Friday, 22 June 2007


There will now be a two week break. Back for the World Co-op Day event at The Lowry in Salford on Sunday 8th July.

Labour History Group

The six deputy leadership candidates have today launched the Labour History Group's oral history project - an attempt to harness U-tube technology to bring Labour's history to life. More

There is a Co-operative History Project being launched in September in Manchester, it'll be good if it uses this simple technology which makes history available to the world - not locked up in archives.

Local Shopping

Received a few old pictures, in modern digital format. Completely out of the blue from one of our few readers, a chap called Michael. I'll upload the others soon. This is local bread, milled and baked in Manchester. Very likely it's from Canadian wheat (still the best for bread making), maybe it travelled up the Manchester Ship Canal. The photo is dated 1940, and I know this brand was around in the 1930's with a picture of a steam engine named "The Mancunian" on the wrapper. The 'National Loaf', was introduced in 1942 due to shortage of shipping space for white flour so who knows when production stopped...As ever click the photo for a better view and check the 7 points of superiority.

Midsummer Consultation

Besides the summer solstice yesterday there was the launch of the "Treasury Review of Co-operative and Credit Union legislation". The Co-operative Party has been pressing for a new act for years. Launched by Ed Balls MP, that's him in the photo. There is a gallery of pictures - Peter Hunt Co-op Party Secretary does the introductions etc, and Andy Love MP gets in a lot of the shots. Link.

The consultation will result in the creation of a cost effective legislation enabling the mutual sector to compete in the modern economy.

The document is here in PDF. Good weblog entry at Politics For People who were at the event.

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Film Night Still

This is a screen grab from the forthcoming video, simply called "Bye-Election". A bit of cine verite / home movie from 1992. Followers of Manchester politics might recognise these then Councillors in a kitchen campaign HQ in Chorlton. Isn't that chap on the left MP for Manchester Blackley these days? All will be revealed at the Film Night Tuesday 10th July, Hardy Lane Co-op Rooms 2000h.

Unity Trust Bank

Thought I'd give a plug for the Unity Trust Bank who have served Withington Co-op Party well and with no bank charges over the years. It's not a capitalist bank as the shareholders are trade unions (73.4 pct) and the Co-operative Bank (26.6 pct). Set up 23 years ago, it handles accounts for charities, trade union branches, credit unions and membership organisations. HQ is in Birmingham but you can pay your cheques into at a high street bank of your choice and do everything else online. They also send out regular informative newsletters, not leaflets to take out loans. Link

First Co-op Candidate in Manchester

T.W. Mercer, of the Co-operative Union, was nominated to fight the Moss Side constituency for the 1922 General Election. This was the first time Moss Side had the choice besides Liberals or Conservative. Manchester then had 8 seats in Parliament, and it was the first in the city to nominate a Co-operative Party candidate. Didn't win. It was not until 1945 that Labour captured the seat with Will Griffiths.

T.W. Mercer (1885-1947) was a notable writer on co-operative matters. Cambridge Co-operator did a review of one of his books, still available, last month. Link

Click the pic to get the full text.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Western Sahara Talk

Went to the South Manchester Members Co-op Group meeting tonight. What a cheerful friendly lot. Got a brief talk, a short video. A cup of tea, dried fruits and jaffa cakes - the sort of meeting that's low on paper and big on informal chatting. In short a group of ten young Sahrawis are coming to Manchester for the summer. Money has been raised, Virgin have paid for the flights and trains, and hopefully the story will get into the local media. There has been an irregular commitment to the Western Sahara by the local Woodcraft Folk groups for the past 15 years with visits there and here.
Western Sahara - Wikipedia

Old Labour Old Co-op

It's 1964 and if you want to read the full text click the picture. 43 years ago and the paragraph on Social Ownership is old Labour, oh how times have changed. Are there any companies in state or municipal ownership left in the UK, besides the Bank of England ?

'The Co-operative Party, the manifesto states, has always believed that the "commanding heights" of the economy must be publicly owned and accountable to consumers, workers and Parliament. When necessary new state enterprises should be created to take advantage of scientific research.

Key industries that fail the nation should be taken into public ownership; and where appropriate consumers' co-operatives, producers co-operatives and municipal enterprises should be encouraged'

These are the days when Harold Wilson promised to forge that white heat of technology and the coal mines were still open.

99 goes Fairtrade

It might take a while to appear on the shelves at my local co-op but the Fairtrade version of "99 Tea" has been launched. It's got a brown top not red'un.

Co-operative first in Fair Trade :
1992 first supermarket to embrace Fairtrade by stocking Cafédirect.
2000 UK's first Fairtrade bananas.
2000 Co-op Milk Chocolate 45g was the UK's 1st own-brand product withFAIRTRADE Mark.
2002 the Co-op converted its own-brand block chocolate range to Fairtrade.
2003 the Co-op converted its own-brand coffee range to Fairtrade.
2003 introduced the world's first Fairtrade mangoes and pineapples.
2004 Chilean Carmenère was the UK's first fairly-traded supermarket own-brand wine.
2006 5w own-label wines from the Du Toitskloof co-operative in South Africa. The wines are all produced from grapes grown by the 22 farms belonging to the co-operative. This is one of the largest Fairtrade projects in the world.
2006 launched the UK's first Fairtrade wines from Argentina.
2007 first supermarket Fairtrade cotton Bag for Life.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Hardy Lane

A photo from 23rd November 1929 at the opening of the Hardy Lane Co-op Store. Well we still have meetings there, and so do the Labour Party, Woodcraft Folk and other groups. I'm told it's the last remaining co-op rooms of United Co-op. Once there were meeting rooms above lots of co-op stores across Britain, a feature going back to the Rochdale Pioneers.

Currently making a short video / slideshow of photos about the rooms. It largely consists of snaps of it being a Committee Room in various General Elections. There is some moving footage of the steepest flight of stairs in Manchester to get to the rooms above the shop. To be shown at our film night on Tuesday 10th July and then on the web.

The shop was the 9th opened that year by Manchester & Salford Co-op Society. They signed up 105 members almost immediately.

Espana News

Special English language edition of "Empresa y Trabajo" published, and you can obtain all 8 pages of it online. Published by the Spanish Confederation of Worker Co-operatives, COCETA. Colour photos, news from Spain, EU and Africa. I liked the solar powered delivery van. Lot going on.

Monday, 18 June 2007

South Manchester Co-op Members

South Manchester Members Group -
Wednesday 20th June 1930h Hardy Lane Co-op Hall, Chorlton
Andy Pitts from Levenshulme Woodcraft Folk speaking about the current situation for refugees in the Western Sahara. Well this one has dragged on since 1975. I got back up to speed by watching Inside View on Al Jazeera English TV - if you've got a few minutes you can view the clip by following the link.

Wednesday July 18th 1900h Hardy Lane Co-op Hall, Chorlton
Summer party with guest speaker Tracey Pook, Chair of the Friends of Chorlton Water Park who will update us about the campaign against the cuts being made by Trafford Council.

Friday, 15 June 2007

Time for a party

Before the formation of the Co-op Representation Committee in 1917 (the Co-operative Party name came later) there had been murmerings to take political action 20 years earlier.

Expressions in favour of independent political action were also being canvassed within the Co-operative Movement and given expression at the Congress of 1897 in the presidential address of William Maxwell of the Scottish CWS.

"I do not seek to introduce politics into co-operation, but I am most anxious to see co-operation introduced more into politics," he said. Furthermore delegates gave wholehearted backing to Norwich Society's resolution stating that, "the time has arrived for the direct representation of the Co-operative Movement in Parliament" and called for steps to be taken in that direction.

Afterwards, when individual societies, of which there were more than 1,600 at the time, were sounded-out, only about one in 20 reveled positive interest in proceeding any further. The issue came to naught, for the time being, at the Congress of 1900.

By this time, the TUC had already gone ahead and convened the "Conference on Labour Representation" in London at the Memorial Hall, Farringdon Street, London, in February 1900.

John Merrett Bloom article, Co-operative News, August 10th 1999. Photo is Congress President William Maxwell

Part of the Co-operative Party 90th Anniversary history series.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Barlow Moor Banner

Photo from 1988, 1989 or even later? It looks like a Chorlton Labour Party branch meeting at the Co-op Rooms, Hardy Lane, so it will be either be a shortlisting or selection meeting. A few Co-op Party members in there as well - Secretary and Chair in the centre. That's the first Labour Councillor for Chorlton 2nd right. Note the banner in the background which hung in the room for years and years. It was taken away in 1994 for the 150th Co-operative movement celebrations and is in an archive somewhere. The Manchester & Salford Barlow Moor Mixed Guild banner. Looks like a white peace poppy in the centre, can't see it being a white rose in Lancashire. Don't know if it was paraded about before being put behind the glass case.

Part of the Co-op Party history series for the 90th year anniversary.

Monday, 11 June 2007

Together Works

Together Works is a new innovative member controlled network of social enterprises in Greater Manchester. Soon to be registered as a co-operative Community Interests Company. Just been reading their Summer 2007 newsletter, which is at issue 7? The previous 6 appear to have passed me by? Anyway there is a lot going on with stories from small worker co-ops and community cafes to bigger players like Co-operative Group, and Edinburgh Bicycle Co-op.
The website has lots more info. The online edition of the newsletter only includes the main articles.

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Manchester Banner

I remember this banner, should do, that's me on the photo checking the coins. Not sure of the date - 1986, 1989, 1991? Cllr. Marilyn Taylor is in the yellow top. We're selling second hand books which I think had been collected by Burnage Labour Party. It was a big event in the Town Hall, Manchester put on by the Woodcraft Folk. I thought at the time it was a good idea selling the books, otherwise we'd have stood there with a few leaflets and no punters. The Manchester Area Co-op Party banner was made of plastic, and it's probably in somebody's garage lying forgotten.

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Co-operative Footie

The readers of this weblog will know of our interest in football, this is Manchester after all, and the split in the membership is probably 50-50 reds and light blues. So a nice news story about co-ops & footie :

"Porthmadog Football Club in Gwynedd has secured funding from The Co-operative Loan Fund to build a new hub for its local community. The social club - which will be adjoined to the Porthmadog FC stadium - will provide a welcome point for football fans and tourists to the area, and it will also act as a community centre for local residents to enjoy and utilise for events."

Porthmadog are in the Welsh Premier League and finished mid-table last season. As usual TNS, ( now called The New Saints since the sponsorship deal ended) were champions again so they play a few games in the UEFA Champions League.

Story here at Co-ops UK
Official Site - Porthmadog Football Club / Porthmadog Clwb Pel Droed

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

G.D.H Cole on the Co-op Party

This booklet, published in 1944 is a like a primer in left of centre politics covering trade unions, the Co-op, Labour and the smaller Communist Party, Common Wealth (3 MP's in 1944), Fabians and ILP...

"The Co-operative Party has a working arrangement with the Labour Party, but is not affiliated to it. On paper the Co-operative Party has a much larger membership than the Labour Party (7 millions in 1943). Co-operative Societies are not under the Trade Union Act, and can affiliate their entire membership by a simple majority vote. But the Co-operative Party is only organised effectively in a few constituencies, where its candidates receive Labour support. It has never put up more than a few candidates for Parliament;: indeed, there is obviously not room for two working-class parties appealing mainly to the same voters, and the two can exist side by side without disaster only by mutual arrangement to avoid conflict. The Co-operative Party was only started in 1917, mainly as a protest against unfair taxation of Co-operative Societies during the first World War. The Co-operative Movement has not yet entered politics in more than a half-hearted way. If it did, there would have to be a very close working arrangement, if not an actual fusion between the Labour Party and the Co-operative Party, which are not divided by serious differences of immediate policy, though the Labour Party's professed aim is Socialism and that of the Co-operative Party the 'Co-operative Commonwealth' -both ideals which can be interpreted in more than one way."
- from The British Working-Class Movement : an outline study guide by G.D.H Cole, Fabian Special Number 7, July 1944 - 24 pages. The Co-operative Party had 9 M.P's in 1944.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Co-op Party Banner

This banner hangs in the People's History Museum, Manchester. It looks better in textile than my under-exposed camphone picture. A little of it's story is a great book called "Images of Labour" by John Gorman (1985).
"The Bethnal Green Co-operative Party seems to have been formed in around 1928, though as the records are missing it is unverified. The banner of the party was unfurled by Harry Tate, the local secretary, at a small ceremony held in the Labour Party rooms in Bethnal Green Road on 4th July 1957. Presented by the Political Committee of the London Co-operative Society, the banner was subsequently paid for by the running of a football tote by the local party members....The banner was regularly carried on May Day marches in London until Bethnal Green party became part of the Tower Hamlets Co-operative Party".

This is part of a history series for the 90th anniversary of the Co-op Party. Next item will be a Manchester banner from the 1990's.

Monday, 4 June 2007

Film Night Correction

Did no one spot the mistake in the earlier post? The Co-operative Film Night is Tuesday 10th July, Hardy Lane as per usual. The bye-election in one of the videos took place in 1993, not 1992. So long ago it's all becomes a blur. But I found a scrapbook of newspaper cuttings and leaflets and it was definitely 1993.

Thanks to everyone who has replied on Facebook, the current way of communication. Who'd have thought Facebook gets more traffic than eBay these days.

Sunday, 3 June 2007

First Co-op MP

This is Alfred Edward Waterson the first Co-operative Party MP who won Kettering in 1918. He took the Labour whip in Parliament, ahead of any decision of Co-operative Congress to progress a formal alliance with the Labour Party. The Co-operative Party put up 10 candidates in that General Election. Waterson was defeated at the 1922 general election. He then became the national organiser of the Co-operative Party, serving until 1945. There is a dodgy picture of Alfred Waterson and a report of the election in Co-operative News - January 4th 1919 in this picture. The seat was re-won in 1923 by S.F. Perry for Labour Co-operative, a noted co-operator and father of the famous tennis player Fred Perry. All this trivia - Kettering also returned John Profumo for the Conservatives in a bye-election in 1940.

This is part of a history series for the 90th anniversary of the Co-op Party. A bit more dig out - a party split in the Manchester, old meeting rooms, banners, and blokes with mustaches.