Saturday, 22 December 2007

2007 in Pictures

Some of the images from the 90th Anniversary Year of 2007 from meetings and events. This has been one of the easiest online slide show creators to use, and can be edited and re-edited to get the effects you desire.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Quiet now until 2008

Bit of a lean spell for news to post but things are bubbling in the background....

First event booked in the diary. A showing of Black Gold film at The Blue Box Theatre in Chorlton on Wednesday 27th February as part of Fairtrade Fortnight. A proper theatre, a biggish screen and we need an audience. A co-operative effort between South Manchester Members Group, Members Relations and Withington Co-op Party. There is a short video interview with Marc and Nick Francis at BBC Film Network where they talk about the making of the film, and why it isn't a conventional campaigning movie.

Re-structuring of the Co-op Party in the North to be announced, will there still be a Withington branch? New "The Co-operative" membership cards to all former United members coming in January. Makes it easier to rack up some points to qualify for a dividend cheque every year, especially if you have some of their financial services - insurance, banking etc..

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Cameron's Mutual Gloss

When David Cameron made his "Conservative Co-operative" speech last month he set the hares running in co-operative politics. There is a short article in this month's Progress magazine by Peter Hunt, General Secretary of the Co-op Party.
"Mutual gloss : Cameron's support for co-operatives is a cynical political stunt"

Mr.D.Cameron is reported to make more announcements in January. We'll see.

Salford City Radio

At a recent co-op event I was talking to Cllr. Jim King from Salford about the launch of Salford Community Radio. Jim is a well known co-operator, well i know him, and he's doing the arrangement committee bit for next year's Co-op Party Annual Conference. He's even managed to find time to have his own radio show "King's Questions" which is "interviews with CEO’s or Senior Managers who run public services for the people of Salford, together with a selection of their favourite tracks."

The station is run as a social enterprise. There is a story about it the current issue of Co-op News..."Community radio stations are springing up all over Britain and it is vital that the Co-operative Movement gets involved" says Jim. Not sure about springing up, it took six years for Salford to get it's first own radio station.

Salford City Radio on 94.4 FM or online. Jim's show is broadcast Wednesday 1700h-1800h, repeated Sundays 1100h-1200h.

Monday, 3 December 2007

Black Gold Award

Congrats to the makers of 'Black Gold', Nick and Mark Francis, co-directors and co-producers who won the award for "best achievement in production" at the British Independent Film Awards in London.

There are plans in hand to show the film, free of charge, to members and non-members as part of Fairtrade Fortnight 25th February - 9th March 2008. If you can't wait until then, the DVD is available now.

Co-op Values in Schools

The Co-operative Party set out to publish policy documents on all the major subjects at the beginning of the year- and education is in there. Always an expensive and controversial subject in politics. Should you wish to read a summary - it's here

There is also "Co-operative values make a difference: in the curriculum and governance of schools" was originally published in September by The Co-operative College. Click here to access the pdf version. Written by Mervyn Wilson and Cliff Mills, foreword by Ed Balls MP, and an introduction by Peter Marks, CEO of The Co-operative. Lots of pictures to break up the text. Co-operative trusts for schools? I think a lot of people would buy into that.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Great Figures & Events in Manchester

A topic, not quite a debate yet, has opened up on Greater Manchester Fabians blog -
a) The most important political moments in the history of Manchester (and the surrounding area) - here.
b) The top 10 most important political figures from Greater Manchester - here. I didn't know that Gerrard Winstanley, the 17th century Digger ( they took common land to grow crops) was from Wigan until I read these entries.

You are welcome to make your own suggestions - possibly a future Fabian meeting out of all this. Don't bother being silly because the comments are moderated. There is also a recent post about Withington - John Leech MP - Facebook fiasco - here called "a fine line between success and sour grapes". In all definitely a political weblog to add to your RSS feeds.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Moss Side 1950 Election History

When news is a bit short, we've plenty of history to fall back on...Poster is from the 1950 General Election, that's the disappointing one when Labour was returned with only a small majority despite getting the most votes. It was held on the 23rd February. Boundary changes which brought in the leafy districts of Whalley Range and Chorlton meant that the seat went back to the Conservatives after the 1945 landslide. It was won by Florence Horsburgh, later the first ever woman Tory cabinet minister in 1951.

The other note is the public meeting in a pre-TV age when candidates spoke in rooms to any interested electorate. The Beech Road co-op hall in Chorlton has long gone, closed 1967, but the building is still there. It's a Thai restaurant, and the upstairs rooms are flats. But back then it was a grocery store and a separate butchers next door. Both Manchester & Salford Co-op Society.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

The Year Ahead

Already the 2008 year is filling up with events for members...
Co-operative History Group have a meeting in Manchester showing two films made prior to WW2..."Peace Parade" and "Advance Democracy" on Wednesday 16th January. Then there is Cllr. Sir Richard Leese making an appearance at the Co-op Rooms, Hardy Lane in the same month. Ed Balls MP is booked in for a Labour Party fund raiser in February. Before you know it there is an AGM and Fair Trade Fortnight (25th February - 9th March). It's also the year of the 150th Anniversary of the death of Robert Owen.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Webcast of thousands

WebcastAfter a bit of technical trouble at my end managed to watch The Co-operative Webcast. Full marks for using modern technology to communicate to members. You wouldn't have learned anymore by being in the room. Instead your at home, after work, making tea and getting ready for the football game on the telly.

Bit heavy on the business jargon, a few clips of new tv adverts and a Question & Answer section to finish. Don't know how much these webcasts cost or how many are watching but as a way of communication it's as good as watching a party conference on tv.

Fair Trade Petition

There is an e-petition to be sent to No.10 Downing may wish to add your support it only takes a minute....
"Make Europe’s trade deals with poor countries fair"
Only weeks to go, the EU is putting intense pressure on 76 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries to sign free trade agreements that pose serious risks to jobs, livelihoods, economies and the environment. Sign this petition and ask Gordon Brown to make trade work for some of the world’s poorest people.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Fair Trade, Fair Isle Xmas

It's only a few weeks to go before xmas, and all that consumerism and indulgence that passes for a festive occasion. You don't want to read that. So how about some Fair Trade Chocolate Gold Coins, and didn't we all love those as kids. Produced by Divine Chocolate (fairtrade cocoa, and as ever in this blog a co-operative). Photographed in my friend's shop - Arkadash, Chorlton. It sells organic and fairtrade clothes and gift items.

Intrigued by an article in The New Statesman To Knit or Not To Knit? about real Fair Isle woolies. There is a co-operative that produces them - Fair Isle Crafts. Not sure you can buy them in Manchester, which is a pity. Reading between the lines there is a need for fair trade between a part of the UK, a mere 3 degrees north of here, 5 degrees north of London.

Friday, 16 November 2007

MP Quits Facebook

All those claims that the Lib-Dems are a modern, we engage the electorate party have proved to be hollow after John Leech MP for this constituency quit Facebook after just a couple of weeks. If you could only muster two friends, and the I believe John Leech MP lied about Christie Hospital and should apologise group managed 117 members in that time you'd be pretty miffed.

Lucy Powell, the Labour PPS has 248 friends, and when the local press and bloggers starting publishing the stats our MP threw in the towel and quit Facebook. The trouble is he is still being our invisible MP on 60k + expenses, and still a part-time City Councillor for one of the most economically deprived wards in the city on 16k.

Olive Oil Meeting

Olive Oil & Za-ahtarBitterly cold weather kept attendances low at the last Withington Co-op Party meeting of 2007. But for those who went we had a friendly informative meeting about the Zaytoun olive oil co-op and the Sindyanna - non-profit organisation who make oil, soaps, baskets.

How their products ever get out of the country is an achievement in itself - roadblocks, checkpoints and bureaucracy . The picture is of us tasting the olive oil and za'atar (a spice mixture from herbs grown in that part of the world). It's very, very tasty and moreish. Both products will be on my shopping list because of their quality. Both products will hopefully be getting organic and fairtrade status soon. In reality both are now - the growers have never been able to afford pesticides and fertiliser.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Bought Your Own Club

A return to one of our favourite subjects...Co-operatives and Football.

I didn't think it would happen so quickly but MyFootballClub (Independent & Provident Society - one member one vote) have bought 51% of Ebbsfleet. I didn't know much about Ebbsfleet in the Blue Square Premier until I realised last season it used to be Gravesend & Northfleet in the Nationwide Conference. It would appear quite a few clubs wanted to be bought out. Sloppy reporters refer to a website taking over a football club - which is nonsense - when it's a collective of individuals. It's not the only football club run on co-operative lines by fans (FC United, AFC Wimbledon). I'm given to understand that Football League rules prohibit a club being an I&PS and not a capitalist company which shows how out of touch they are with the Government and UEFA backing of Supporters Direct. There is every chance of promotion this season or next.
Story - BBC News

Monday, 12 November 2007

Let's Have A Day off

Let's have it off! Community Day - the campaign for a bank holiday for Britain's communitiesPrinted in small type in little diaries are the public holidays of most countries you'd like to visit and you notice they have a lot more - Japan has 19, Turkey 14, Canada 11 and how come we've only get a mere 8. As someone who has order to goods directly from Europe I get caught out by mid-week holidays Ascension Day (France), Queen's Day (Holland), Columbus Day (Spain). Don't mention Italy - officially 12 but that doesn't include August when nothing happens.

The TUC, NCVO and others have launched a campaign for a public holiday in October. You'll have to go back to a James Callaghan Labour government in 1978 when the last public holiday was allowed. The first Monday in May as a substitute May Day. For some reason only Monday's can be holidays and elections have to be on a Thursday.

Tip of the hat to Politics To People for this news. Facebook group here.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Facebook Campaigns

I don't know how Facebook will be used in the run-up to the next election. No doubt someone will write some papers about it. But its a very cost effective, viral propaganda tool and can be used by anyone. Very democratic or just unrepresentitive.

One of our members John Hacking last week set up the group
"I believe John Leech MP lied about Christie Hospital and should apologise..". Link.
It has a lot more members than John Leech MP (Lib-Dem : Manchester Withington) on Facebook, surely he can't have only 2 mates.

Then there is
"Is Divi Dave the poshest pioneer?" Link.
which rapidly had 100 members in a couple of days as a reaction to Mr.Cameron's speech last Monday. It'll be interesting if the leader of the opposition will return to the subject of co-operation.

Friday, 9 November 2007

Oil Meeting - Olive not Peak

Next week Withington Co-op Party have a meeting. The last one planned for 2007. Thursday 15th November at 2000h in the Hardy Lane Co-op Rooms with Jo Bird – on Fair Trade Palestinian Olive Oil. Jo will give an illustrated talk about importing fairly traded Palestinian olive oil, co-ops in Palestine, and the effect of the current political situation. All co-operators welcome.

Zaytoun - Olive Oil

Photo Gallery

Anniversary Dinner #4A collection of photos from last Friday's Manchester Area Co-op Party 90th Anniversary Dinner in Prestwich. Here

Picture shows our own Paul Murphy, Chair of Manchester Area Co-op Party with Lucy Powell, Prospective Parliamentary Labour candidate for Manchester Withington who is a member of our branch.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Co-op out in front on sustainability

"Who can catch the Co-op? At the Co-op, sustainability isn't simply a business aim, it is part of its strategy. That it has also been so successful puts its competitors to shame"...article by Helen Carter in The Guardian on Monday 5th November.

There is also an video of a speech by Paul Monaghan, the head of ethics and sustainability at the Co-op Group, talking about its efforts to combat climate change. Four points in four minutes - worth watching. Article / Video

Cameron the Co-operator?

When I heard David Cameron on the news talking about co-operative schools I just laughed and went off to the football game. He even made the speech in Manchester with references to the Rochdale Pioneers, Fred Engels, and Adam Smith. Has he just reversed 100 years of Tory Party policy of being apathetic and hostile to co-operatives? I doubt it. The last Tory Government backed the selling off of mutual building societies, the TSB and insurance companies. Just to put the boot in they closed Co-operative Development Agencies.
Full text of the speech Conservative Co-operative Movement

Co-operative Party Reaction "Cameron tries to hijack Co-operative Party policies"

Blogosphere reaction from actual co-operators (it wasn't favourable):
Politics For People..Kerron Cross..Labour of Love
You can join the Facebook group : Is Divi Dave the poshest pioneer?

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Womens' Online Political History

"A fascinating online exhibition highlighting the political contribution of women in the 19th and 20th Century" is how the current edition of Co-op News describes

Some notable co-operators included - Margaret Llewellyn Davies, and Caroline Selina Ganley MP (Labour/Coop: Battersea South 1945, and 1950).

Picture is Milk Lady : An employee of the old Manchester & Salford Co-op delivering milk in Salford circa 1946 which is in the online exhibition.

Monday, 5 November 2007

City Manifesto

Down in the capital city the London Co-operative Party, with the support of the Labour Group in the London Assembly, is preparing a co-op themed set of policies for a Co-operative Party manifesto for the Greater London Authority elections in May 2008.
You can read about it on Politics For People - Beating Boris with co-op ideas

I actually didn't know Co-operative Parties wrote local manifestos. But it sounds a good idea, perhaps it would be a good idea for Manchester too. Reference : Labour's Policies for Manchester 2007

Sunday, 4 November 2007

90th Anniversary Dinner

Just to give a flavour of the 90th Anniversary Dinner, held in Prestwich on Friday. So why Prestwich? It was the constituency where the first Co-operative Party candidate stood in January 1918 (yes I know that makes it 89 years) but we're not doing it all again next year. Alan Brett, Secretary of Manchester Area and our own Paul Murphy, Chair of Manchester Area did the intros. Alun Michael MP was the guest speaker after the food. Finished with the raffle - everybody expects a raffle as long as it doesn't drag on. It didn't.

Picture is of some of the Withington Branch contingent. You can spot our PPC Lucy Powell behind Paul who is seated, Cllr. Andrew Fender (Labour/Co-op Old Moat) is to the right. Plenty of other snaps on Facebook - in Northern Co-operative Party Group. Also at
Chorltonparklabour published John Hacking who always takes a camera on his political travels.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

New Co-op HQ ?

co-op map Manchester
Click photo to see the buildings identified.
Dantzig StreetOn Tuesday it was announced 'The Co-operative' might leave the City Centre,' on Wednesday we get the reaction "Manchester City council today pledged to 'move heaven and earth' to persuade the Co-operative Group to retain its headquarters in the city centre." Quotes from Cllr. Pat Karney no less, here.

The Co-operative has a big collection of buildings dating from different ages. CIS Tower and New Century House date from 1962, the Co-op Bank is from the early 1980's, I think, and the one in the picture looks about the 1890's. Yes it's a great old building but it's a museum piece.

This story will run and run, just like the closure of the CWS Biscuit Works up the road in Crumpsall, 20 odd years ago. But as ever it's always down to balance sheet commercial considerations, such is the nature of a competitive society. Better get down there and take some snaps before most of it moves to something eco-friendly in Rochdale.

Comedy Football Draw

You'd think that making the draw for a cup semi-final would be straight forward. Four balls in one hat makes two ties. But it all goes wrong. It's the CIS Scottish Insurance Cup (that's the Co-op connection) at the Scottish Parliament (where else?), yes Alex Salmond MP is in the picture but it's not his fault. Apparently somebody wrote the wrong numbers on a sheet of paper.
Video clip from STV

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Up on the roof

Manchester Area Co-op Party visit to the CIS Tower, Manchester. James Siddelley, Regional Organiser does the opening speech and then scenes from the 5th floor roof to inspect the solar panels. Had to put some music here otherwise it would be the sound of wind swirling on a microphone. It was a good way to spend a Monday morning.

Music is "Madrugada a la Gil Evans" by The Paloseco Brazz Orchestra, thanks to CCMixter.Org where you can find loads of Creative Commons music with few copyright restrictions.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

CIS Tower Visit

Monday morning, centre of Manchester at the CIS Building and it's the Manchester Area Co-op Party visit to check out its green credentials. We're on the 25th floor so it's extensive views to go with the speeches. Mark Lazarowicz MP (Lab/Co-op Edinburgh North and Leith) is the guest, he's on the left in the photo. The chap on the right is Richard Scorer (Labour PPC for Hazel Grove). The Co-operative are very good and have sent their in-house photographer and I'm quietly snapping away in the background. There will be a video posted of everybody on the 5th floor roof inspecting the photo-volactic cells that cover the tower. We got a talk from someone who knew his science about climate change. Actually learnt something instead of just nodding to the rhetoric.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Football Co-operatives

Regular readers will know we often stray off into football matters, well we are in Manchester...
So reading today's Non-League Paper (£1.40 at the local co-op store) discovered a couple of co-operative football clubs that you can buy one share in and have one vote like everyone else. Your vote will even pick the team, appoint the manager and decide all sorts of actions.
Myfootballclub (IPS No. 30275R - so you can look it up on the FSA Register) has 53,000 members so far, shares and annual fee cost £35, and they are looking to buy at least 51% of an existing club, outside the Championship. Buying Leeds United is the favourite amongst the investors.

MyBUFC is a trust to buy and own Biggleswade United (it's in Bedfordshire). Costs £23.50 in shares and annual fee. Again you can vote on everyday actions like who is going to be the striker this week.

FC United of Manchester had their AGM today, couldn't go as was working. The share and annual fee is £10. You don't get to pick the team but you do decide about replica shirts and the price of tickets.

Monday, 22 October 2007

Cider, Manchester and a co-operative

Intriguing story in tonight's Manchester Evening News..
"Cider, a dream of Manchester...after some expert tuition from members of a Lake District cider co-operative, they were soon pulping and juicing the fruit to produce the golden liquid ...." and it happens in Ancoats.

After our day trip to Cumbria to the co-operative Hesketh Newmarket brewery, we'll have to track down the cider makers for a jaunt next summer. Story.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Half Yearly Meeting

So off we trooped to the historic Mechanics Institute in the city centre ( it was the venue of the first ever TUC in 1868 ) for our first ever, The Co-operative Members Meetings. Personally I thought it much better than the old United Co-op meetings. Maybe it was the Powerpoint presentation of bullet points of the accounts, instead of someone drawing attention to some glowing figures on page 42. It could have been the short DVD showing of the Stakeholder Report. Yes, we spotted Peter Marks (CEO) on drums at a big charity bash . There was even some footage of the Co-op Party at World Co-op Day last July - see the earlier post. It's very rarely anything with politics gets a mention at a business meeting. It wasn't all presentation there were some critical questions from the members. The loss of the Wythenshawe store in a Labour / Co-op stronghold didn't go down well.

Co-op Party DVD Clip

Taken from "A Year To Remember" DVD, it has some Co-op Party footage from World Co-op Day July 2007. It has Hazel Blears MP, Tadessa Meskela and if look closely at the start you'll see our own Paul Murphy on the Co-op Party stall. Don't know if this DVD is available outside The Co-operative United Region.

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Meetings 40 years ago

Ladybarn Co-opWithington Constituency Labour Party issued a ‘Year Book’ in March 1968. Year book is a bit of an over statement for it’s a mere sixteen pages slightly bigger than A5 printed by a duplicating machine (these machines still exist in museums). A copy survives in the archives of Manchester Central Reference Library - the sort of political ephemera you throw away every month.

It includes some Withington Divisional Co-operative Party details. The membership was approximately 10. The meetings were held on the 2nd Friday of the month in the Ladybarn Co-op Hall, Ladybarn Lane at 7.45pm. Chair - Mrs. Willoughby 41 Lindleywood Road: Secretary Miss H.F.Messenger 8 Westbourne Road and Treasurer Mrs. D.Crivat 245 Manley Road. Subscriptions cost 1/- per year (shortly to rise to 2/6d). That year seven speakers were booked and there were two social events. Contact with the Labour Party was been maintained through Mr. J. Lilley, a sponsored candidate.

That's a picture of Ladybarn Lane Co-op store and hall about 40 years ago. I've haven't been to that part of the city for a number of years so I don't know if it still exists.

Friday, 12 October 2007

International Conference

Whilst some of us will be making it down to the Mechanics Institute, Princess Street, Manchester for the half-yearly Co-operative members' meeting you can dream about what it would be like if you being sent as a delegate to the ICA (International Co-operative Alliance) assembly in Singapore next week.

On the agenda is a draft resolution from Co-operative Group and Co-ops UK addressing climate change. The resolution calls upon co-ops to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and motivate their members to a lower carbon lifestyle.
ICA Digest is now available - No 58 October 2007.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Online Discussion

There are not many multi-million pound businesses where you can post your questions to the CEO, get a reply and view everybody's contribution online. Thought I'd join in and post a question to Peter Marks, the Chief Executive of The Co-operative. He'll be doing the answers on Thursday 11th October 1630h - 1800h. So far only 6 questions from the membership have been posted. If you have your membership number to hand you can join in. If you have difficulties logging in there is a telephone helpline. I had to make use of this service, but it was very prompt and helpful. The Co-operative Membership.

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Progress Document

To mark Gordon Brown's 100th day in office, "Progress" (a political organisation mostly based in London) is publishing a collection of essays by senior government ministers entitled 'Beyond the first 100 days: Building towards a fourth Labour term' which set out a future vision for Labour. The ministerial authors include: Ed Balls MP (Labour / Co-op), David Miliband MP, Jack Straw MP, Jacqui Smith MP, Hazel Blears MP, Hilary Benn MP and Ben Bradshaw MP. You can download a PDF copy from the Progress website by following this link : here

Not quite Co-op Party but I did have a pleasant chat to them on their stall at the Co-operative Party Conference.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Co-ops Using Film

The use of film by Co-op Societies goes back to the early days of cinema. Still being promoted in 2007 with The Co-operative sponsored screenings of "Black Gold", and "Inconvenient Truth". "We Are Together" was shown at the Co-op Party Conference....hopefully this will get a showing at The Cornerhouse, Manchester and cinemas elsewhere on World Aids Day 1st December 2007.

On Monday 8th October Unicorn Co-operative Grocery, Chorlton, Manchester will be showing Power of Community : How Cuba Survived Peak Oil; along with speakers Tim Fairs (Oil Ecologist), Jenny Hall (NW Grower and author of Growing Green), and Adam York (Glebelands Market Garden). Even with the current rising fuel prices, uneccessary food miles and poor harvests there is a positive alternative. Time 1930h for 1945h, Admission £2.

Monday, 1 October 2007

Mutual Football

Following the Co-operative Party pamphlet ‘A Golden Goal’ back in 1999 the Government established Supporters Direct..the concept of democratic supporter ownership and representation through mutual, not-for-profit structures is still growing.

Supporter Direct Conference - Friday 19th October 2007, Manchester Convention Centre (it's a little glass building next to GMEX, seen in photo )...opening speeches by Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council; James Purnell MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport; and Gordon Taylor, Chief Executive of the PFA...more
The Magazine - September 2007 (PDF)

Sunday, 30 September 2007

Visions of the Future

MatrixReport released by Forum for the Future (by-line being Action for a Sustainable World) offers a glimpse of what the retail experience of 2022 might involve. It has four radically different scenarios - though skimming through the 64 pages of text and pictures I thought several of the theories could co-exist. No doubt they'll have been reading this down at The Co-operative. The research was sponsored by Tesco and Unilever.

"Research indicates that multinationals thrive in the 'do it for me' scenarios, whereas in 'do it yourself' scenarios there is a greater role for co-operatives, small companies and local more

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Election Family Values

PropagandaDo they make election material like this anymore? You tell me. "A family man for family people". That's the three girls and the missus with the candidate in an informal studio setting. Taken from W.H.Brown's election material for Mossley in the General Election of 1918. He was the Co-operative candidate, no mention of the Labour Party, but references to a People's Party. Not successful the seat was won by Arthur Hopkinson, an Independent. Mossley Constituency, near Manchester no longer exists but when it did it was contested by Labour / Co-operative candidates - T.W. Mercer, H. Gibson, and G.S. Woods (the later two actually won there).

Sunday, 23 September 2007

All up in the air

LeafletWent to the Manchester Area Co-op Party meetings. Two topics in everyone's conversation. The next General Election - will it be October? Please not November - the prospect of fiddling with gates and spring loaded letterboxes on dark nights is not appealing to a foot soldier with a kilo of leaflets . Let's go for sunny May and do well in the locals was the feeling. That's our member, and Labour candidate Lucy Powell's current leaflet in the photo.

The other topic was the restructuring of the Co-operative Party in the north of England. We're told there is a lot happening behind the scenes, isn't that a flurry of emails, and some big meeting in Halifax in October. The feeling was for a Greater Manchester Area Party and not long car journeys to cover whole counties...

Friday, 21 September 2007

Co-op History Group

AudienceThe inaugural meeting of the Co-operative History Group took place last night. A good muster of about 90 people in the Pump House Museum, Manchester. Heard a few short speeches about the resources available, and an amusing account of activities in Hull. A few amateur historians like myself in the audience but in the main most people wanted to be entertained and informed. More meetings planned by Members Relations, Co-op Group - United November with films, and January 2008. Hoping it turns into a viable network.

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Co-op Party in New Statesman

It's not often that the Co-operative Party gets a mention in the New Statesman. You can read the small article here

Then I spotted myself in the photo on the page. I'm the biffa with the bunch of papers to the right of Gordon Brown. It was taken at the Co-operative meeting in Manchester earlier this year. Now I want a paper copy and am wondering how to get one? Update it was at my local newsagent for £2.95 - it'll take a week to read it all.

I will return to the issue of wanting to read lots of publications on an irregular basis but have limited time and limited income. There used to be radical bookshops in Manchester and other cities but they've gone...

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Sponsors of Food & Drink Festival

The Co-operative are sponsoring the Manchester Food & Drink Festival (5th -15th October), nay they are described as headline sponsors, hence the name above the logo and relegating the Manchester Evening News - the company that brings The Guardian to people who'd never be seen with a copy of the Evening News to some small print at the base...more.
The Co-operative will be hosting a Fairtrade wine event, possibly on Thursday 11th October.

First Agent

Edgar WhiteleyThe chap with the fine moustache is Edgar Whiteley the agent for the first ever Co-operative Party candidate in 1918. In those days they usually had a committee running the election but he was the most experienced in election work. His previous success was in getting Victor Grayson elected for Colne Valley as a Socialist (not Labour Party approved) in 1907. Edgar Whiteley was active in the early days of the Co-operative Party in Manchester. Amongst other activities he was President of Manchester & Salford Co-op Society, ran the the National Labour Press, was a City Councillor, and in 1924 stood for Labour in Withington Constituency but lost the £500 deposit.

Part of the history'll run and run.

Mutuals Are Trusted

"People in the UK trust co-operatives or mutuals far more to deal fairly with their customers, than either Government or private companies." It's from a YouGuv Poll (PDF 10 pages - Political & Consumer Attitudes, commissioned by the Co-operative Party). I think after the Northern Rock debacle it will now be higher. No mention in any news report of the stability of those building societies that are still mutual.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Conference Moments

The Co-operative Party Conference 2007 compressed into 2 mins 40 seconds. The impressions from a delegate sat at the back of the hall. You might be able to put names to faces.


Whilst at the Co-operative Party conference nipped over the road to see the new Nelson Mandela statue. It's big and attracts tourists. Round the corner is a statue to Jan Smuts, and over heard a couple of blokes from South Africa pretty disgusted that he was there. Sort of what I thought when I saw a statue to Field Marshall Haig outside Edinburgh Castle. But that's history for you - it gets re-written year on year and sometimes there are reminders that it was written entirely differently. Everybody wants to be in a picture with Nelson Mandela, but people forget all the politics that demanded his release from prison - your average Tory politician (some notable exceptions) and the Daily Mail (there are never exceptions for this rag) had him named as a terrorist.

Monday, 17 September 2007

Bakery Bombed

For those of us interested in Co-operative / Labour history there's a good story at Hayes People History. The ILP (Independent Labour Party) ran a number of business undertakings over the years to keep members employed and to raise money. Notable was the Planet Insurance Company based in Birmingham. It eventually got into difficulties and was taken over by the CIS (Co-operative Insurance).

The launch of the Co-op History Group is this Thursday in Manchester. See earlier post

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Conference Stories - Fairtrade

One of the best events on the Thursday was an informal meeting about Fairtrade. Ample samples of Cafe Direct coffee, and Divine fairtrade chocolate...Made a short 2 min 28 sec, rough cut movie and it features Gareth Thomas MP, Andy Love MP, Nick Francis - Director of Black Gold movie (out on DVD 22nd October), H.E. Berhanu Kebebe - Ethiopian Ambassador, Innocent Muhezera - Uganda Co-operative Alliance, Sophie Tranchell from Divine Chocolate (delicious), Harriett Lamb - Fairtrade Foundation.

Conference Stories - Card Votes

Friday - our own Paul Murphy found himself chosen as a teller, much to his surprise. Apparently it came as bit of a shock to other tellers as well - see Kerron Cross "Ooh, I'm Telling". Nothing like counting 24 card votes before lunch. Delegates voted to increase subscriptions to 15 GBP next year. They rejected 12 and 25 quid and went for the middle option. There was no chance to keep subscriptions unchanged - not sure how a 50 per cent increase relates to inflation. Political parties are expensive to run as they generate more printed paper than ever in their history.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Co-op Party Conference

View Larger Map
Hopefully I'll be able to make daily posting on proceedings at the Co-operative Party Conference, Central Westminster Hall, London. It doesn't appear to be on BBC Parliament but I'm sure the media will be there.

If you want to know how to put a map on your weblog the easy way read this.

Summer that never was

The Co-op Party Instant Barbie - not seen this item on any agenda?

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Glebelands Open Day

Growing Display
Glebelands is a small workers' co-operative in Sale, just outside Manchester. It grows organic vegetables and herbs. They are having their annual open day on Sunday 16th September 1300h thru to 1600h. It can be a bit tricky to find on Glebelands Road, but it's behind a little school on the right hand side from the Washway Road A56 end. Map.

Monday, 10 September 2007

A long way since the days..

Excellent six pages about the Co-operative Party in "Co-operative News" (sept 4th - 18th 2007). Plenty of archive photos and a succinct article by Greg Rosen, author of the book "Ninety Years of Serving The People" which is being published by Mutuo this week. For anyone with an interest in Labour and Co-operative history it's a must buy, "only one proper history of the Co-operative Party has previously been written - and that was in the late 1960's." This brings the story up to date in the 90th Anniversary year with a Co-op Party member as Prime Minister.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Brewery Trip #2

Made a short video of the Co-op Party & South Manchester Co-op Members Group visit to the co-operative brewery and co-operative pub in Hesket Newmarket. See earlier post.

Post Hesket Trip

Our Co-operative outing, the 10 hour round trip to the beautiful hills of Cumbria. Hesket Newmarket co-operative brewery - it's very small, micro-breweries often are, run out of a barn building at the back of the pub. The Old Crown co-operative pub - it was small but they've built an extension for the sit down knife and fork meals. The village - it's small and appeared to be populated by people from southern England who want to live the dream - described in the talk before the tour as "Brigadoon".

But a great day out. Stopping at Tebay Services on the M6 judged by many to be the best in the UK, probably 'cos it's in private hands and not a multiple. It has a farm shop with real bread, plenty of cheeses, and as ever, endless preserves in jars with quaint labels.

Photos and video to follow in a later post this week.

Saturday, 8 September 2007

SMCG Meeting

South Manchester Co-op members group are meeting on Wednesday 19th September at 1930h BST at the Hardy Lane Co-op Rooms. Topic is "the Environmental Impact of United Co-op" (now United Region Co-op Group). This will cover progress on reducing our emissions, waste, water & recycling progress etc together with an over view of initiatives that have been recently undertaken, plus some energy saving tips for home. The Speaker will be Keith Maloney (General Manager Environment & Technical Services United Region). Keith is an entertaining speaker and this should be an excellent meeting. All Welcome

Friday, 7 September 2007

Vote For Food

The Co-operative Group is developing a new "Ethical Policy for The Co-operative Food". A have your say questionnaire is available online - it's about 20 questions in total. Go here.

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Nottingham History Booklet

90th year and a booklet covering activity around Nottingham. A short history of 14 co-operative societies in the area and how they moved towards a policy of 'direct representation' in Parliament and local government in 1917. Poorly attended meetings, eratic, reversals of policy, demands that "these devils should be shot", constitutional crises - these things happened 90 years ago too.

Read about the Long Eaton margarine outrage, Lucy Sprittles and the 'Mass Meeting of Women', the Society that threatened the Government with a local general strike, the sheep that ate the members' cabbages. And that was just one Society. Foreword by Prof Stephen Yeo.

'The Co-operative Movement in Greater Nottingham: a Journey Towards Political Representation' is available from the author, by post for £3.50 including postage and packaging from:
Christopher Richardson, 2 Devonshire Promenade, Lenton, Nottingham NG7 2DS.

Brewery Trip

This is where Withington Co-op Party & South Manchester Co-op Members Group are going - it's Hesket Newmarket village in Cumbria. The Old Crown by the red car, the covered market cross (center), and Hesket Hall on the right hand edge. One shop, one pub and one brewery and all of run as a co-operative. Pictures, video and stories to follow. Riding in a 49 seater coach with drink and sandwiches - bring it on Saturday.

Monday, 3 September 2007

Co-op Ethical Survey

"The Co-operative Group said today it is to poll its four million members on the development of a food ethical policy. It claimed the move is the largest poll of ethics ever undertaken in the UK and one that will guide the business's future responsible retailing strategy."
in Talking Retail, read more. There are mentions of ballot boxes in stores.

Also "Co-op Hits Out At Green Logos" in Design Week

Serving The People

"Serving The People : The Co-operative Party History from Sam Perry to Gordon Brown" by Greg Rosen, the noted historian of Labour history has been published and is avaiable at the Co-operative Party Conference, price 7.99.

You can read an extract here. The cover appears to feature the legendary tennis player Fred Perry, son of Sam Perry the co-operator. I'm not sure the people of Stockport where Fred Perry was born would have their town described as grim and situated in Lancashire as mentioned in the book. If you want me to bring a copy back from London, let me know.

Friday, 31 August 2007

Cucumber Story

"The Co-operative Food is to become the first retailer in the UK to launch “naked” cucumbers. Innovative box packaging will save unnecessary packaging while preserving shelf life and freshness." Link.
Stats : Sales of 10 million cucumbers means 8 million tonnes of plastic wrap - but not anymore.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Ethical Xmas

A xmas story already, oh no, actually I saw one last month with Harrod's having a xmas department opening in the summer, avoid the rush..

"The Co-operative Group has revealed its plans for Christmas 2007, and customers can expect to see a host of ethical npds, as the retailer moves into new areas of Fairtrade and furthers its commitments in ethical meat production"

It's from Talking Retail, and npds stands for new product developments for those not in the grocery business.

Monday, 27 August 2007

Blog Action Day

"It's on Monday October 15th. The aim is for bloggers around the web to unite to put a single important issue on everyone’s mind - the environment. Every blogger will post about the environment in their own way and relating to their own topic. The aim is to get everyone talking towards a better future."

We'll be taking part - it's not hard to write about the environment from a co-operative perspective. More details, and to register interest - link.