Taken from Vic’s letter in the Co-operative News: December 13th 2013:
The major problem is governance. The servants (management) have become the masters. elected members are little more than nodding donkeys. It is widely known as the democratic deficit.
The appointment of Ursula Lidbetter may be a step in the right direction. She comes from Lincolnshire Co-op whose former president is Alan Middleton – a genuine, decent co-operator – and Ursula receives similar accolades . . .
However, although she may well have zeal and genuine ambitions to bring about root-and-branch reform, the usual suspects, cliques and cronies will not want to reform themselves.
Many outside the Co-operative Movement view it with rose-tinted glasses – warm, caring and “cuddly.” Perhaps it was so in days gone past, but the market philosophy, individualism, consumerism and autocratic management styles have greatly influenced its ethos in the last few decades.
I know many decent, genuine co-operators of integrity but they either “keep their heads down” or leave their elected positions. For a co-operative to function properly, it needs to be firmly grounded in its ethical principles.