Co-oP bank no longer a Cooperative

I have banked with the Coop for as long as I can remember for reasons of their having a good ethical track record. Recently they have closed many bank accounts of various charitable support groups - the latest being the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. I have written to the bank to complain and their reply basically states that they are merely bringing thir policies in line with the rest of the industry. I also just found (on the PSC website) the statement that the Coop bank is not in fact a cooperative, nor is it in any way associated with the other COop brands like the shops. In fact it is run by private investors - 80% being a US based hedge fund. This would seem to back up the statement they issued to me that they are merely another bank falling into line with the other banksters.

It would seem that there is no longer any incentive to bank with the Co-op on ethical grounds.

The link below is for anyone who would like to sign a petition regarding the bank closures.



Most of the English banks were founded by Quakers. Barclays was founded by Quakers who set themselves up as goldsmith bankers in Lombard Street in 1690. One of the original founder's daughter married a Barclay whose name the bank later assumed. In 1896 20 Quaker owned banks amalgamated to form what became an international banking giant. The original money most of these banks made was funding the settlement of the north American colonies, but most of the banks at that time had had enough profitable income not to go broke. Becoming rich is at odds with the Quaker principles of simple and plain living. However part of that same ethic was that going bankrupt meant Quakers could be expelled from their church. They both despised and created modern corporate capitalism.

Originally, I believe, Quaker banks who mainly employed Quakers provided pensions when people eventually had to retire, usually very close to the end of their days though, which was well before other employers offered anything. The cooperative movement was set up using mutual society principles learned from the Quaker way of doing business in banking and other enterprises. Anyway, the 1896 merger to form the modern Barclays was and inspiration for the amalgamation that gave rise to the Cooperative as was until at least the mid-1950s. It was a kind of soft socialism that most of the concerns that amalgamated into the Co-op already practised to some degree. During WW1 they even formed a Cooperative Party at their congress in Swansea as the plaque where that happened says. In 1927 they formed a pact with Labour and formally became part of the Labour movement just before WW2.

Ironically the Cooperative Party still exists within Labour; its members standing for a sustainable economy and society, a political culture that puts citizenship at the top of its agenda, with equality of opportunity and human rights high up and socially responsible business represented by the practice of retail and industrial cooperatives despite the Co-op itself having left that path long ago. Many of Labour's 'greens' and socially engaged (sic) MPs like Hazel Blears actually belong to that part of the Labour movement.

So, the Co-op lost its principles just like the party bearing its name that is part of a party that also disowned its principles of mutuality. Does one wonder that things are as they are? Ironically, what still happens is that a large chunk of money still goes toward the Cooperative Party, in other words the Labour Party, in order to support the base principle of mutuality that is long lost in the mists of time.

I'm disappointed too Geoff but don't you remember the old Trustees Savings Bank swallowed long ago by Lloyds PLC. More sad for me because I bank with Lloyds . Formed in Birmingham along Quaker lines nothing could be more shaming for its founders than the rapacious capitalism it fell prey to in the late Twentieth century. And who remembers the Yorkshire Penny Bank long absorbed into some gaping maw of casino banking but still remembered in some redesigned Witherspoon's vertical drinking establishment called perhaps "Old Bank Chambers". I cannot understand why the ordinary workers of today, when confronted with the same rampant capitalism that they "enjoyed" in the 19th century cannot learn and form mutual capital societies to protect the savings of the ordinary folk.I come from a generation where many enterprise provided good pensions both in the public and state enterprises. Thatcher and her followers were intent on destroying this in the interest of the market whatever that might be. I regret that the Trades Unions didn't offer more by way of a mutual pension scheme whereby members could contribute to their future works pension without having to be subject to the vagaries of the employers and the Treasury. Interesting to note that in all final salary pension schemes it was only the employers who had the benefit of a pension "holiday" ie. the employee continued to contribute whereas the employers didn't. This seems to arrive by way of some High Court decision that the pension fund remains the property of the company and according to the Treasury too many companies were writing off their Corporation tax by making excess contributions to the company pension fund. Didn't stop the liquidators robbing the pension fund for their own agrandisement see the liquidation of MG Rover.

yes, I am sadenned & dissapointed and almost don't want to believe it.

There are I now learn, alternatives out there in Uk - but alas - the usual problem - it is not possible to open UK accounts if you are not a resident. (please don't tell me it IS possible - we have had that thread many times before). So I guess I will stay with the Coop - even it it is just because they do have UK based call centres!

I bank with Credit Cooperatif here in France and I believe they are a cooperative - for the time being at least - until they get bigger and are hauled into line.

thanks for your responses.


Take a look at the executive structure of The Co-operative Group and you will see it is just another business, in fact a vast but to some extent failing business with umpteen branches, some of them not even acknowledging the 'Co-op', that has zero to do with its origins as a merger of co-operative wholesale societies and it Rochdale Principles. It simply seems they forget to tell their vast range of customers that.

I've been going around this loop of finding quality banking with quality staff at sensible prices for an age (UK and France now) and while I have no inclination towards ethical I do see this category at one of the sites I check for this stuff:

Sadly thanks to the crystal methodist chairman who it would appear couldn't read a balance sheet the Co-Op was obliged to relinquish 80 per cent of its holding to private equity. Unlike the big players the government had little interest in saving Co-Op.