Thursday, 1 April 2010

Community of Interest or The Common Bond

Labout arguing for citizen control and Tories for employee ownership in the 'new mutuals'.

As Carole leslie from Baxi says "The debate shouldn’t be about theory, it should be about practice. What works for one organisation might have to be adapted, developed or completely reinvented for another."

And the best way to determine what will work is Stakeholder Analysis. Which group has the strongest Community of Interest ( or Common Bond to use a credit union term). That group has the strongest drive to make the organisation work. If more than one, a multistakeholder model might be best, like GLL, but weighted as in GLL to the stronger interest group, in their case the workers.

On Radio 4 yesterday Will Davies from Demos confirmed that Labour do not support employee ownership and cited the Foundation hospital trusts as an example of Labour's preferred model of citizen control.

The rushed introduction of the foundation trust model is a classic case of not identifying the communities of interest before imposing a model. Hospital trusts are stuffed with special interest activists banging their specific drums. Democracy is a sideshow to central government control via the executive managers.

This is precisely NOT what we want in New Mutualism. It seems Labour is still prejudiced against employee control even where it might be more effective.

This prejudice runs deep and long since the 1919 Fabian takeover and banishment of syndicalism and guild socialism from the Labour Party.

But the Tories can only see share based employee ownership. A 21st century version of Thatchers popular capitalism but using Employee Shareownership schemes. This is not cooperation as we worker coop enthusiasts see it. We want to break free from the corrupting influence of individual share ownership for the benefits of collective ownership of capital. We see ourselves as the stewards of capital created in the past, which we can use to generate a present income, but must hand on to the cooperators of tomorrow, hopefully enhanced.

There is a danger that worker cooperatives will fall between these two theoretical shibboleths, executive driven neo-consumer cooperatives a la Labour and the joint stock holding 'little masters' of Tory dreams.

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