Co-op Capitalism

Some years back Guido had lunch with Alex Hilton of Recess Monkey (R.I.P.) fame. Paying for lunch Guido brandished a card issued by the Co-operative bank. The monkey spluttered in indignation “what are you doing banking with the co-op?” as if it was an unlibertarian thing to do.

Co-op’s are neither socialist or capitalist necessarily. Most hedge funds are co-ops, owned by the partners with the profits shared by the workers. Many law firms are co-ops, luxury apartment blocks are run by self-selecting co-ops, huge agri-businesses are run by co-ops of rich farmers, mutual funds are a form of co-op, the list is endless. Lefties might want co-operatives to be non-profit, organic wool knitters but the most successful ones are not. 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 as designed by Fabians.  Guido imagines that a lot of middle-class parents will set-up cooperatively run “free schools” under the Tories education reform plans.

Jesse Norman, the ex-investment banker turned Tory candidate in Hereford, has been banging on about co-ops for years and he even set up the Conservative Co-operative Movement and wrote a book Compassionate Economics.    As far as Guido can tell in 2 years it hasn’t actually done anything but proselytise yet…


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