As I think I’ve mentioned, I’ll be at the cooperative conference in Manchester on Friday May 16th, called by Co-operative Business Consultants and others in the movement to help pick up the pieces and rebuild.
I’ve begun to think about the presentation I’ve been asked to do for the workshop which bears the title corruption v. transparency. I’ve said before that a very valuable – if depressing – piece of work for a cooperative historian would be track the story of corruption in cooperative societies from the nineteenth century through the dog days in the second half of the last century and up to our own times. Why would this be valuable? Because it would warn us how not to repeat the mistakes of the past.
Jo Bird, one of the conference organisers, drops me an email to discuss the workshop and makes a very valid observation. She writes of Johnston Birchall’s recent report for Co-operatives UK on governance in large co-ops which lists several examples of corruption in UK coops: “Corruption and malpractice is not talked about enough. Birchall’s list was such a contrast to the unwritten but prominent co-operative value of delusion . Delusion manifests in attitudes such as ‘we are all good guys and rarely do wrong’,” Jo says. I think she’s right.