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There is now a substantial stream of comments and links from the press, as well as contributions from members, which can be found in the info zone "the future of The Co-operative Group" (under shared ideas). Reading through these you will see the different political perspectives of the different news titles. These range from the gloating of certain titles to sympathetic but confused contributions from others. Indeed with the exception of The Co-operative News (the movement's own publication) none of the press display any real understanding of the Co-operative Movement. This is a dangerous reality as much of the public (and Co-op Members) will glean little understanding (but significant influence) from these poor sources of information. This comment is not to lay the blame for the situation in the news/feature rooms of the press. As already stated some of the press are sympathetic but confused by the complexity of what is a very large and (more than acknowledged) significant global alternative to capitalist greed. Much of the blame rests with the larger Co-operatives and in particular their Management and their Boards which fail to insist that Management demonstrate the Co-operative advantages. Too often Management have played down rather than taken advantages from being a Co-operative. There have even been examples of Co-operatives hiding their identity. Given Management drawn from outside of the Co-operative Movement, perhaps we should not be surprised at their lack of understanding. We cannot however forgive those that refuse to learn about this important aspect of their role or worse attempt to change the Co-operative into something with which they are more comfortable. If Management do not understand the nature of Co-operatives and if the Boards fail to hold Management to account for such failure, then how can we blame the media for their lack of understanding. It is clearly the job of the Co-operative Movement to inform. Now, 'here is the rub' and some might say the unfairness of it all.... Although far from perfect, The Co-operative Group have attempted to maximise the co-operative advantages. They have championed the Co-operative brand, they have demonstrated their adherence to the ICA Co-operative Principles and in particular to fulfilling a supportive role with the wider Co-operative Movement. Yet it is the Co-operative Group that finds itself in crises. It is essential to understand that adherence to Co-operative Principles has NOT damaged the Co-operative Group. Those principles have served them and the wider movement well. Without them, the Group would have been in a weaker position at the point that the crises struck. The problems faced by the Co-operative Group are the result of many factors (not all of their own making). The Co-operative Values and Principles are not part of the problem, they should not be sacrificed as they will surely contribute to the solving of the situation. These are factors not known by the media and not understood by many. An unfortunate lack of knowledge for which the Co-operatives are partly to blame. Management must be held to account for their failures and Boards should similarly take responsibility for failures to hold management in line. However this is not a good enough excuse to hand influence to people from outside of the movement, it is the appointment of and failure to control such people that has contributed to the crises. There are vultures circling - we don't want to bring in people that enjoy feeding them.
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