Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Tories Claim Cronyism

The Conservative Party are trying to make something out of the donations to Gordon Brown. We all know donations are a feature of politics, all parties and leaders receive financial help, and as long as it's in the public domain what's the problem? You can't run the show off your own credit card unless you're very, very rich.

You can read who gave to the mere 110k fund at ePoltix and the Tory spin here.
The Co-operative Party is down for £1,270 for vehicle and driver support.

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Circus Comes to town

We should have a competition, not a serious comp, just to find the most left-field, off the usual co-operative. We'll accept co-operative in the widest unregistered sense, not that we've appointed the judges, the rules or a nomination committee.

How about the Bassline Circus , a co-operative of creative individuals and a not-for-profit organisation. After Glastonbury, Winchester Hat Fair, and Cheltenham they are coming to Platt Fields, Manchester, Thursday 6th September thru Sunday 9th September 2007. Low priced affordable tickets, times to be arranged. If we get any other nominations we'll sort out a prize.

Monday, 28 May 2007


Flurry of Facebook activity. Normally I've resisted all this social networking milarky preferring the hermit life of surfing solo. But then i found lots of people i vaguely know are in there. Not that i have had the temerity to ask them to be my friend....
Even found a Co-operative Party group "to bring together members of the Co-op Party, as well as others who are interested in the Co-op party, their values and their policies." Plenty of Labour groups.
Not sure where all this is leading to, if anywhere? However it has opened up more focused streams of information which is a good thing.

More Black Gold

Article in The Observer "The hidden cost of your £2 latte?" which includes interview quotes from Nick and Marc Francis, the film makers of "Black Gold". Worth a read, and the coffee farmer receives barely 2p from that two pound drink. Story.

Sunday, 27 May 2007

Film Night is On

The real meeting is in the pub, and other night the executive got the diaries out over Guinness and Magners to arrange some dates. It all falls apart after the phone calls the next day when there are clashes and double bookings...

However we've managed Tuesday 10th July for our film night. Showing trailers, clips, and short co-op films. The main feature will be footage from a 1993 features many familiar faces, many on the City Council looking a lot younger. Venue is Hardy Lane Co-op Rooms, Chorlton at 2000h and all co-operators are welcome. Also on the bill will be "Unicorn Moments" an all action 10 minute short of behind the scenes at a workers co-op - no talking heads. If we have time we'll show a 20 minute video about the Working Class Movement Library, narrated by Christopher Eccleston - it's got plenty of Labour and Co-op stuff in it. Fairtrade refreshments as usual.

Saturday, 26 May 2007

Black Gold Screenings

Way back in January the Co-operative Party promoted "Black Gold" with a screening at Westminster.

It's being shown at the Cornerhouse, Manchester Friday 8th - Thursday 14th June - see list of screenings across the nation. Also at The Lowry, Salford at the World Co-op Day event on Sunday 8th July.
Trailer on YouTube.

Venezuela Co-op Boom

Venezuela rarely makes the mainstream news in the UK but there are a lot of positive newsworthy events happening there...

"to end poverty, put poor people in charge of their livelihood. A co-op boom turns the jobless into worker/owners." - story in Yes magazine (USA) summer issue. Co-operatives are now employing about 15 per cent of the population in a country where jobs are badly needed.

Also there is a film to be released Friday June 15th "The War on Democracy" by noted journalist John Pilger. Trailer here. The elected government of Venezuela is not on the White House xmas card list, they've tried to overthrow it and failed. It starts at the Cornerhouse, Manchester on that date, and elsewhere in the UK.

Essential reading is Venezuelanalyis and the Red Pepper Venezuela Blog
100,000 co-operatives in one country!

Thursday, 24 May 2007

Cambridge Co-operator

There are not many Co-operative blogs about - count them on one hand - but Cambridge Co-operator celebrates it's first birthday. You can read the press releases and then you read the story from someone who is actually at the meeting...Bring on another year of insight, positive, the highs and the lows

First Co-op Party Candidate

First Co-op Party Candidate

Another in the series of 90th Anniversary Co-op Party pictures. This is part of a leaflet for A.J.May the first Co-operative Party Parliamentary candidate in a bye-election for Prestwich, Lancashire during WW1. It was in January 1918. Click picture for bigger size. A meal is being organised in Prestwich later in the tear to celebrate this event. Note the Vote Early...and the Consumers' and Democratic Candidate. Didn't win well beaten by the Tory candidate.

Bank on MySpace

The Co-op Bank, and I quote from the press release "joined the wonderful world of 'online social networking' with the launch of its 'green' MySpace profile to celebrate the 15th Anniversary of its Ethical Policy. See it at goodwithmoney

Personally I find MySpace page layouts very restrictive and in most cases pretty shocking, crass, naff and garish. However full marks to the Co-operative Bank in overcoming the limitations of presentation and promoting themselves at the UK's 5th most popular web destination. MySpace is owned by the News Corporation but don't let that put you off...feel like I'm missing out not being part of the "online community"

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Deputy Leadership on the Web

The Labour Party deputy leadership hustings are not coming to Manchester. Alright you can't drag everyone to every major city in Britain. But you can watch what you could be missing on YouTube (the new political telly), if you have 16 minutes to spare....Link to video. Some of the candidates also have MySpace and Facebook sites (not sure who this appeals to but it's a free propaganda outlet).

Sunday 24th June, there is a Leadership Conference in Manchester and the results of the deputy contest will be announced. You can still join the Labour Party and vote in this contest. All very good for recruitment but highly irregular signing people up at the last minute.

Board Elections

The elections to United Co-operative - Central Regional Council were announced last night at the final AGM in Rochdale. Our own Paul Murphy was re-elected, along with Co-op Party stalwart Cllr. Allen Brett (from Rochdale). It was always going to be a close contest, with six people chasing four places. Hilary Marsh, and Duane Shepherd-Conwell both from Rochdale got the other two places.

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Launch of Co-op History Group

The date is way off in September, but the launch of a Co-op History Group is being promoted now by Central Member Relations of United Co-op. I think the idea is to record some of the history that is around today, not mulling over the past, ah the nostalgic old days when everyone when burnt coal and ate bread.

The date is Thursday 20th September, 1830h - 2030h at the People's History Museum, Manchester. It includes a tour of the exhibition "Battle of the Ballot", networking opportunities (talk amongst yourselves), and a celebration of the work of the Member Relations Committee. You can bring along a friend, so it's more the merrier. History might fill the digital channels as a passive entertainment but it doesn't drawn large crowds. Sending off for details...more to follow in September.

Monday, 21 May 2007

Last AGM in Manchester

Buffet Co-op Meeting Co-op Meeting #2
If you really want a full size picture, click away (warning they are big). We've got a buffet, and some of us from Withington Co-op Party - Kathy, Tom and Chris, and holding the voting card Andy from the Co-op College. We're all at the United Co-operative, AGM, at the People's Museum, Manchester. Got a kilo of paper reports on my lap, two ballot papers for elections to the board and members relations, a ten pound shopping voucher and a questionnaire that could win you a food hamper...

Manchester has a reputation as being a difficult meeting, but I notice the usual windbags haven't shown. So after 35 minutes the reports are approved. Liked the bit that all energy is from "green" providers, the irony that selling Land Rovers (4x4 gas guzzlers) has done well, and funeral division has increased it's market share in a declining market.

Paul gives the Area Co-op Party report. Nobody ever asks a question about this, no matter how interesting you make it. Members Relations as ever gets the attention. Hardy Lane store is getting a half a million pound extension, should be ready before the end of the year. We always get a question about this store - it's the only one left with a meeting room above the shop.

So at 2029h the vote for the merger. Hold up your cards - all for, none against. Then a surprise rule change to 106(c). It is to avoid any possible tax liabilities with the merger. Not sure anybody really understood it, five questions later it got passed all for, none against.

Put ballot papers in the box, hand in questionnaire, and some people take the invitation to make doggy bags (some literally treats for their big dogs).

Sunday, 20 May 2007

is it worth owt?

Democratic Poltics 1960When we clear out old books, pamphlets, posters & etc, are we throwing away something that's going to be worth money in the future? Maybe, but you won't know for years and then it might only be a few quid if you can find a buyer. Spotted this one "The Co-Operative Agenda for Labour, The Co-operative Party, 1995., First Edition. Printer Wrapper. Very Good. 26pp (Book ref. 6062) £ 4.00"....might still have a copy of this in my archives / junk room. Yes, it's only worth that amount if someone wants to pay that sum. Old Co-op annuals, centenary books can fetch about 25 quid and upwards...not exactly Antiques Roadshow. Even Kier Hardie, Robert Blatchford, Robert Owen, and George Holyoake material is at similar prices.

Wouldn't it be better to donate any old material to a good home, after all the people who wrote and published wanted their writings and pictures to read, even enjoyed. Ah yes it's finding that good home....The picture is of a 24 page publication published by the Co-op Party in 1960. I like those colours, not retro it's the original.

40 odd years ago

December 1966Platform - the paper of the Co-operative Party December 1966 - 4 sides. That's Manchester at the bottom and a college in Cardiff on the right. Seeing as it's the 90 years, might get scanning in some old pictures and old articles. Anybody interested? Anybody doing likewise?

Saturday, 19 May 2007

A tradition of difference

Interview with Iain MacDonald, Director-General of the ICA (International Co-operative Alliance) in The Herald (it's a newspaper in Scotland). "When I go to these countries they are fascinated that we come from the UK and particularly Scotland. In Japan especially, they know more about our co-operative movement than we do, and have a huge respect for it. The Robert Owen Society is one of the biggest voluntary organisations in Japan, and they make regular pilgrimages to New Lanark." - Link
Other references:
ICA Director-General's Reports
Co-operative Development Scotland

Friday, 18 May 2007

Turned Up Sent Off

Went to the Manchester Area Co-op Party EC, a small attendance, a rapid run through business...ended up as delegate to the Co-op Party Conference in September. Essentially I was the only one in the room who had never been. So all eyes fixed on me. I thought it churlish to say no. Looking forward to it, quite a few going from the Manchester Area as delegates from United Co-op Society, so if you're going too send us an email...

Quite a few activities coming up, the assistant organiser James Siddelly has been busy. He's been filling the diary into 2009. I suppose you have to when you're booking MP's. Anniversary meal in Prestwich. Why Prestwich? It's between Manchester and Bury with a tram stop. But, this was where the first Co-op Party candidate stood in January 1918 (nearly 90 years then?). Also an alternative energy meeting at the CIS (Co-operative Insurance) solar tower, maybe a bit of a close up inspection...err maybe not, might involve abseiling.

Got a Leader Get a Deputy

We all love an election don't it's to be a Deputy contest for the Labour Party...everyone has got a campaign website, links below...
Hilary Benn - (47 nominations)
Hazel Blears - (49)
Jon Cruddas - (49)
Peter Hain - (51)
Harriet Harman - (65)
Alan Johnson - (73)
The picture is another screen grab from the news report of Gordon Brown at the Co-operative Party meeting on Wednesday. Noticed one of our members Cllr. Andrew Fender (Old Moat / Labour & Co-operative) sat in the middle of the crowd with a red tie. Blog entries about the event at Politics For People and Chorltonparklabour

Thursday, 17 May 2007

Walking Past Gordon

Just been watching BBC North West and there was a story about last night's Gordon Brown meeting at New Century House. That's myself walking down the steps with a bunch of papers and the next Prime Minister walking up them. I didn't get to do the handshaking bit but our Treasurer Kathy did....
Photo Gallery at Co-op Party website

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Tesco Meeting

Tesco Meeting
A second meeting in one evening, back in Chorlton, organised by Unicorn Co-operative Grocery and Women Working Worldwide. Couldn't get in the room, stood peering through the door next to Cllr. Sheila Newman (Labour, Chorlton - and Co-op Party member - who made a good intervention on the insights of the planning committee). Well as you know you can fill a room with a contentious planning application. So the wider implications of how the few supermarkets chains are delivering globalisation, food miles, low wages and mono crop agriculture got lost.

Gordon Brown at New Century House

Gordon Brown in Manchester
So we're in the HQ of the Co-op with our Co-op Party invite, there are lots of us, maybe 400 or so. Oona King does the chat show bit, Peter Hunt Co-op Party Secretary has briskly opened the proceedings and there is Gordon Brown. He's good, you haven't been Chancellor for 10 years without being accomplished. The anecdotes, the praise to Manchester, the old trick of remembering who asked the question and where they are sitting. No big announcement, but here is the next Prime Minister.
a) Only took 3 pictures b) Gordon Brown For Britain. c) Manchester's top political blogger Chris Paul was there so we'll see what he made of the evening at Labour of Love
d) Co-op MP's back Gordon Brown - Politics For People

Monday, 14 May 2007

South Manchester Credit Union News

The spring newsletter of the South Manchester Credit Union has been mailed out. Some developments. A new website with details, forms to download if you require, collection points - link.
There are discussions to set up a Manchester Credit Union covering the whole city. There are numerous benefits. Members will have to be consulted, and will have the final say on whether to join the merged Credit Union.

The Last AGM?

The United Co-operative Members' Meetings have come round again. This will be possibly be the last AGM as United Co-op. Unless there is a big U-turn on the merger with Co-operative Group (91 per cent in favour at the Merger Meetings in April). For someone who has sat through Norwest, Norwest Pioneers, and then United Norwest the future meetings being a region of a national organisation may take on different issues.

Tuesday 15 May Wythenshawe Forum Leisure, Forum Square, M22 5RX
Monday, 21 May Manchester People’s History Museum, Pump House, Bridge Street M3 3ER
plus other meetings in Stockport, Salford, Rochdale & etc - see list
Our Chair Paul Murphy will be giving the Manchester Area Co-op Party report to the Manchester meeting. Plus there are elections to the Board - couldn't help noticing a few familiar names as candidates. Apparently canvassing to be elected is banned, so we'll write no more.

Sunday, 13 May 2007

Socialist Supermarkets?

Very intrigued by a recent very small piece in this month's (May 2007) edition of Red Pepper which mentioned a socialist supermarket in Caracas, Venezuela.... "visited a socialist supermarket in Caracas. So maybe you can combine the green and the red. In Britain we have two kinds of supermarkets that are kind of green and socialist. Waitrose and the Co-op. Neither perfect but strongly recommended over Tescopoly and Co"...

Trying to find out more but so far no results. Any info gladly welcome. Not read Red Pepper for ages. Well not since the Frontline Books (a workers co-operative) closed down. Not only has the butcher, baker and post office disappeared from the high street, so has the alternative bookshop faded from the town. However 10 GBP buys you a 12 months online edition. Highly recommended.

Saturday, 12 May 2007

Old building old institutions

Oddfellows Hall
I used to wonder what this fine old building on Grosvenor Street, Manchester used to be. Now part of Manchester University and the new big sign says "Oddfellows Hall". It was Manchester Unity Oddfellows a friendly society established in 1811. Still going, and this was them in 1915. The Welfare State (when did you last hear those words) put friendly societies in the shade but the recent Child Trust Fund has given them a boost. Who doesn't want a little tax-free savings. But it's restricted to 270 GBP a year.
Ed Balls MP speech 9th Nov 2006 at the Building Societies Association’s Annual Lunch gives some of the history of mutual financial institutions much better than I could write - link
Oddfellows Friendly Society
Liverpool Victoria

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Directive Dividend

A recent advert by Lincolnshire Co-operative offers 5 times dividend on fairtrade products, fresh fruit and vegetables in the 5 portions a day recommended list (you must remember that national promotion), and food produced locally. As Lincolnshire is a big growing area for England - think potatoes, leeks, and green stuff there is probably plenty to go at. An innovative co-operative dividend scheme.
Lincolshire Co-op (couldn't find this mentioned on the website)

Monday, 7 May 2007


I would never have predicted a British Prime Minister on You Tube, speaking in French for 3 mins 43 seconds...well it's happened. You'd have gotten good odds at a bookies if you'd have had that bet last year. Full marks for use of current technology and by-passing the distortions of the old media. If only You Tube had been around ten/ twenty years ago when Tony Benn was still making cassette recordings...actually the old socialist has some clips up there - link.
Tony Blair félicite Nicolas Sarkozy (en français) - YouTube video

Labour:Vision has released 41 videos so far. Maybe the Co-operative Party would like to consider this propaganda avenue?

Renewable energy and carbon reduction

Every month the Co-operative Party is publishing policy documents and May is Renewable energy and carbon reduction. So far available are papers on :
Baywind Co-operative (123kb PDF - 2 pages) - it's a successful wind energy company in Cumbria
United Co-operative Case Study (2Mb PDF - 6 pages with colour pics), Back in March the Co-operative Group became the first supermarket to pull the plug on inefficient light bulbs and domestic kitchen appliances. It has also set itself the ambitious target of reducing energy consumption at its premises by 25 per cent within the next five years.

For a list of the past months papers and the forthcoming try here.

Sunday, 6 May 2007

Sponsored by Co-op Milk 1967

Blues team 1987- advertising the Co-op
Originally uploaded by co-ophistorian.

"BCFC as seen in a programme from 1987. How embarrasing to have to run around St Andrews with 'CO-OP Milk' emblazoned across your shirt!"

Thought this amusing. Coophistorian usually publishes pictures of Co-op Buildings so this is something different.

Chorlton Arts Festival

Friday 18th - Saturday 26th May, and some of the sponsors are Withington Co-operative Party, Unicorn Co-operative Grocery and United Co-operative doing their community involvement. Glossy brochures through everyone's doors.

Co-op Members Group

South Manchester Co-op Members Group (United Co-op) have arranged meetings for the coming months :
Wednesday 23rd May Evening walk in nearby Southern Cemetary: “Wildlife and Historic Graves" led by Tony O’Mahoney. Meet at Hardy Lane Co-op Hall 1845h for a prompt departure at 1900h

Wednesday 20th June
Andy Pitts from Levenshulme Woodcraft Folk speaking about the current situation for refugees in the Western Sahara. There will be a short video and refreshments with Saharan tea etc.
1930h Hardy Lane Co-op Hall, Chorlton.

Saturday, 5 May 2007

Battle for the Ballot

Went to the new exhibition at the People's History Museum, Manchester - "Battle for the Ballot" - the struggle for the vote in Britain. Good to see United Co-op as one of the sponsors. Plenty of time to visit...
Saturday 28th April until Sunday 30th September 2007.

Soon after the museum will close for a year for a refurbishment.
Always a good place to visit, especially as it's free. An imaginative use for an old hydraulic water pumping station - yes they used to pump high pressure water around the city centre to power lifts.
People's History Museum

New co-op store

Work is now underway for a Co-operative Group food store in the city. It'll be on the lines of an urban metro outlet aimed at busy workers and passing trade. Not the place for destination shopping. However this will be the first co-op shop (excluding the staff shop at New Century House) in Manchester city centre in my living memory or for a long, long time...The unimaginative picture was snapped on Corporation Street, it's in the Co-operative Bank building.

Friday, 4 May 2007

Election disappointments

Labour only lost one seat in Manchester, unfortunately it was my ward Chorlton, and by only 42 votes. But we had some of our Co-op Party members successful in some wards - Old Moat, Crumpsall, and plucky second in Burnage, Chorlton Park, and Didsbury West....oh well, move on, we still have a Labour council and no Tories.
Full results

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

What is wrong with supermarkets ?

Unicorn Co-operative Grocery and Women Working Worldwide
Brief talks on how supermarkets are changing British agriculture, and how supermarkets are driving down wages in third world economies, bit of clip from the video 'Wal-Mart : The High Cost of Low Price' - movie
Wednesday 16th May, about 1900h until 21000h upstairs at the Lloyd's Hotel, Wilbraham Road M21 9AN. Further details nearer the time.

Merger to go ahead

"United Co-operatives members have given their overwhelming support to the proposal to amalgamate with the Co-operative Group. Over 91 per cent of United members voting at the society’s 21 members’ meetings held over the past two weeks backed the merger plan, with the majority in favour comfortably exceeding the two-thirds vote required for the deal to proceed." - Co-op News 30th April 2007

Just the confirmatory vote by United's members at the meetings May 14th–22nd