New Website Host

This site has just changed host, to Northway Communications Services.  It was originally hosted by the Phone Co-op but recently that co-op merged with Mid-Counties Co-op and it appears that some original services provided by the Phone Co-op were contracted out following the merger.  Anyway I was notified of the transfer in April and it has now been completed.


I was disappointed that the Phone Co-op never built itself up into a major cloud hosting business.  The fact that networking is a co-operative activity made it appear to me a good match.  However given the extensive difficulties now emerging in the social networking sites and in the cloud project, it is perhaps not surprising they chose not to go that way.  Myself I have long been overwhelmed by the intricacies of digital development, more particularly on the networking side, and you can find in this the reason my computer-related pages remain silent.

Co-op Ideals still supported

I remain a co-op member but back with the Co-operative Group which runs shops in the London area rather than Mid-Counties which operates in the Midlands.  In these days of crisis in capitalism, I believe it is important to keep co-operative ideals to the fore.  The ‘free market’ is illusory science, a construct of ideology.  Capitalism in the USA has been propped up by Quantitative Easing and the mortgage markets in that country are largely controlled and subsidised by the Government.  Slogans such as ‘Greed is good’ we have heard a lot of in recent decades; and the primacy of shareholder profit is unceasingly dinned into our ears; but neither notion is a sound basis for running a large company or ordering society. 


Proposals for the recognition of stakeholders other than shareholders, and for the recognition of ecological, social and governance responsibilities in corporate boardrooms, are pointers to a better social order.  But we need to keep the pressure up on these broad social ideals lest the catch-phrases just degenerate into tick boxes.


The Co-op Group itself went through a crisis a few years ago and is now owned and managed under a very different structure from that which I knew in the 1990s.  But there has been plenty of growth in the co-operative area and private sector businesses could do some useful learning by study of co-operative principles.  

Social Responsibility only gets lip-service

One naturally thinks of social responsibility in relation to government: provision of education, of health services, of pensions.  But verbal fogs from governments disguise the degradation of these services on the one hand and on the other social responsibility is also a corporate matter.  I have listed in a previous note the many short cuts firms take in relation to wage payment.  Short term employment fixes do not build up a company with enduring capabilities.  Corporate management expects to be free to dismiss employees at will; expects to bully employees at work; to neglect the health and safety of employees; to neglect training and then blame schools and colleges for failing to develop the employees they want.  The Post Office’s treatment of its sub-postmasters is not exceptional.  In this day and age, employees are expected to cope with the obscurities and tricks of the digital world without adequate support, when the software itself may be too faulty to use effectively.  Private equity and indeed the financial system more broadly are outrageous in their lust to buy old companies, rip their heart out in a notional reconstruction process and then offload on to the unwary.  The pensions sector is no better.  To build up a truly capable organisation takes time, thought and humanity.  Many business schools talk about leadership – but this is what leadership is and it is seldom practiced.

Rebuild co-operative structure




The flaws in company law








The example of the NHS

The co-operative model however is not without problems.  The essential principle of ‘one member, one vote’ has a narrower field of application than is commonly recognised.  I do not say it should be the model for a private company, and it needs to be said that a one-pound-share does not create a serious stake in ownership, even though retail society membership brings you other benefits.  ‘One member one vote’ will only work if the membership share is priced to give a realistic stake in ownership.  Would £50 membership be better?

But I do mean to say that corporate organisation is in need of reconstruction more particularly in terms of the law underlying financial structure.  The modern American corporation by its use of non-voting shares shows little regard for the vote of a shareholder and concentrates power in a very limited class of voting shareholders   Yet this does not solve the problem of shareholder domination.  The Board is legally responsible for the conduct of a company and this fact needs to be clarified by changes in the law to give substance to its fiduciary duties.  Financial Times and other investigations into corporate failures too frequently conclude with a phrase such as ‘We could not trace the ownership further’.  Though good management is not blocked, modern company law is too flexible to allow effective audit or other scrutiny to be carried out.  In contrast co-ops have a very long and exemplary history of developing member loyalty.  Co-operative principles have been treated with contempt by the capitalist world; yet they show the way to implement ideals that are sorely needed in today’s back-biting capitalism.

The importance of social enterprise and the not-for-profit organisation has been recognised more widely in recent years.  To take an example, I would say as a matter of principle that there is no place for the private joint stock company in the provision of health care.  Care homes have failed under this model; GP surgeries though originally established as partnerships have deviated increasingly from the principle of primacy of care; sub-contracting of hospital services pulls out private profit from employee wages by the introduction of the additional corporate form.

Rebuild corporate structure on both legal and financial sides

One of the most important problems thrown up by capitalism as it has developed over centuries is the general contempt shown for contract.  Political philosophy after Rousseau has disregarded contract.  Today it is too often a trap for the unwary.  But society only works if contracts have substance and law is effective.  For you cannot build a society on the basis of law that does not protect promises, agreements and contracts.  And the law must be alert to manipulation of contracts and other social relations by one party to subvert the contract, or otherwise damage the weaker player.  In the post-war years of full employment, contracts of employment were worthwhile in terms of security of tenure and reliable pay.  But it was the broad social context of those years that secured these contractual rights.

Contracts disregarded

Today we have lost everything.  Neither contracts nor laws protect citizens.  They are subverted or disregarded or simply trap you in a snare.  Deals perhaps are everywhere – but what makes a deal trustworthy?  A contract of employment lacks necessary substance; it speaks for only one party; it merely states terms and conditions.  Court fees alone disable many good cases and the withdrawal of Legal Aid the same.  This is wrong and this must be changed.  We need to rebuild this foundation of society, as an integral part of the reconstruction of the whole. 

Undercover Policing Report demonstrates excesses of secret state

One can tolerate the secret state manipulating open society for the sake of security; but the recent ‘Undercover Policing Report’ makes only too clear the excesses of the secret state and the havoc that is caused thereby.  One certainly should not tolerate that tiny elite with massive financial interests doing the same to protect their interests regardless.  The association between high finance and fascism has long been recognised.




June 2023






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