Why the shambles at the Co-op is so serious

Charles 9 Comments

One version of the “better” that mutuals have to be is that they have to be seen by customers to be more “decent” than other businesses – because that provides a motive for some consumers to spend their money with them.

And the second version of the better is that they have to be conspicuously competent.

It won’t have escaped your notice that the appointment as Co-op Bank’s chairman of a former local councillor with an apparent taste for hard drugs, a history of downloading porn on to a municipally owned computer and – by his own admission – limited knowledge of modern banking, somewhat undermines Co-op’s claims to be better than the rest in both those important senses.

Which is why Co-op Group’s review of its internal democratic system, that allowed the Rev Flowers to bloom quite so lustrously in the organisation, will have an important bearing on whether co-ops and mutuals will continue to be an important part of the UK’s mixed economy.

Robert Peston

In 2007 The Co-operative Board de-recognised GMB after more than 100 years, terminating a relationship that went back to the 19th Century Victorian era. This was a sad day for democracy, Trade Union rights and ethics given the background of The Co-operative movement, a group owned by its members which claims to be ‘Different.’

The Co-operative then found itself ostracised form the wider TUC movement … banned from TUC and Labour Party Conferences, Tolpuddle Martyrs festival, Workers Beer events, Wortley Hall and a whole host of other events and activities where they had been previously welcomed.

Statement from the GMB union


  1. Charles

    This story is almost, but not quite unbelievable. That a man conducts himself in this way is not shocking – it’s a story of personal tragedy – but his appointment at the very top of the co-operative movement is a true scandal and unforgiveable. I predict many others inside the co-op will face tough questioning about what they knew and when before this subsides to chip wrapper.

    I am sick to death of hearing about the ‘higher moral values’ employed by the co-operative group. They did almost bankrupt their bank, whose rescue is not yet secured and this story could possibly yet put that rescue at risk. Who would really trust the people still inside this organisation that put this clown at the head of the banking arm?

    The pioneers must be revolving in their graves, and frankly if still alive, it’s hard to see them using the present co-operative to buy a bag of sugar, let alone a funeral or mortgage.

    1. Charles

      Hi David

      I’m entirely with you on (sic), the constant use of “higher moral values”, this is consistently sickening and nothing other than a massive case of “aren’t we all so damned wonderful”

      those who constantly dispense such stuff should watch out, there’s only one direction that they’re going when it all hits the proverbial



  2. Charles

    My thoughts are with the many thousands of people that have taken out a pre paid funeral with this firm, to introduce a rescue plan or any salvage operation for damage limitation can only mean moving funds from one place to another.
    The cost of pre planning will no doubt be increased to cover what has been lost, And as for the antics of those that were at the top that have been exposed recently I wonder how many more will fall on the sword.

  3. Charles

    I worked it there funeral care for five years and I can assure you there ethos and moral ground is non existent they will stop at nothing to hide the disgraceful goings on inside there funeral homes. If others have been paid of to try and keep us quit I’m not surprised there in a financial mess the whole set up is run by conspicuous people

  4. Charles

    The sad facts are that in 2006 the average short fall in cash value of co-op funeral bonds was £600, with major concern raised over this through the CFSMA. Most if not all of the senior funeral management who raised such concerns have taken their leave of the business.

    Given the global financial crisis that has arisen since such time, coupled with the calamitous performance of the sole Trust Fund Holder of funeral plan funds, I think its safe to assume that the situation is now very much more serious if not critical.

  5. Charles

    Anyone who remembers watching Dispatches on Channel 4, around this time last year, will have drawn their own conclusions about the caring Co-op.

    The programme also featured two branches of Funeral Partners. Today I heard that one of their senior managers, who left shortly after the events shown on TV is now working as a Regional Manager at funeralcare.

    It’s a small world eh.

    1. Charles


      err…………no not really, imo, they all know each other and let’s face it, when you’ve been used to all of the benefits that being a Regional Manager beholds, you’re well suited to staying in the business (such as it is)



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