The Cooperative Bank and the Cooperative movement have recently been under sustained attack through the media. The inappropriate actions of one individual as chair of the Cooperative Bank are being used by biased and cynical journalists to undermine the important principles of the whole historic cooperative movement.
The democratic principles, structures and accountability underpinning lay involvement in the cooperative movement are ridiculed and ignored whilst ‘expert professional expertise’ is the only necessary qualification being promoted.
It is not difficult to see that the next step will be to criticise and ridicule such principles in the trade union and Labour movement, with the aim of depriving working people of any democratic voice in their organisations and replacing them with so-called expert professionals who will be regarded as the only legitimate option to run them.
Activists in the cooperative movement are struggling hard to safeguard the democratic principles in the governance of the organisation and the recent resignation of the Chief Executive shows they are winning the battle, though the establishment are strongly promoting the view that the governance is out dated and ineffective. At a recent meeting an activist made it clear that a board stuffed full of lords is unacceptable. We should respect and support the struggle that is being fought to protect the cooperative movement and its democratic principles and be on our guard that the next battle site is likely to be in the trade union movement. Democratically elected General Secretaries or professional experts leading our movement???