Historic meeting of Cross Party Groups from the devolved nations

Co-operators and elected representatives from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland met for the first time on Feb 5th 2016 at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh to discuss how to take forward the co-operative agenda in their regions.


The private meeting, organised jointly by the Cross party Groups’ secretariats, myself, Erskine Holmes and James Proctor featured members of the Cross-Party Groups in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. A previous meeting held in Cardiff in 2012 had only had Members from two of the three regions able to attend. Continue reading

It’s all about the hyphen

My fellow Bathonion, Sir Isaac Pitman, the inventor of Pitman shorthand, founder of the Pitman Press, and a bit of a spelling fanatic, argued that the hypen in co-operator was really important to distinguish us from barrel makers. I’ve always agreed with him on that.

Our American cousins, in their desire to simplify spelling, dropped the hyphen centuries ago, but not everyone in the world always agreed with them. So when 2012, the International Year of Co-operators (IYC) came along, a small contest developed. As the IYC was a United Nations project (although it came from an ICA initiative) and they’re based in New York, it developed a logo sans hyphen. The logo was tightly controlled by a legal agreement on its use, which you had to sign before you could download the image files, and which stipulated how exactly it had to be used. The Canadians, however, had different ideas.

2012 IYC Hyphen 2012 IYC

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Message from Steve Garrett @ the Jungle in Calais

Just got this message from Steve Garrett of Cultural Concerns in Cardiff:-

Dear all

I’m back in Cardiff  from Calais (Ben from Parsnipship that I went out with is back tomorrow) after some pretty knackering days working with many volunteers from all over Europe, chopping vegetables, washing up etc. and distributing food in the camps.

‘The Jungle’ camp is a muddy and depressing place, people living in tents and shacks, and because no one’s sure how long they’ll be there, some little shops and cafes have even sprung up… and two ramshackle churches.
Although we were doing ‘good work’ (probably served at least 1000 meals a day, mostly to young men) I felt angry and ashamed that UK government has spent millions building a high security fence around the port, but nothing to improve the terrible conditions for the desperate 6 thousand (maybe more, and more coming for sure) in the camp.

They head to the UK because, amongst other reasons, of our reputation for fairness and tolerance! Now people are feeling stuck in the camp, with hope (that essential quality of life) fading.

Will get together with Ben when he’s back for a debrief and to prepare a more detailed bulletin about the situation for people who are interested.
I also intend to lobby Welsh Government to take more of a stand (and more action) on this totally inhumane situation. Let me know if you’d like to be involved


Follow Steve @ http://www.culturalconcerns.org.uk
ollow Ben @ https://theparsnipship.co.uk

These links to recent articles in The Guardian give an accurate picture of the situation in the Calais refugee camp.





The only difference is that the pictures in the photo essay were obviously taken in summer – imagine the same scenes ankle deep in mud under grey rainy skies to get a sense of what it looks like now.

Arizmendiarrieta at 100

TU Lankide

22 April 2015, was the hundredth anniversary of the birth of José María Arizmendiarrieta Madariaga, the founder of the Mondragon co-operatives.

An important event to commemorate the birth of the man who inspired the Cooperative Experience which started in Arrasate-Mondragón. “Don José María”, as he was known by his fellow students, was a visionary priest (ideologist of projects such as Caja Laboral Popular, Ikerlan, Mondragon Unibertsitatea, Alecop, Auzo Lagun…), a tireless worker and a creator of hope and shared community projects. In short, a unique person to whom the Basque co-op movement wish to pay a double tribute: firstly, in recognition of both his role and his contribution to business and social development; and secondly, to disseminate his ideals and delve deeper into the Arizmendian values.

In TU lankide, the magazine founded by Arizmendiarrieta himself, Mondragon wants to add its small part in this celebration by contributing a series of biographical notes, various interviews and opinion pieces which we have selected for thisquasi-monographic issue. Thus, throughout the year, both in paper format and on the www.tulankide.com website, they will be publishing news articles related to the centenary anniversary.

Read the full text:- TU-enero-febrero-2015-INGLÉS1

Can we do it ourselves?

Interesting new film from Sweden about how worker co-operatives can change the entire capitalist economy to economic democracy.

Why do we put up with authoritarianism at work on a scale that in the rest of society would be regarded as an advanced dictatorship?

Commemorating the ’84 Miners’ Strike

Two groups whose activities during the ’84 miners’ strike inspired the hit film Pride were reunited for the first time in three decades.

Lesbian and Gays Support the Miners’ Group (LGSM) members and the Neath, Dulais and Swansea Valley Miners’ Support Group held a 30th anniversary reunion on Sat 14th March 2015 at the Onllwyn Miners Welfare Hall in the Dulais Valley. The Hall is also known unofficially as the Palace of Culture, a sign of the strong communist influences here over time.

Onllwyn Hall

My partner Lynne and I were lucky enough to get tickets, and thanks to the kind assistance of Dai Donovan, were sat right at the front in the VIP seats with our friend Alison, and introduced to our neighbours. Still not sure why Dai took such good care of us, but thanks anyway. Continue reading

Time to update the Co-op Principles?

This article has now been published by Co-op News. Read the article on Co-operative News Website:-


or read on……

The Seven Co-operative Principles were last updated and formally adopted by the International Co‑operative Alliance at Congress in Manchester in 1995 http://www.ica.coop/coop/principles.html

They are based on the eight original Rochdale Principles, and have been updated and amended periodically.

Why change is needed

Unfortunately, whether we like it or not, the world doesn’t stand still. Over the last few decades we have seen enormous changes in the world in which we, the co-operative movement, have to survive.

In the past in the UK, and still today in some parts of the world, the co-operative movement is a powerful, and sometimes dominant player in the economy. Where they are, they bring a long-term approach to economic development and stability in the marketplace. However, most of the movement exists as an island of sanity in a sea of rampant capitalism. We may not like it, but that’s how it is, and we need to both live with that and at the same time grow ourselves out of it. Continue reading

Remembering Terry Pratchett

In 1986 I was editor of a Cardiff based trades union newspaper, Union Eyes. I put together a piece about events at Hinkley Point A Power Station two years earlier, which although over the water in Somerset, has Cardiff in its direct line of fire if anything goes badly wrong.
This was a story that started with a leaked document, some pages from the Turbine Hall Basement logbook, which was sent anonymously to Paddy Ashdown’s office. I spoke to his researcher to find out more, but they had sent a copy to an engineering academic to look at and advise them of its significance, and were unwilling to send me one as well. As an ex Power Station Manager who had spent a short time at Hinkley I was confident that if I saw it, I could work out what had actually happened. Without a copy I was stymied, so I rang the CEGB Press Office in Bristol, where I spoke to an exceptionally helpful man.
“Did I have a copy of the leaked document?” “Well, no actually, I don’t.” “Would you like a copy….would a photo be helpful well?” He couldn’t have been more helpful, and bear in mind not only was this effectively stolen goods, but CEGB policy was not to release any more information than was in the public domain already. I thanked him and as an ex-employee myself, promised “not to be too unfair to the CEGB”.

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