December 20th, 2018 10:22

Ways Forward 7

Note: This thread was "forked" from the noticeboard to encourage more discussion.

Cath M in Leeds (Footprint/Radical Routes/Cornerstone Housing/CBC)

##Ways Forward 7, April 2019
CBC are seeking co-operators/co-operative organisations to partner in the organisation of Ways Forward 7 (working title: Co-operatives For The Many) conference on either 5th or 12th April 2019. This is with a view to those partner(s) taking ‘ownership’ of Ways Forward in future years.

Ways Forward conferences started in 2014, addressing the crises at the Co-operative Bank and Group. The annual event consistently addresses and influences the key topical issues for the wider UK co-operative movement, with strong international co-operative input. High profile key note speakers have included Shadow Ministers John McDonnell, Rebecca Long Bailey and Angela Rayner, former CEO of the Co-operative Group Sir Graham Melmoth, and International Co-operative Alliance leaders Ariel Guarco, Iain Macdonald and Gabriella Buffa.
The conference is affordable and accessible to a range of intergenerational co-operators, through relevant programme and early bird tickets less than £50 and some free subsidised places. Sponsorship from a range of organisations ensures more freedom of speech with no single corporate agenda. Previous conference outputs may be found at www.cbc.coop

Conference organisers are paid reasonable fees and expenses for their work, and co-ordinate volunteer advisors, speakers and helpers.
CBC have already had constructive talks with Co-op Culture and are seeking additonal expressions of interest from those interested in taking an active role in the delivery of Ways Forward 7 – a real opportunity to shape the future of UK co-operative development.
To express an interest, please contact cath@cbc.coop with a view to taking part in an on-line Zoom call of potential partners in mid-January Doodle poll link.

Mark Simmonds  (Co-op Culture & Platform 6)

Mark Simmonds (Co-op Culture & Platform 6) December 20th, 2018 10:25

From discussions with P6 directors, I think that we'd be interested in being a partner to WF7, especially with a focus on co-operative development. Let's chat about it at the Zoom meeting tomorrow.

Mark Simmonds  (Co-op Culture & Platform 6)

Mark Simmonds (Co-op Culture & Platform 6) December 20th, 2018 10:30

I think that P6 should facilitate a workshop on novel methods of crowsourcing/crowdfunding co-operative development.

adrian ashton

adrian ashton December 20th, 2018 12:02

maybe also how crowdfunding can be used to grow/engage Members too..? (interesting research stats from Nesta show people who financially give through such platforms also want to find ways to actively engage on an ongoing basis) - I was also involved in the world's first collective crowdfunding campaign (a temporary consortia co-op in effect)


Graham December 20th, 2018 12:45

Is there yet a focus on the theme/purpose of the event for 2019, or is that yet to be agreed? I've been to a couple of them over the years, and the impression I get is that it is at least in part about bringing the three legs of the labour movement together? If it has that political angle to it, and we can get someone like McDonnell or Long-Bailey along then I guess the obvious focus is the whole thing about doubling the size of the cooperative economy, which could include a critique of the 'unleashed' paper, and setting out some alternative approaches that might stand a better chance of success.

bob cannell

bob cannell December 20th, 2018 16:19

Im being invited to the Coops Unleashed implementation group by the Coop Party (along with Jo Bird, Alex Bird and a selection of other coop enthusiasts). Mark is right. We realised we had a serious problem with coop development but Im not sure this is properly realised, just how bad it is. We said that a national CDA is not the answer.

We also noted that the report included nothing about people. It was all finance and legal. We got 'Creating Cooperators' added to the list of working groups. This now changed to Education and Training which is not the same but ... the Coop College are now involved to push it. Basically not enough people know of the coop economic alternative. Coop loan funds sit unused because they lack applicants. Making more money available and making it easier to start a coop wont solve the problem.

John McDonnell is being informed by the process. He attended the first meeting and his political adviser attends. It isnt party policy so its a suggestion. He was an economic development worker at the GLC a long time ago, the GLC that did a lot for coop development in London and it's legacy is still there. So McD unlike many politicians has experience of doing the work.

Do please tell us what you want to happen in the Coop Unleashed process before WF7 and we can do our best to influence the political process.

Simon Carter

Simon Carter December 20th, 2018 21:21

As 'people' with a fledgeling coop, I can tell you you're not wrong. To be blunt, my experience is the sector is overrun with consultants, theorists, & academics. I recently attended the Coop Party annual conference in Bristol where there was only one main hall session involving actual cooperative businesses, which was far & away the worst attended of the day. Alex Bird did a lunchtime 'workshop' on coop businesses, which was basically one long whinge about the lack of government funding. Meanwhile, the only time Coop UK shows any real interest in my business is at renewal. Having spent thirty years in & around small local, very often sole trader businesses I have to say there is a huge advantage in the simplicity of the 'for profit' purpose. It's vacuous maybe, but it provides clarity. My overriding conclusion is coops are very often confused about why they are coops. It's somehow more a protest movement than anything truly positive. It can't even come up with a reason for its purpose, relying instead upon the meaningless catch all of 'not for profit'. Please understand, I'm new to the coop world & I absolutely love it, but all in all, it needs a ginormous wake-up call. Sorry to be harsh.

Mark Simmonds  (Co-op Culture & Platform 6)

Mark Simmonds (Co-op Culture & Platform 6) December 21st, 2018 10:12

You could also contribute to the Co-operatives Unleashed call for feedback here: https://party.coop/call-for-evidence/ If you're a Platform 6 member, you can contribute to a Platform 6 response from the member only Loomio and another response from the Co-operative Development Forum. https://www.loomio.org/g/RwbnzEXl/co-operative-development-bodies-forum

Mark Simmonds  (Co-op Culture & Platform 6)

Mark Simmonds (Co-op Culture & Platform 6) December 21st, 2018 10:16

@simoncarter I have to say that this is not my experience. One of our problems is that there are insufficient consultants to meet the demand for on the ground co-op support. I suspect that your experience has been coloured by the lack of early enthusiasm in the sector for the particular idea that you are proposing.

Alex Bird

Alex Bird December 21st, 2018 10:36

Simon. Glad that you were one of the few who attended my lunchtime whinge. It was intended to be a whinge about the lack of experienced local co-op development experts/practitioners. There are only a few advisers around now, and how Jo Public is supposed to find them I don't know. An internet search will take you to Co-ops UK or Social Enterprise UK, where you will be offered a lot of internet based generic support, or you'll end up with a local enterprise agency who will try to put you off forming a co-op. In the 70's we had local CDAs in most major towns and cities, and the number of co-ops formed was commensurately much, much higher.
It's not about the money, it's about how and where its spent.

Mark Simmonds  (Co-op Culture & Platform 6)

Mark Simmonds (Co-op Culture & Platform 6) December 21st, 2018 10:43

@graham from my conversations with CBC, the focus for WF7 will be around how can we (as the CD sector) ensure that UK co-operative development has the capacity and skills to meet the challenges coming from the NCDS and the Labour Party around significantly growing the co-operative economy. We should also ensure that the CD sector has agency in any wider process.

Mark Simmonds  (Co-op Culture & Platform 6)

Mark Simmonds (Co-op Culture & Platform 6) December 21st, 2018 10:47

@bobcan can you say more about the rejection of the national CDA idea. I'm not convinced either way yet, but see how it is a massive hostage to fortune. It would have the potential to be:
1) a massive pinch-point or
2) a point of failure
3) run by unaccountable "shiny shoes" rather than co-operators.
4) handed over to one of the existing infrastructure organisations who may lack the empathy and/or skills to deliver.

Mark Simmonds  (Co-op Culture & Platform 6)

Mark Simmonds (Co-op Culture & Platform 6) December 21st, 2018 10:54

Definitely @adrian - you can do that bit ;)


Graham December 21st, 2018 11:30

NCDS = ?

Mark Simmonds  (Co-op Culture & Platform 6)

Mark Simmonds (Co-op Culture & Platform 6) December 21st, 2018 11:42

Sorry @graham2 National Co-operative Development Strategy https://www.uk.coop/tag/national-co-operative-development-strategy


Graham December 21st, 2018 12:13

Any national organisation centrally funded is by definition a pinch point, represents a single point of failure, and is vulnerable to political attack. Waiting for a potential future Labour government to legislate for and create such an entity is a waste of time, and if it were created it would soak up a huge amount of funding just in order to exist. In my view if the people doing co-operative development are serious about securing substantial support from a Labour administration then what is needed is a robust national co-operative development organisation that is owned and controlled by the people and orgs doing co-operative development for real, and which has the hard-won understanding of how cooperative development works (and doesn't work) in its DNA. Whilst Co-operatives UK is one of those organisations I don't believe that it is the right organisation to lead this, as - while it has a lot to offer - it does not meet this definition and has plenty of other fish to fry. The CD community does have the required focus, I believe it has the expertise and skills, and it even has organisations that could be used. What we need is a clear vision and the ambition to get on with it. Within six months we could have an organisation in place, with a clear game plan, that is ready to be funded by an incoming Labour administration. Perhaps the Ways Forward event should be our launch party.
Even so, such an entity would still have the key strategic weaknesses outlined above. To avoid those risks, it has to be resilient, agile, lightweight, decentralised, and very quickly build alternative funding streams, so that when Labour lose power, which is inevitable, cooperative development can continue to thrive.

Alex Bird

Alex Bird December 21st, 2018 12:27

That was one of the reasons behind the formation of the development.coop. Unfortunately only a minority of the CDBs joined up, and even less got stuck in to building it. Thus it has now changed course a little with a new mission being promoted by Alex Lawrie. It is however already in existence, with legal structure, bank account, DUNS No. VAT Reg. etc. and is very much member controlled.


Graham December 21st, 2018 12:31

What's the new mission? I can't see anything on the website.

Alex Bird

Alex Bird December 21st, 2018 12:39

It's to develop a network of co-operative hubs. Best to speak to Alex Lawrie direct alex@somerset.coop as the mission is being developed by the new Board of Directors in consultation with members

Simon Carter

Simon Carter December 21st, 2018 12:45

Surely the point Mark is that every start up coop is precious if the sector is so desperate for growth. My post, although undoubtedly harsh, was prompted by Bob's awareness that the sector is ignoring people. I was simply confirming that this has been my experience. If I quit & drifted off, would anyone notice?. So much emphasis is indeed given to the issues that Bob identified that maybe the sector does lose sight of the fact that people run businesses, regardless of their legal form. All businesses are at their most vulnerable in their early stages. What your reply confirms is that people judged my idea, but lost sight of someone who had chosen first & foremost to start a cooperative business. That is what is important if we want more to do the same. By the way, the business concept continues to evolve, but no one has asked. A simple phone call from Coop UK twice a year to anyone who has expressed a desire to run a coop to ask 'how's it going' would make a huge difference.

Alex Lawrie

Alex Lawrie December 21st, 2018 12:46

Sounds like I should chip in at this point - with the new board yet to have its first meeting, I couldn't say that there is a new mission. I rather like @alexbird 's pithy summary above, but the text I came up with for a possible new rulebook was a bit more generic: "develop, advise and support co-operative and mutual businesses, and to grow the co-operative economy".
I feel that this is broad enough to cover @graham2 's vision of an apex body for CD workers, but @alexbird is quite right to say that DC is not in any sense able to present itself as a body representative of the CD community. I'd still say it's a better bet than setting up yet another talking shop though... we have an adequate supply of those.


Graham December 21st, 2018 13:01

Thanks Alex. It does sound to me as if if could potentially meet the brief.

However I wouldn't want to be misrespresented: I don't see what I'm talking about in any way as an 'apex body'. This is a term that I have a strong dislike for as it has all sorts of implications that, for me at least, don't sit comfortably with my vision of a collaborative network. Apex bodies are symbols for me of the failure of the co-operative movement to move or collaborate, a Victorian mindset that is doomed to failure in a high velocity digitally networked 21st century environment.

Simon Carter

Simon Carter December 21st, 2018 13:13

I appreciate what you say Alex, but the net result was a very defeatist, fatalistic, negative vibe, leaving me feeling very deflated. Precisely zero time was given to what can be done under the current circumstances. That's why this Platform Six initiative is so encouraging as it's solutions driven. We cannot wait for the circumstances to change. We have to look for answers where they are to be found right now. I'm new to the coop world, but I'm not getting any younger :slight_frown:

Alex Lawrie

Alex Lawrie December 21st, 2018 13:28

Sorry Graham - I stand corrected.

Alex Lawrie

Alex Lawrie December 21st, 2018 13:42

@simoncarter , I think you were unfair to Alex who was rather obliged to seek remedies that the sector as it is, is already well adapted to. However, if you made the same criticism of the prevailing business models available for CDBs to follow, I would absolutely agree. We have essentially two: one model of a community-rooted, trustee-run CDB that is so reliant on grant funding that it is practically a cargo cult; and one model of an opportunist consultancy, worker run CDB that invests next to nothing in market making or training up new CD workers and hence is largely parasitic on the work of a now-defunct, bygone generation of CDBs.
There should be no criticism whatsoever of the good people plying their trade within these models, who are wringing every possible drop of social impact from them, and heroically endeavouring to keep the CD flame alight in any form. The criticism should be of the movement as a whole which has tolerated the manifest shortcomings of these business models rather than research, develop, experiment and nuture alternatives.

Simon Carter

Simon Carter December 21st, 2018 16:09

If so then I apologies. That was not my intention. My criticism was simply based upon how I was left feeling as a result of the day, which is odd because I believe there has never been a better time for coops.

bob cannell

bob cannell December 26th, 2018 10:12

Why not a national CDA in England (or the UK).

Gets captured by the hierarchy ideologues and misses the point. Both CDS Scotland and WCC Wales promote Employee Ownerships under the name of worker coops. They dont seem to understand the difference. Not surprising since both organisations are management hierarchies with no concept of collective self-organisation.
A national CDA is likely to be the same.
This is not just my political prejudice. Collective self-organisation is probably the future of business and hierarchical authority an obsolete soft technology.

CoopsUK increasingly does the job itself rather than represent its members. It is taking cooperative developmental work that should be done by its members (because it needs the money to support its hierarchical structure). If I was a politicians civil servant looking for a quick 'good enough' fix to satisfy my master, I would pay CoopsUK to do the job.
NI has nothing. No CDA or CoopsUK presence.
The last national CDA (1980s) soaked up most of the cooperative development money but merely counted statistics and wined and dined politicians. It was such a bad example that ICOM (national worker coop association) lobbied for it to be wound up.
The Cooperative Union (national consumer coops association) was a wining and dining culture anyway.

ICOM produced studies that showed that where there was a local CDA there were many more local worker coops, clusters, in which coops supported each other. There was clearly a synergy. This effect and the coops died away after the CDAs lost their funding and either closed or switched to social enterprise development ( which the Blair government funded in preference to coop development).

Local CDAs had establishment costs (office, manager, receptionist) but they meant there was a coop presence in most large towns.
Us oldies know which local CDAs were the most effective and which not. So we could come up with a model that is likely to be effective locally This does not preclude national self-organisation as well eg a national cooperators peer support network. (Barefoot practitioners).

The Cooperative Enterprise Hub was a cost effective CD scheme (better than any other IMO). Admin costs were very low and most of the money went to CD workers. Its big fault was a lack of funding for follow up ( we mostly had to do that pro bono) and no easy way to provide mentoring (which all start up businesses need). Quality control was also poor due to the lack of admin funding. But I would love to see CEH2.

So Alex there is, in my opinion, a role for a central organising hub for local CDAs, Is that Coops UKs CD forum or is it the Dev Coop or what? Something new?

Simon Carter

Simon Carter December 26th, 2018 13:11

I think I have a certain advantage in that my perspective is over a couple of years & not over a couple of decades. I have no nostalgic baggage, history of false dawns & disappointment. With that in mind it does seem that a lot of conversation is about how to structure help for coops whilst very little attention is paid to exactly what a coop is. What for example is the defining difference between a coop & a social enterprise?. If that was clear maybe more folk would be attracted to the model & make coop businesses successful with or without help or funding. The problem would seem to be simply the dearth of coop start ups. How many members of Platform 6 Development Coop for example are trying to launch a coop as opposed to trying to decide how best to offer consultancy?. My personal belief is that coops are on the cusp of the next stage of their evolution, which will be defined by an increasing fusion between the coop & commons movement & the social &/or environmental purpose of the business. Coops are or should be at the cutting edge of post-capitalism. A workers coop that continues to share profits among it's members is still firmly rooted in the capitalist paradigm. As such 20th Century coops exhibited a schizophrenia that mostly just confused onlookers. It did me until I dug deeper. I'm not nor have I ever been driven by money, but I am driven by purpose. I'd start by clearly defining, or redefining the purpose of the sector. If that was done clearly & concisely I suspect there would be many more coop startups, with or without help. Once it is clearly understood it is hugely attractive, especially I'm sure to younger generations entirely disillusioned with the still dominant message that the main reason to start a business is to extract profit for material reward..

Rory (FSA)

Rory (FSA) December 27th, 2018 01:40


We don’t need to define the purpose of the sector as this has already been done to death by the ICA. In short, it is to meet the economic, social and cultural needs of its members (whatever they define them to be).

On the issue of for or not for profit - that is a false question as they can be both. You are on the right lines about purpose - they are ‘for purpose’ enterprises.

Lastly, this is also a false question.

“What for example is the defining difference between a coop & a social enterprise?”

It is a false question because cooperatives are one of three empirically validated ways of ‘doing’ social enterprise. If you get bogged down in this question you miss the simple truth that all coops that actively operationalise cooperative values and principles are social enterprises.

A better question is “How does the cooperative model of social enterprise differ from the social business and charitable trading models of social enterprise. That is a much better question.

You’ll some answers in this book chapter (due to be published shortly)


Rory (FSA)

Rory (FSA) December 27th, 2018 02:00

Completely disagree with this statement.

“A workers coop that continues to share profits among it's members is still firmly rooted in the capitalist paradigm.”

Firstly, it is not ‘profit’, it is ‘surplus’. The capitalist paradigm rewards financial capital much more than labour participation. A worker cooperative rewards labour paeticipation much more than financial capital. The basis for sharing any surplus is completely different (from different paradigms). It is not the act of sharing surplus that defines capitalism, it is the act of sharing it in proportion to financial capital contributions that makes it capitalism. If you share on the basis of something else (e.g. different types of participation) then you are - by act and deed - anti-capitalist.

Not sharing either surplus or benefits with members makes an enterprise a charity, not a cooperative, because the essence of a cooperative is to meet the economic, social and cultural needs of members. If those needs are met by sharing the financial surplus, that’s a good thing.

Simon Carter

Simon Carter December 27th, 2018 10:34

'Completely disagree' doesn't make it wrong. Profit or surplus is no more than semantics. Meanwhile, capital rewarding finance or labour is still capital, so I guess I must be anti-capital(ist), although I prefer the term post-capitalist, much more positive. Meanwhile meanwhile the growth of the charity sector very much parallels the growth of capital. In many ways it's simply just one more element of capitalism, much like social enterprise, designed to smooth off the worst excesses of capitalism so that it can perpetuate. Arguably the growth of both is no more than a reflection of the desperation of late-stage capitalism. It is for all these reasons that I have come to consider coops entirely unique. As Bob so eloquently once described them, 'they are the air bubbles in the bloodstream of capitalism'. Put simply I would say if you are a capitalist, start a social enterprise. If you are an anti-capitalist, start a coop. As such they could not be more different.


Norman December 27th, 2018 17:29

We also need to remember the importance of capital accumulation. When doing finance training I ask attendees the biggest source of business finance. Hardly anyone gets Retained Earnings first off. I was once in a co-op where a proposal I made was met by "so you want to spend £x/m of MY MONEY on this?" (Where m was the number of members and x the proposed spend.) What I thought I was proposing was that the co-op collectively invested in its collective future.

bob cannell

bob cannell December 27th, 2018 17:42

Since the daus of the Rochdale Pioneers cooperative accounting has been clear (but not always followed given the hegemony of 'for profit' accountancy practice).
The ideal coop is one run such that it breaks even financially at year end after accounting for suitable surplus for reinvestment for business growth ( for that coop or for other coops via a general coop fund). But because this is risky coops since Rochdale have set prices higher (in consumer coops) or wages lower (in worker coops) than necessary for break even. And thats why we talk about surplus. It already belongs to the members it just hasnt yet been distributed.
As a 'divi' in consumer societies and a wage bonus in worker coops.
Some well established successful coops like Suma can distribute this surplus value during the year as a premium over the market rate wages necessary to staff the business. And then distribute a smaller surplus at year end. All according to the democratic will of the members.
Some employee owned businesses choose to only pay market wages and a 'profit share' at year end, eg John Lewis.
For this reason some accountants argue that 'for profit' accounting practice is unfit for coops. Suma's big wage bill and small year end net profit both look very unhealthy to a normal accountant. They argue that coops shouldnuse charity style 'for purpose' accounting models

This would have the advantage of distinguishing between capitalist 'for profit' enterprises and cooperative or social 'for purpose' enterprises. But only in the coops are the decisions on how to distribute surplus necessarily democratic (but in practice might not be of course).

Capitalism is the mode of economic organisation in which the mode of production can be the private property of an individual or select group. They hire labour paying market wages and they own all outputs. The worker has no intrinsic rights to anything beyond whatever they have managed to claw back by TU organisation or law.
Worker coops have been described as associative capitalism but that I think is a wrong interpretation. It isnt the making of surplus value (over and above the costs of running the business) that defines capitalism it is who has the right to that surplus value. And a worker coop is clearly different from a capitalist business in that respect. This employment relationship is the source of all power in our current society. Anything which shows that it is not a 'fact of life' is therefore very dangerous, since there is no reason for this exploitative capitalist emoyment relationship to exist beyond the fact that people agree to allow it to exist One day they will change their minds, just as people decided collectively that we wouldnt be subject to the divine will of kings or prelates. Hence worker coops being air bubbles in the bloodstream of capitalism.
, once there are enough, it stops working.


Norman December 27th, 2018 17:54

I like to explore the reasons why founders and/or funders want a social enterprise rather than a co-op. I have found that avoiding democracy is usually top of the list, usually couched in terms of "I don't want to build a business and have it taken away from me." Closely following is avoiding equality, and avoiding fairness (equity.) As Simon says (sorry, couldn't resist) I think if we make the co-operative difference clear then it would be an attractive option for many young people who are facing a worse future than their parents and grandparents due to the increasing concentration of capital. Co-operation is self-help not philanthropy. As regards the purpose of the sector, replacing capitalism by reducing capital to a necessary input rather than a controlling resource would again make sense to those excluded. I wrote a blog post some time ago where I proposed that co-ops follow the strategic principle of "best obtainable co-operative option" or BOCO.
We also need to develop the idea that members are not only shareholders.
If there is a dearth of co-operative start-ups then we need to look at other ways for growth, such as a co-op splitting into two for operational management then forming a secondary for strategic co-ordination. However this returns to the question of how we democratically control secondaries.


Norman December 27th, 2018 20:02

Bob, have you tried value-added accounting?
(Revenue-nonlabourcosts=membervalueadded) Whether members take the surplus(profit) in wages, bonuses, shares or dividends it is still their money, and more accurately reflects the realities of ownership. You'd still have to submit returns in the conventional way however.

Rory (FSA)

Rory (FSA) December 27th, 2018 22:16


Profit and Surplus are different things - and the term indicates the mindset of the person using the term. Profit (in a capitalist enterprise) is the amount extracted from the workforce by underpaying them (and returning it to them is in the gift of the owners). Surplus in a mutual enterprise belongs (legally) to its members and they alone determine (collectively) what to do with it. It they vote to return it to members, how is that capitalism? It is their democratic right.

I see you have been infected with Bob Cannell’s view that social enterprise and cooperatives are different things. You clearly did not look at the chapter I attached (which shows cooperatives to be one of four approaches to social enterprise). So, if - in a UK context - cooperatives and social enterprises are different things, how do you explain the following:

1) That cooperators defined the term ‘social enterprise’ at a cooperative college (Beechwood College, 1980).
2) That worker coops and cooperative development agencies created Social Enterprise London (in 1997), the Social Enterprise Coalition (in 2001), the Social Enterprise Partnership (in 1994), the first Social Enterprise Journal (in 2005), and first Social Enterprise Degree at East London University (in 2001).

3) That the FairShares Model describes itself as a social enterprise model, but has ICA values and principles embedded in its model objects, and has been accepted by the FCA Cooperatives and Mutuals team as a bone fide cooperative model.

4) That the first and second widely used textbooks on social enterprise (John Pearce’s ‘Social Enterprise in AnyTown’ and my own ‘Understanding Social Enterprise: Theory and Practice’) are written by people with a lifelong commitment to cooperatives.

Bob continually misleads people on these points to protect and champion (very effectively I might add) a specific common-ownership version of the worker cooperative, but not the jointly-owned models, or empoyee-ownership models that research shows are much more viable and successful in terms of their long-term impacts).

The relationship between social enterprise and cooperatives really is not as black and white as you paint it. It is conceptually and historically dishonest to make the separation.

Simon Carter

Simon Carter December 28th, 2018 09:21

It's all subjective Rory, despite what the text books might say. Otherwise there would never be any new text books. Thoughts, & widely held opinion, evolves. Economics & everything associated with it, is a social science. It's simply my opinion that at this moment in time, the coop sector should be doing everything in it's power to differentiate itself as entirely unique, & I will continue to do my bit to that end.
As for Bob's view 'infecting' mine, it would be far more accurate to say that it endorses it. That's my right surely?. It serves no purpose to say that we are wrong, & try & prove it, except from an academic perspective. I want to build a business. I will promote as a huge plus that it is a coop. If anyone says, so it's a not for profit social enterprise, I will say no, it's a coop. The clues in the title www.just.coop/home.php

Mark Simmonds  (Co-op Culture & Platform 6)

Mark Simmonds (Co-op Culture & Platform 6) December 28th, 2018 10:24

Great thread - indicative of how we in the CD sector live the questions. Was thinking that we have strayed far from the original purpose of the thread - Ways Forward 7 - and that I should fork it.

However there seem to be several possible threads/questions/tensions that make any forking tricky:
* Are all co-ops social enterprises?
* What is our agreed definition of capitalism?
* Do co-ops fit our definition of capitalism?

I think I know the answer to all of those (you won't be surprised that it is consistent with a synthesis of those in the thread above).

However I'm wary to stir the post some more, so I have the following suggestion:
If you want to talk more about one of the above, or something else that this thread has provoked, then you either:
1) fork the thread at the point you want to diverge; or
2) start a new thread and link from this thread

Mark Simmonds  (Co-op Culture & Platform 6)

Mark Simmonds (Co-op Culture & Platform 6) December 28th, 2018 10:54

There are several emerging themes above for possible workshops at WF7, including the additional theme I forgot to mention - the tension between mutual self-help and charity.

Simon Carter

Simon Carter December 28th, 2018 10:56

I went to an event recently about the housing crisis where someone particularly affected uttered the line that has staid with me, 'God save us from another charity'.

Cath M in Leeds (Footprint/Radical Routes/Cornerstone Housing/CBC)

The zoom meeting of what might perhaps become a steering group for Ways Forward 7 and/or Ways Forward in general will be at 8.30am Wed 9th Jan. Item 1 on the agenda - so, is this a steering group then, or just folks who want to help or what?

If you want to come and haven't completed the doodle, email me at cath@cbc.coop and i will send you a zoom link. If you think there's someone i may have forgotten to inform, please remind me. I will circulate a draft agenda on the 8th - please do suggest agenda items in advance.

Mark Simmonds  (Co-op Culture & Platform 6)

Mark Simmonds (Co-op Culture & Platform 6) December 29th, 2018 18:32

Suggested agenda items (assuming that this meeting is for those willing to get hands on):
* what's been done to date?
* venue/date?
* budgets and sponsorship
* keynotes
* call for workshops

Mark Simmonds  (Co-op Culture & Platform 6)

Mark Simmonds (Co-op Culture & Platform 6) December 29th, 2018 19:04

I've just noticed that there is an existing Ways Forward Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/964129340273806/

Cath M in Leeds (Footprint/Radical Routes/Cornerstone Housing/CBC)

Item 2, can i avoid Facebook and leave it to everyone else?

Cath M in Leeds (Footprint/Radical Routes/Cornerstone Housing/CBC)

So far 5th April reserved at Methodist Central Hall, Mcr, day after the Coop College thing that Alex Bird mentioned. Booking form not yet returned, no payment made. Keynote suggestions so far: Rebecca Long-Bailey & Paul Dennet (housing-focused Salford mayor). Last year's budgets/sponsorship are in a dropbox folder that I'm happy to share on request with people who filled in the meeting doodle. And Josh & I are working on Trello, let me know if you want to be invited and inducted.

adrian ashton

adrian ashton January 4th, 2019 15:04

given Ways Forward's home is Manchester, and there's a Co-op Commission being formed for Manchester, someone may like to volunteer themselves for the commission so try and bridge the 2..? (but deadline of 10th Jan!!)

Mark Simmonds  (Co-op Culture & Platform 6)

Mark Simmonds (Co-op Culture & Platform 6) January 4th, 2019 18:07

I'd rather someone from the co-operative development sector did it and not someone from SE sector who just knows what a co-op is. Looking at geographical constraints (Greater Manchester) it would appear to be limited to @adrianashton @garethnash and me from this group (have I missed anyone? @andrewwoodcock are you interested - focus on housing as well as co-op development). There's also Dave Hollings of course who is not in this group yet.

Whoever it is needs to be available for the inaugural meeting in Rochdale on the afternoon of 13th Feb. Unfortunately I'm already committed on that day (coincidentally also in Rochdale).

Andrew Woodcock

Andrew Woodcock January 7th, 2019 10:40

Possibly @marksimmonds but when I read
the speck, you have to be based in Greater Manchester, which I
think would be pushing it for me.

Mark Simmonds  (Co-op Culture & Platform 6)

Mark Simmonds (Co-op Culture & Platform 6) January 7th, 2019 10:57

I stretched it to working in GM.

adrian ashton

adrian ashton January 7th, 2019 12:37

I can lob in a quick self-referring application (but given the role is unpaid, will be an ongoing balancing act for me with honouring dates to make sure appropriate voices are heard, whilst caring for the kids, and making sure I can still earn enough to keep the lights on...).
If no-one else expresses an interest, I'll look to submit something tomorrow to make sure the deadline of thursday this week can be met.

John Atherton

John Atherton January 8th, 2019 09:29

FYI James Wright from Co-ops UK is on the GMCA co-op commission and we have also put forward I think Kellie Bubble of Unicorn as well.

John Atherton

John Atherton January 8th, 2019 09:42

I'll admit I've not read this whole thread, but I am interested in the discussion about the role of Co-operatives UK in national co-op development. I think I understand the points @bobcan and @graham2 . We've pragmatically gone into a gap and secured funding for co-op development, and there is a balance to be made between what is kept centrally for resources and websites, and what is channelled out in direct support (some of which via local advisers). Whether this is being done as effectively as it could be is always a question (and always will be).

I'm more interested in why you don't think it isn't possible to work within the existing structure rather than create yet another one. Co-ops UK is member owned, and i'm interested in the dynamic of us/them with it as an entity, why can't it be changed?

Won't the best solution be one reached through discourse between the extremes of centralisation and hierarchy / de-centralisation and anarchy?


Graham January 8th, 2019 09:44

I would suggest perhaps Charlie Baker and Shaun Fensom, both Manchester people and with deep cooperative knowledge and expertise.


Graham January 8th, 2019 09:44

I've flagged the opportunity to both of them.


Graham January 8th, 2019 09:46

We would certainly want to involve the Commission in the WF event in some way. Might be possible to get Burnham as a keynote speaker?

adrian ashton

adrian ashton January 8th, 2019 09:48

thanks - my offer of 'jumping in' was predicated on wanting to ensure that there was appropriate CDB voices around the table, although like Mark S, it would be a tenuous link I could make to being 'manchester based', so happy to stand down.


Graham January 8th, 2019 10:08

Thanks John. Good that you've pitched in here. Re-reading my earlier post I think my key point is that Co-operatives UK is not wholly focussed on co-operative development, and in my view the lead body that is driving a cooperative development agenda nationally needs that focus. I give credit to Co-operatives UK for what it has done and continues to do in this space. But because it has a broader agenda it is my belief that it is constrained in what it can do. Of course I'm looking at the whole thing from my particular viewpoint, and I recognise that I don't have clear 360 degree vision, so I'm very open to discussion on this. I recognise that a key strength of Co-operatives UK's position is that it exists, and carries some gravitas. Perhaps the optimal solution is a semi-autonomous business unit of Co-operatives UK that can benefit from and leverage all the good bits, whilst remaining distinct and wholly focussed on the job in hand?


Graham January 8th, 2019 10:10

Good to have as many irons in the fire as we can get in my view.

Mark Simmonds  (Co-op Culture & Platform 6)

Mark Simmonds (Co-op Culture & Platform 6) January 8th, 2019 10:10

I've scanned up the thread and whilst I see mixed opinions on whether a national CDA would work, I haven;t seen any explicit suggestion that Co-operatives UK shouldn't have a role in UK co-op development. It may be that a national CDA accountable to the sector could be the CD Forum with resource from CUK?


Pat Conaty January 8th, 2019 12:02

There are some interesting developments in the USA with the emergence of Solidarity Economy movements in New York, Boston and Philadelphia. They are finding tensions with the NCBA, the sister body of Co-ops UK but seeking to work these out. But the way clustering of co-ops, mutuals and associations is happening in these cities and the Co-operative Economic Alliance in New York City is providing a forum may show us here the way for how to proceed at the urban and territorial level. At the Solidarity Economy Association we are doing mapping now in Oxford and talking to other cities about how the mapping can unite social and solidarity economy activists. SEA is also talking to the ICA about how the SEA mapping tool could assist them at this time of new wave co-op emergence in a number of countries. There also is in Spain, Greece, Italy and other countries in Europe a coming together of social movements. Hence why the Solidarity Economy larger framework that is wide than Co-ops UK to me is key and and could and should embrace trade unions also (almost new er considered part of the social economy)

Leo Sammallahti

Leo Sammallahti January 8th, 2019 12:33

Would be happy to help you to map the existing solidarity economy in Finland (commons.fi is already somewhat working on a similar thing). If you're not busy, would be interested to hear what is causing tensions between NCBA and Solidarity Economics groups?


Pat Conaty January 8th, 2019 15:13


SEA is working with the mapping tool with Ripess Europe also. This is a collaborative project. Problems in the USA are typical as the conventional co-op movements are not yet comfortable with Solidarity Economy movements that may be perceived as a rival. But this could be changed and it will take time. Mapping is a way to overcome such barriers and to foster a dialogue about horizontal solidarity - especially at local and regional levels.

I would suggest you email Colm Massey at SEA who is leading on the mapping work. He is at colm@solidarityeconomy.coop


bob cannell

bob cannell January 9th, 2019 10:37

FYI CTRLShift is 8-10 May in Stoke