Sunday, February 28, 2010


Robert Owen (see final comment).

As advertised in our right hand column, Steve Thompson will address the next meeting of our Discussion Group on the topic "Collective Ownership, Labour and the Co-operative Movement".

Steve has a full involvement with the Movement and is elected onto the Regional Board of "The Co-operative (North Region)" as well as onto their "South Yorkshire and Chesterfield Area Committee". He is also a Board Member of "Cooperatives Yorkshire and Humberside". He is a member of both the Co-operative Party and the Labour Party. He will be speaking in a personal capacity.


(1) A recent article Steve wrote about the Co-operative Movement appears here. He commences "There is an alternative to capitalism, it’s called the co-operative commonwealth. It’s a way of living and trading with business which is run democratically for the benefit of the members and communities who use the services. These businesses are not run for the purpose of making wealthy people richer, as in the capitalist model."

(2) On the question "What Is A Co-operative?", see here and then follow the links provided.

(3) The Co-operative Party is a sister party to Labour Party and works for Co-operative principles. There are currently 28 Labour/Co-operative MPs. Here the Co-operative Party web-site explains its role and provides an important link to its Values and Principles.

(4) For the latest news about the Co-operative Movement see here.

(5) See details here on Robert Owen (1771-1858) who was a founder of the Co-operative Movement. Do his ideas have a special contemporary relevance?


Ken Curran (photo) is Chair of the Sheffield Co-operative Party and regularly attends meetings of the Dronfield Labour Party Discussion Group. Below I present comments from him which arise from a discussion we held on 13th December about the work of Compass. However, I am presenting what he says here (an earlier version appeared on this thread about Compass) as his conclusion also fits in closely with the topic for this current thread which is about our next meeting on 14 March on the Co-operative Movement and the Co-operative Party. Ken writes -

"Alex Sobel of Compass suggested that 'Building coalitions with other groups was part of the Compass Perspective to secure a left of centre victory'. My words not his. While time didn't permit every theme raised about Compass to be followed, it left enough loose ends which require further analysis.

Bearing in mind that both the climate change dilemma and the current global financial crisis have a common root in the sense they are both bi-products of global capitalism, this suggests that Compass has not fully appreciated the true seriousness of the problems facing humanity due to the failure of capitalism. Both the Banking Crisis and Climate Change are due to Competition. One of the fundamental tenets of capitalism is the need for competition. Competition for resources, markets, profits, customers, land etc; none of our political parties actually call for another system on how to organise a humanitarian society on planet earth.

The only Political Party currently trying to present an alternative vision for mankind is the Co-operative Party, which makes me wonder why they are currently affiliated to the current Labour Party. As things stand, the two parties seem to have little in common. Common Sense and Co-operation go together. (New Labour still talks up competition). The disciples of New Labour fail time and again to produce any rationale to give support for their policies. On Climate Change and the Banking Crisis, New Labour seems reticent to engage. This is not at all surprising bearing in mind that it was New Labour who were in awe of Bankers, Wealth and Competition. (The truth is New Labour is a spent force. Its intellectual store was always rather bare. It is now empty).

When the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference failed to reach an agreement that would limit further temperature rises below 2% across the planet, all of our hopes and plans became academic as this signalled political failure and world wide chaos in the future.

The majority of Labour leaders are not leaders at all, they are followers. They have followed the noise of the uniformed mob. They have done this rather than engaging the people in a serious debate about the many problems of our very troubled world. They have spent years placating one group after another, rather than engaging with the electorate in a serious and honest way. The pragmatism of New Labour has led us into a morass of colossal proportions. If Labour really does badly in the May General Election, the Co-operative Party would in my view be the only political group with genuine alternatives to both the economic chaos and the challenges of climate change. It may then be their turn to call upon New Labour to stand aside and allow the Co-operative Party to assume the position of leaders of a new labour coalition.

I would love to think I am wrong."


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