Andy Sawford, Labour and Co-operative Party MP for Corby, has written to 220 MPs demanding that Waitrose stop offering free coffee and newspapers to their customers. The MP, who is a member of a political party that is backed by the Co-operative Supermarket chain, claimed in his letter that the loyalty scheme offered by Waitrose was damaging to other retailers.
Mr Sawford has one Waitrose in his constituency located in the affluent village on Oundle. The nearest major rival is a branch of the Co-operative Supermarket. He is encouraging MPs to write to the Chief Executive of Waitrose demanding that their loyalty scheme be stopped.
The Co-operative Party is partly financed by 4,900 branches of the Co-operative retail group. It does not contest elections but instead runs joint candidates with the Labour Party. Co-operative Party members are barred from being members of parties other than Labour.
Andy Sawford’s letter was sent on Valentine’s Day but has only now been widely circulated. In it he said: “I accept that many retailers operate some form of rewards scheme for those who shop regularly at their stores and these are generally regarded as beneficial marketing policies by consumers.
“The Waitrose scheme, however, is fundamentally different to those which provide ‘points’ for conversion into purchases or which offer in-store discounts… The Companies policy may be providing it with some competitive advantage in relation to other supermarket rivals.”
A Westminster insider who spoke to Breitbart said: “How can Sawford claim that this loyalty scheme is against the spirit of fair competition? Surely they should have a right to market themselves however they want. I suspect Sawford is just bitter because his favoured retailer isn’t doing as well as Waitrose!”
Whilst there is no suggestion of impropriety, his intervention in the cut throat retail sector will undoubtedly raise eye brows due to his Co-operative party Membership. The leftwing party was founded in 1917 and currently boasts 9,000 members, with 32 MPs and 18 Peers. It is the only UK party controlled by a major corporation.