In the Nottinghamshire coalfield where I was brought up there was a Co-op on every corner or so it seemed and most people shoped at the Co-op. I remember my grandmother talking about her dividend from being a Co-op member/regular customer. You could identify a Co-op store as much by its architechture as anything else; in Notts and Derby they all seemed to be built in a similar and at times grand style. Many had a black and white timbered roof apex I seem to recall and I thought as a young lad they all had to be built like that.
Oddly and by chance I then moved at the age of 6 to where many people see the birth of the Co-operative movement – Toad Lane, Rochdale.
Much later in life my good friend Cllr. Bruce Hubbard became a member of the Co-operative Committee for a while.
The link below seems to sum up the ideals of the co=operative movement all be it in this case in America.
Here in the UK the Co-op company has hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons in recent times as its banking side of the business has run into hard times and scandals.
I have often wondered why the Co-op Party (the political wing of the Co-op movement) is still a sister party to Labour as it has moved far away from the ideals of mutual businesses particularly since the Blair years when it became a Party of big business. Indeed, the political will to promote mutuals is now far more firmly embedded in the Lib Dems than it is in the modern Labour Party. My years of working in the trade union movement also led me to think that it too is hardly enthusiastic about co-ops and mutuals generally. It seems that the potential independence and individuality of co-ops and mutuals can be at odds with many socialist ideas about centralist control.
I would like to see Nick Clegg and the Lib Dem Leadership champion co-ops and mutual ownership of businesses even more though because if we Liberals don’t who will in this capitalist world we live in.