Time to rock the boat or accentuate the positive?

In response to a recent article I received an email message and replied in green:

When you set up “Concerned Co-operators” it was on the back of an article I wrote some years ago. It was intended to be a discussion forum, yet you have turned it in to some sort of “don’t rock the boat” site, which is part of a culture that has brought Group to its knees.

The website was set up as a result of concerns voiced by several co-operators. Its aims were set out here:

ABOUT: true democratic co-operation

Don’t let the co-operative sun set!

Concerned co-operators uphold the practice of members’ ownership and control, the norm in most worker co-operatives but neglected, though affirmed in principle, in the larger enterprises:

A few years after the event which has eventually triggered the setting up of this site, a group of co-operators concerned about the ‘corporatisation’ of the large societies, involving loss of members’ control, began to correspond.

The most fruitful response to our concern has been a definitive article by the Lincolnshire Co-op Chief Executive Ursula Lidbetter, “Commercial confidentiality versus Co-op democracy”.

Paul may be a decent man, but his articles have always avoided any confrontation with the Group management and this extract does much the same.

He spoke plainly enough here, quoted below: section on governance 22-24:

Too often the democracy of mutual societies has been abused, elections subjected to undue influence and managers have had more power than the directors. Too often the directors have had neither the skills, knowledge nor the presence to impose themselves on senior managers and,provide the necessary strategic leadership of mutual societies. There are, of course, many cases of fine leadership of mutuals – but this needs to be common practice, not best practice.

Failures of leadership in the mutual sector have a wide impact – across all the members, employees and users of the mutual. The significance and importance of the role of mutuals in key sectors in society, in which their members can be literally dependent on them, makes those members all the more vulnerable if there is mismanagement.

You and some other co-operators do not seem to understand that Co-operation is on the brink of destruction.

I think we are all well aware of that – hence the current need to ‘accentuate the positive’.

It is the control freak management and its quislings and nodding donkeys on Boards and Area Committees that have allowed this to happen. The situation is just like the Enron scandal and has set back the cause of co-operation, decades.

Agreed (it has set back the cause).

This scandal should be a watershed for devising a Co-operative model that can be truly democratic and adhere to fundamental co-operative principles.


Have you ever served as an elected representative on Group?

No – was connected for many years only with worker co-operatives and only became a society member in 2003. By the time I found my feet I was too old to serve.

How many of us are in the “Concerned Co-operators network?”

The mailing list has 31 members on the mailing list.

On the 19th November, 106 ‘strangers’ also logged on to the site to read about Ursula Lidbetter.


This entry was posted in Co-operative movement, Democratic participation, Problems, Worker co-operatives and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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