Create an open, 21st century culture

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.


Here is the comment I just posted to Lord Myners: The Co-operative Group needs to radically modernise and innovate if it is to have a bright future. The current system of so-called democracy is a complete sham. Imagine if no one could become an MP who wasn't first elected onto their local counci and then elected by the council onto a regional body, and then... you get the picture. Moreover, in this digital networked and collaborative age when complete computer operating systems and the world's biggest encyclopaedia bar none (plus much else besides) are created by the open participation of anyone who want to contribute, we REALLY need to move beyond the idea that democracy = voting. So-called representative democracy simply doesn't cut it. We urgently need to re-imagine democracy as a genuinely participatory endeavour in which anyone who so chooses can become actually engaged in real, regular decision-making and doing.

Did you just get a standard response acknowledging your comment and suggesting that dialogue would only be available at public meetings which will be put on the website? Is this acceptable, it would have been relatively easy to email the people who have submitted comments with details of the meetings rather than having to check the website until the meetings are arranged. Given the timescales it is likely these will be at very short notice.

The Manchester Area Committee submitted formally - not sure what the response was. We would like submissions to Myners posted on this site so everyone can see. We'd like Lord Myners' team to contribute too.

Do we know if Myners reads this site? Surely you must know if he has signed in to be able to comment. Although I suppose he could be using an alias. Certainly I do not want to attend any meetings not 'on my doorstep' - they will never suit all Members. So why not use emails for all members? They do know us & our email addresses.