Myners: Co-op insiders must accept change

 
Tim Wallace
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THE CO-OP Group’s directors need to be swept out and replaced with experienced business people if the group is to begin to turn itself around, Lord Myners said in a strongly worded report published yesterday.

But the peer fears that only Co-op insiders will get a vote on shaking up governance at this month’s annual general meeting – people he believes have long resisted vital reforms.

“Not a single person inside the Co-op has come forward with anything other than whinges and complaints about my proposals,” he said.

“My worst fear is that nothing will be done,” he added, warning this will result in banks becoming tougher on the Co-op, forcing it to sell even more assets such as its funerals business.

Myners yesterday appealed to those voters to “set aside self-interest in the interests of the greater good.”

He also clashed with Labour and Cooperative MP George Mudie in parliament yesterday.

Mudie attacked Myners for undermining the Co-op’s distinctive democratic structures, risking turning it into a Plc with no defining characteristics.

Myners rejected the claims, arguing he wants a “one member one vote system, which is superior to the model that previously stood in place, which gave large donations to the Co-operative party”.

SIX CHANGES LORD MYNERS WANTS AT THE CO-OP

1 Lord Myners wants the Co-op Group’s board to be made of mainly non-executive directors, with more business skills and experience. He believes this would help avoid the value-destroying disasters of recent years.

2 But he also wants to make the group more democratic, giving more power to members and less to the layers of elected officials.

3 Step one would be to replace the 21-strong board with six or seven new, external non-execs, plus two executive directors.

4 Next, Myners wants a National Membership Council established of 50 members including 10 employees. It would be elected and its job would be to make sure the board keeps the group operating in line with ethical, co-operative values.

5 A new nominations committee would screen candidates who wish to join the board, giving approval to those with the relevant skills, helping members choose who to elect.

6 However, before this can happen the reforms must be approved at this month’s AGM of about 100 elected officials. These – and the current board – are the individuals who lose out most from the plan, and so Myners fears they will vote against him.