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Co-op is not a distraction for candidate

PUBLISHED: 12:58 29 April 2010 | UPDATED: 11:40 23 August 2010

LABOUR candidate Kathryn Smith has denied her involvement with the Co-operative movement will distract her should she be elected as Gravesham s next MP. Ms Smith who is standing as a Labour and a Co-operative candidate – one of 43 around the UK – stood

LABOUR candidate Kathryn Smith has denied her involvement with the Co-operative movement will distract her should she be elected as Gravesham's next MP.

Ms Smith who is standing as a Labour and a Co-operative

candidate - one of 43 around the UK - stood down as a Co-op director last year to focus her energy on the election campaign.

However, she remains heavily involved with the group, working with new group Co-operatives London, as non-executive director of Social Enterprise London and as a member of the Co-operatives Development and Enterprise Hub.

Defending herself Ms Smith said: "All three of these positions are voluntary no-paid positions. Each requires meeting around four times a year and in total they will probably take an hour out of every month."

She explained that the first two groups work with Co-ops and other social enterprises such as charities and small businesses to provide guidance and advice, while the development and enterprise hub helps to redistribute profits from larger successful Co-ops to ones that need support.

She said: "I am proud of my work for the Co-op, which would, if listed be amongst one of the Top-50 UK businesses. I am delighted to be part of this

important group.

Should Ms Smith be elected she will be the first Co-operative MP for Gravesham since the party was established more than 90 years ago.

There are currently 29 MPs who areCo-operative and Labour including Cabinet Minister Ed Balls.

But she was keen to explain that as a Co-operative member if a piece of legislation is

suggested that would damage the movement, she would be exempt from following Labour Party lines.

She added: "I don't expect this to be an issue as there are more than 20 policies in Labour's manifesto which support and encourage mutuals and co-operatives, including a commitment to remutualise Northern Rock; community-owned pubs and rights of supporters trusts to buy stakes in football clubs.

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