Once it was usual to refer to decisions made or key discussions taking place on the quiet as being by men in smoke filled rooms. Tobacco is now out but it could be said that coke filled rooms have replaced it; I do not mean a smokeless fuel form of heating.
What is amazing about the Co-Operative Group/Bank business is the sight of leading members of The Labour Party standing there waving their arms about crying, "Nuffin to do wiv me guv!" "I wus in the seminar wiv me mates!" "Honest to Marx, swear on Das Kapital, I knew nuffin, heard nuffin, saw nuffin."
For my entire life and that of my parents, now only a couple of years short of a century, the Co-op was Labour and Labour was the Co-op. My father had good cause to dislike it. By then it had already come a long way since it's origin.
The rapid expansion of the Co-op in many urban areas between the wars opening big shops with several counters, along with other chains, wiped out a lot of small traders, including the one that employed my father. He lost his trade. Also he did not like the system. It was his view that a lot of cheap low quality stuff was being peddled with the dividend being a fiddle.
During the war years and after when rationing and supply were problematical it was believed that to be a customer with preferential treatment you needed to be a paid up and active member of the Labour Party and in Labour controlled areas pressure was put on suppliers to favour the Co-op.
Certainly during my key time during the 60's and later where I was the Labour Party and the Co-op's were not just connected they were the same people with different hats. This was literally true when one lady was both a leader of her local Labour Party and Chairman of the local Co-op using the millinery department in their department store as her personal hat stand.
It went beyond that because there were many senior Labour party figures at national level who maintained their local Co-op connections as part of their personal base and a key network within the Labour Party's political system at the time. It has not changed much in recent times.
Consequently, the denial that the Co-op Group/Bank issues at present have little or nothing to do with the Labour Party strains credulity a long way past breaking point. What is even more ridiculous are the claims that much of this is "private".
If someone is in charge of a major outfit responsible for very important matters then absolute privacy is not an option should it in any way bear on answerability. If top jobs are being given out and by who neither is that; nor is the matter of where their money is coming from a private matter if it is accountable.
"Crony capitalism" is not capitalism as it should be, it is a debased and destructive form of corporatism. Socialism is not as it should be if it amounts to a small and introvert elite number both engaged in cronyism and control.
What has happened is that government's have bet the house on finance and a range of agencies and controlling bodies. But in charge have been very many persons while claiming to be "management" in fact know little about their fief and more important do not recognise key elements.
In banking this means financial risk and the relevant complexities. In Health it means medicine, demographics and other elements of risk. In the defence of the realm it is something else and again other forms of risk.
At the political level there are ministers etc. who are not expert and also involved others not necessarily expert. What has been happening is that increasingly, almost it seems across the board, the people appointed to actually run the organisations are not expert or informed and all too often are sub-politicians with all the short termism and narrowness of vision entailed.
Never mind that so many seem to be more concerned with getting out of their skulls and the sometimes squalid details of their non-working activities rather than the jobs in hand.