Vic Parks writes:

If you are in the Co-operative Movement, you may be aware that there is a proposal to wind up the National Guild of Co-operators (NGC) at a meeting 30 March 2019. The purpose of this communication is for influential Co-operators to encourage the so-called National Council to postpone this meeting, so that alternative proposals can be considered. It appears that this is being driven by Ray Henderson (Treasurer) and Jean Miller (President). According to Ray Henderson, The Secretary (Maurice Austin), appears to be incommunicado and, de facto, resigned.

At one time, this was a thriving organisation with various branches. One by one, they dropped away. I am led to believe that an important one went en masse. As explained later, it is my view that this was because of disillusionment with the way the organisation was run, led and its negative, bullying culture.

In 2017, I wrote a document with proposals to try and turn the NGC around. This was ignored by the National Council led by Jean Miller (President), Ray Henderson (treasurer), Maurice Austin (then Secretary), et al. Then, “out of the blue” the ruling “clique” produced proposals for constitutional change and forced them through at a very poorly attended SGM. Was this a legitimate meeting (e.g quorate)? I had written a critique of the proposed changes (NGC CRITIQUE OF AGM: CHANGES TO CONSTITUTION AND RULES). I did not attend the meeting as I had been bullied and abused by members of the NC at a previous AGM. However, I understand, this document was not put before the meeting and, therefore not discussed.

In my view, the NC is basically incompetent, ineffective, immoral, undemocratic and a disaster. There is now no “Secretary” and the membership details are lost. Surely, this is GROSS incompetence? It is stated in the Notice of the SGM meeting that only people who were members as at 1 October 2018 can vote. When they do not know who the members are, how can they determine whether someone is a member or not? As far as I can see, they have done nothing to reinvigorate the NGC, despite forcing through constitutional changes at the 2017 AGM, to suit their own agendas.

Again, in my view the NC is responsible for the demise and utter failure of the NGC.  Of course, they will not admit it! They appear to believe that they are “bullet proof” and untouchable. Is this arrogance?

They blame falling membership. Why? Is it because of the cold, hostile controlling abusive, bullying and aggressive culture that I have witnessed? In my view, organisations need a culture of being: warm, friendly , supportive, respectful and, above all else, democratic – SERVING the members. The controlling NC members also try to hide their “guilt” by using shenanigans to side-line and shut up critical voices. One of their ploys is to find some ground for saying “you are not a member, and never have been.” Ray Henderson tried it on with me and I had to prove that the cheque for my membership was cashed, even though he was Treasurer and access to the bank accounts! And, even as I write, he is still trying to use the same ruse to stop me publishing this paper.

There is another strategy, quite common, these days – to ignore awkward questions, documents or letters in the hope that the “awkward” author will go away!!


I, and others, are calling for postponing the SGM so that a group of us, can try and turn the NGC around like a Phoenix from the flames. Because of those involved in the National Council’s abject failure, I will go further and request that the members stand down and allow, in the interim, a “caretaker” group who will try to turn the organisation around. The fundamental aim would be to change a culture of cold and hostile to one of being warm and friendly – TRUE CO-OPERATION! Although I am partially “retired” from politics and Public service, I am prepared to become part of the group (called: CARING CO-OPERATION?) to use my education skills and organising policy forum experience to help. As I understand it, in 2017, there was £12000 in funds, but the Treasurer has not issued any further financial statement.

For me, the culture and behaviour of the “ruling clique,”is the most obnoxious and hypocritical of any group of people, who call themselves “Co-operators,” that I have ever met. How they live with their consciences, I find it hard to comprehend. Perhaps they do not have an ethical framework or any conscience whatsoever! It is this culture which I highly criticised in my book: “Co-ops and Mutuals: Armageddon or Watershed?” In my view, this led to the collapse of the Co-operative Bank: bullying, ostracisation, side-lining, etc. Is it the same scenario for the NGC? It is little wonder that many good, ethical people become disillusioned with “Co-operation” and leave.

This is the dark side of politics and Co-operation – the “anti-Christ” of TRUE Co-operation. It is the worst advert for the Movement and what it stands for – its values and principles.

As this is fair comment and/or true it is not libellous, so it can be distributed widely.




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