Conservative Co-operatives - A contradiction in terms surely ?

David Cameron's announcement that the Conservatives are to set up their own co-operatives seems to me to be a complete contradiction in terms.

The Co-operative movement was set up with the intention of people working together in a pre-cursor in many ways to the socialist ideals of communities working and groups working together for the common good. Co-operative movements worked sometimes against the prevailing economic mood, supporting ans sustaining people in times of need and recession whilst setting up further co-operative groups in areas where the economics suggested that it was not a good place to do business.

This is the complete opposite of the Conservative Party's views on almost everything.

For Conservatives, the market is king, There is no need to fight the prevailing markets. The common good is not served by subsidising and helping people out who are suffering from financial problems. I know she was misquoted, but Thatcherism was about the very idea that "there is no such thing as society". This view prevails today in the Tory Party. A party where your progress is dictated by the wealth of your parents and the school you went to. A front bench where being privately educated counts for more than anything else. The idea that this is in any way linked to the ideals of co-operation and benevolence is a joke.

So why do the Tories want to start a Conservative Co-operative movement ? Perhaps the clue was when David Cameron said

" it will be a resource for Conservative activists and local community groups of all kinds, wanting to set up their own co-ops to take over the management of local public services. "

So in effect it will become a Tory front organisation, a group full of Tory activists, supporters and members who will claim that it is independent but will offer support for Tory schemes but will campaign against actions by other political parties, councils, etc, that are not Conservative. And in situations like this it will claim to be an independent group. No doubt these co-operatives will also start making donations to the Tory party as well.

So yet again, its a muddying of the political waters. In order to raise the standing of politics in this country the last thing we need is a political party setting up a front organisation to do their dirty work.


Sir James Badger said...

Surely co-operatives are just that - associations of like minded people. What's wrong with that, Nich?

Andrew Milton said...

As Adam Smith almost wrote "People of the same mind seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public" OTOH he went on to say "It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty and justice."

But perhaps the Government will find a way :-)

Charlie Marks said...

I don't think Nich's arguing against co-ops, he's arguing against cynical political cross-dressing.

I posted on this a few days ago, btw. http://charliemarks.wordpress.com/2007/11/09/camerons-co-op-movement-conceals-privatisation-agenda/

I wrote: "Perhaps this is Cameron’s “heir to Blair” idea for public sector “reform” (ie: privatisation). The Tories are pitching themselves to the ruling class as a better option for flogging off schools and hospitals to big business by using some nice-sounding concepts.

"What’s needed is democratic control within the framework of public provision, of course. Cameron’s scheme will not deliver local control, but corporate control."