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Paul T Horgan: Amateurish management of the Co-op is Labour’s template for Britain

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Last week I wrote about Labour’s plan to abolish the private sector, by making everyone and his brother have a say in the running of private companies, and not just the management, directors and shareholders.

The leaked text said the following: ‘At present directors owe a duty to promote the company for the benefit of the shareholders, and must only have regard to employees, suppliers, the environment etc. Labour proposes to amend the Companies Act 2006 so that directors owe a duty directly to these groups and will consult on who the · duty will be owed to.”

This has been cleaned up in the ‘proper’ version, removing the ‘etc’: ‘Labour will amend company law so that directors owe a duty directly not only shareholders, but to employees, customers, the environment and the wider public, and we will consult on bringing forward appropriate legislation within this Parliament.’

Unfortunately, our media are so preoccupied with tax and borrowing plans that they have let this one pass. And yet in this single sentence, Labour make the greatest assault on private property this country has experienced in peacetime. Greenpeace could invade every boardroom, and every other special interest organisation, community group, and advocate of identity politics could legally invent a spurious case to tie up the running of companies.

It is not as if this has not happened before. The board of the Co-op Group was run in the same way that Labour proposes to force every company to be run. It was stuffed with ‘right-on’ amateurs with no commercial or professional knowledge, including a nurse, a farmer, a computer technician, a university lecturer and a plasterer. They were there only because they had been elected through the membership on the basis of some personal manifesto, and not necessarily because they actually had any ability to maintain and grow a business. Board member and businessman Lord Myners spoke of his experience at meetings: ‘”I have myself witnessed repeated instances where there has been a denial of responsibility, corrosive suspicion, deliberate delay and a practice of hiding behind values in order to deflect or stifle criticism and protect self-interest. It was the combination of these factors, when discussing the approval of this year’s accounts, that obliged me to resign as a director of the group after only four months,”

It rather sounds like a meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party, or Corbyn’s front bench last year, doesn’t it? This is not a coincidence. The Co-op sponsors numerous Labour MPs. The political mindset seems to have infected the board.

Speaking at the Treasury Select Committee inquiry into the mess back in 2013, Myners said: “I became exasperated by their amateurish approach to their duties, particularly when it came to approving the annual report and accounts. In my judgement, a significant number of the directors had not carefully studied the accounts and did not understand the importance of some of the assumptions that lay behind the accounts. Indeed, I got a strong impression that some of them were waiting for me to sign the accounts in order that they could have the comfort of slipstreaming behind my signature and I felt I would have been wrong to have done that.”

It was also discovered that some board members regarded empty properties that were rented, rather than owned, by the Co-op, as a corporate asset.

Labour want the private sector to be run like the Co-op Group. It may come as no surprise to the reader to know that under its ‘democratic’ form of stewardship, that the Co-op Group managed to lose in about five years approximately 50 per cent of the value that had been created over the 150 years or so since the Rochdale pioneers started this commercial model. But that’s socialism for you. It’s all about the destruction.

Why would Labour want to do this? Well the cheapest way for the State to take over businesses as part of its socialist agenda is to have them crash first, and the best way to do that is to run them into the ground. Then the businesses may be bought on the cheap and handed over to workers’ co-operatives to be run with state subsidies or possibly under state ownership.

Under Labour, the UK will become like the Co-op. Losing money and business while being run by clueless amateurs. Broadcasters, please take note.

(Image: Garry Knight)

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Paul T Horgan
Paul T Horgan works in the IT Sector. He lives in Berkshire.

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