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