Democracy is about more than voting. Our membership includes many loyal, passionate people with ideas and insight that we could use. Our competitors would love to have such an opportunity.
The Internet (itself a co-operatively organised medium) offers many ways to open up and strengthen the influence of members. Opening up to social media should not mean some PR-driven communications exercise - but abandoning the culture of secrecy and control. It means listening to what members are saying and responding - at many levels, all the time. Members were delighted to receive an email addressed to them from Euan Sutherland when he took the reins - it felt like a breath of fresh air. For whatever reason they haven’t received one since, and during the Flowers saga the whole Co-op seemed to be in lock-down.
We are missing an opportunity to show how different we are. Unlike almost any other democratic organisation, ordinary members have no simple way of communicating with the people they elect. We must open up. We need to make membership meaningful for the many who don’t take part in elections and meetings.