“the co-operative principle reflects an important part of the vision of social progress that we on the centre-right believe in: the role of strong independent institutions, run by and for local people. That’s why Conservatives have always argued that free enterprise and the co-operative principle are partners, not adversaries. And now I want the Conservative Party to take the lead in applying the co-operative ideal to the challenges of the 21st century. So I am delighted to announce today the establishment of the Conservative Co-operative Movement. “
Over at LabourHome they have gone all “how very dare they” about Cameron’s Conservative Co-operative Movement. Guido had lunch with LabourHome founder Alex Hilton sometime ago, when Guido paid using a Co-operative Bank debit card he positively spluttered with indignation. “What is a capitalist like you doing banking with the Co-op?” The truth is co-ops are compatible with free enterprise, they can compete with profit-driven businesses and are a very welcome component of an enterprise culture. Guido tried to explain that for years he had worked in what was effectively a co-op. Hedge fund partnerships often work on the same principles as farmer’s co-ops, a few traders get together, share a pool of capital, share risks and share profits, just like members of an agricultural co-op do. Some of the swankiest property in New York is owned by billionaire members of co-ops. They do this because they are smart and don’t want a third party to profit at their expense. Co-ops have nothing to do with top-down state socialism.The chair of the Conservative Co-operative Movement will be Jesse Norman, the author of Compassionate Conservativism. In Latin-American countries political parties from across the spectrum often have a social-action wing that does good works. The thinking here is that state-controlled public services are too bureaucratic, too big and public service reform would be better served by harnessing the flexibility and dynamism of co-ops. Co-op schools would be a great start, with like-mind communities getting together to run schools responsive to the wishes of parents and pupils rather than Ed Balls’ diktats.