"“We have lent a huge amount of money to the U.S. Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I am definitely a little worried.” "

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao 12th March 2009

""We have a financial system that is run by private shareholders, managed by private institutions, and we'd like to do our best to preserve that system."

Timothy Geithner US Secretary of the Treasury, previously President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.1/3/2009

Sunday, October 07, 2007

This is the gravestone in Rochdale Cemetery of John Thomas Whitehead Mitchell J.P. who was born in Rochdale on October 18th 1826. His mother was a domestic servant and he started work in a cotton mill aged 10.

A lifelong devout Christian and believer in the Bible he became a member of Rochdale Pioneers in 1853, nine years after it was formed. he served on the Library committee and promoted the Rochdale Co-operative Manufacturing Society . He was elected to the Board of the Co-operative Wholesale Society in 1869, he became its chairman in 1874, an office he held until his death in 1895.

His ideas of consumers' Co-operation preceded the early Labour movement and his ideas commanded great respect and largely shaped the policy and course of the Co-operative Wholesale Society.

He attended the Co-operative Congress of 1869 and all succeeding ones to 1894. He was a protagonist of the great debates on the control of co-operative production and profit-sharing during the 1870s and 1880s, opposing such redoubtable debaters as Hughes and Neale, and standing up to a keen examination of his consumer theory by Professor Alfred Marshall when giving evidence before the Royal Commission on Labour (1892).

He presided at the Rochdale Co-operative Congress, 1892, and his presidential address expressed his ideals and outlined his ideas of a consumer theory - his gravestone bears the quotation from a speech he made on that occasion and much repeated.

"The three great forces for the improvement of mankind are religion, temperance, and Co-operation, and as a commercial force, supported and sustained by the other two, Co-operation is the grandest, noblest, and most likely to be successful in the redemption of the industrial classes."

He was active in temperance worker and a Sunday School superintendant until his death. Traits that did not endear him to the swelling ranks of the industrial parvenus of Rochdale. He was a member of the Radical Reform Association and stood as a Liberal candidate in the Rochdale municipal elections in 1893 and 1894. His defeat on both occasions was largely due to the opposition of private traders who were opposed to his views on educating the working ("industrial") classes. His programme would have been agreeable to the future Labour Party, advocating direct employment by the corporation on work for the corporation, a living wage for all, and the abolition of the aldermanic bench.

Mitchell was a co-operator and he could not accommodate himself to either of the big parties of the day. In 1891 he had declared to Congress that it was absolutely necessary for co-operators as such to be represented in Parliament, the representatives to be sent, regardless of politics or religion.

His die hard opponents were happy to name him "Baron Wholesale", and widely claimed he had feathered his own nest during his 21 years as chairman of the Co-operative Wholesale Society. A sort of eraly george Lansbury he lived simply in a Rochdale terraced house at 12 JohnStreet - not to far from that in which Gracie Fiedls was born - in his will he left £350 17s 8d.

His grave which lies in the shade of the largest Wych Elm left in Rochdale, is of solid granite , simple, and bears a curious pediment in a late Victorian ersatz Egyptian relief popular at the time of his death.

The distinctive gritstone carving of a wheatsheaf is an early icon of the CWS and the name persists in the new and hideous shopping centre.

The gravestone was installed by his colleagues and the Directors of the CWS.


paul said...

Brings to mind this fascinating cri de couer and the straight out out of the blocks, slavish complicity of our middle east envoy with people both better and richer (the latter defined the former) than he.

Shutter said...

Mr Regan - forgotten all about him. Odd organisation whose socialist principles were lost more in incompetence than greed.

Only a fool or an OAP would shop at the co-op here. Well known locally as the source of brain damaging juice for the underprivileged and under age.

The CIS building (Co-op Insurance Society) in M/cr is being clad in solar cells - funded by taxpayers of Europe and at low cost by Sharp - it will prdice electricity at a rate such that it would require £66,000 of capital expenditure to provide electrical energy for a standard family house (2 adults , 2 children,3 bed).

(C) Very Seriously Disorganised Criminals 2002/3/4/5/6/7/8/9 - copy anything you wish