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.