In Stop Funding Hate’s view, the Co-op Board’s response does not respect the instruction given to them by Co-op members at the 2018 AGM.
The statement contains no update on the company’s policy to “challenge those views expressed in print which we and many of our members believe are incompatible with our values” and “use our contacts with publishers at every level to make the case for change”. It also does not contain any mention of challenging the Daily Mail, Sun or Express in relation to racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, or anti-LGBT sentiment – issues that are incompatible with Co-op values.
What the statement does mention is the impact of their engagement on the company itself, as it states: “increased coverage, reach and positive sentiment towards the Co-op in the Daily Mail, the Daily Express and the Sun during 2018”, and says “Three of top five messages in terms of reach and volume were about our social purpose – the Co-op as an ethical retailer, as a leading exponent of responsible business and as championing a better way of doing business”.
The only reference to hate in the Co-op’s response, other than a reiteration of the text of the Responsible Advertising motion, is a statement taken from our update last autumn: “over the past year we’ve started to see some big changes… there has been a noticeable drop in the number of anti-migrant and anti-Muslim front pages”.
Had the Co-op agreed to meet with Stop Funding Hate or the motion proposer, we would have reiterated that despite this progress, groups representing affected communities still have many concerns.