

Social Enterprise UK chief exec Peter Holbrook has said that the government is lagging behind the people as far as “moral markets” are concerned and that consumers have been voting with their feet for years in buying in ever increasing numbers from co-ops, social enterprises and ethical businesses.

“We should use the crisis of capitalism to improve markets,” the PM said, “not undermine them.” The speech is nothing less than an attempt to revise and reconstruct the Conservative position on market capitalism.

In it — and this is no mean feat — Cameron manages to distance the “popular capitalism” espoused by himself and the coalition government from that championed under Thatcherism, renew his dismissal of Thatcher’s “there is no such thing as society” statement, and damn the previous government as a party of unfettered “turbo-charged capitalism” that made “a Faustian pact with the City”.

This will go down as one of Cameron’s defining speeches and deserves to be read in its entirety. You can do that here in the New Statesmen. The BBC covers it here.

Thanks to Chris Newis and others for the nudge to cover this.


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