Senscot Bulletin: 01.04.16

Dear members and friends,

I first encountered the world of John Le Carre in the 1965 film, the Spy Who Came in From the Cold and since then I’ve read all his books; his greatest creation, spymaster George Smiley, gave me my understanding of the Cold War period. Then, when communism died, Le Carre turned his guns on to the other major threat to world freedom – capitalism; his political anger just kept building. The Night Manager (1993) was his first completely post-Cold War novel – and when it came on TV recently, I stupidly re-read it – getting tangled up in plot variations. But film is a whole different art-form – when I relaxed and let it do its own job, I enjoyed it: great casting and acting – sumptuous locations; the series finished on Sunday.

            The skeleton plot of the Night Manager has the hero, Jonathan Pine, with a good angel (Angela Burr) and a bad angel (Richard Roper) whispering in each ear – uncertain which he finds more attractive. Once again it is the tension of this primal human dilemma which carries the story – the familiar Le Carre landscape of moral complexity. In a godless world, he invokes deep, almost religious ideas of betrayal, trust, faith; we get the craft and cunning of a tense spy story – but it’s also something spiritual and emotional. I am reminded of another (also godless) favourite, Raymond Carver, who wrote this mysterious line, “All of us, all of us, all of us – trying to save our immortal souls, some ways seemingly more round-about than others”.


I watched the second Scottish Leaders’ debate, hosted by STV on Tuesday evening, and found the format more helpful that the first BBC event; but I still have reservations about the usefulness of these staged, presentational gigs: politics as ‘showbiz’. It’s my belief that as voters we make our choices at a level removed from policy arguments; more an intuitive decision about people – whether they have an honest desire to serve, or it’s all for themselves? One thing in favour of the live debates is that they allow a glimpse of candidates being contradicted and angry; maybe sense how genuine they are – or ‘there’s something about that guy I don’t trust’. Impressions of Commonspace journalist, Michael Gray.


Our Govt’s new £10m Scottish Land Fund opens today for applications from not only rural – but now also urban communities; delivered by the Lottery and HIE, the fund is to enable communities to buy land and other assets. When I read through the brief bios of the seven newly appointed committee members – I felt a lift of encouragement that these are people who understand the actual reality of developing and sustaining fragile communities. Particularly the chair, John Watt – who for thirty years worked in community-led rural regeneration with HIE, latterly as Director of Strengthening Communities at HIE where he oversaw the Community Land Unit.


One of the core principles of the Scottish Green Party is a revitalised local democracy – and the recruitment of Andy Wightman to their ranks of aspiring MSPs makes them the leading political party on this issue. Along with Land Reform, Andy has campaigned for many years about Scotland’s missing tier of local democracy; this piece in the Daily Record demonstrates how well briefed he always is.


The Night Manager is a story about the immorality of the military industrial complex – and the complicity of Western States with rogue traffickers. Good piece in – a US online mag – in which a retired US Colonel spills the beans. He says that we’ve privatised the ultimate public function: war (an estimated 30,000 private military contractors work in Afghanistan alone). “We dwarf the Russians and any other country which sells arms – we are the death merchants of the world”. (see end piece)


When I read this piece in The National last week, about Police Scotland – my reaction was that Kevin McKenna had lost his sense of balance – a rant; but I suspect I have a typically middle class deference to the forces of law and order. Uncomfortable as it can be – a free democracy needs to keep a tight grip on its Police Force – particularly a national one. McKenna’s journalistic style ‘gets it said’ – unusual candour and confidence.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:

JOBS: Senscot, Dundee SEN, Indigo Childcare Group, The Coalfields Regeneration Trust, Laggan Forest Trust, Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust

EVENTS: Glasgow Women’s Library: The Glasgow Girls of Garnethill Women’s Heritage Walk, 2 Apr; Creative Carbon Scotland: Green Tease: Music Festivals & Climate Change, 6 Apr; Assist Social Capital, Social Capital World Forum, 9 Apr

TENDERS: Review, Business Planning & Sustainability Support – Community Led Action and Support Project, Community Connecting for people over 50 – The City of Edinburgh Council, Dundee Joint Social Work Sensory Service – Dundee City Council and more. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.


The SENs Weekly Update: Kim writes: Senscot is now seeking to recruit a new Social Enterprise and Sport Co-ordinator to facilitate and support the growing volume of activity of the Sport SEN and Roundtable. The Sport SEN and Roundtable have been active since 2010 and the Sport SEN now is now made up of around 120 community-based sports organisations. The role of the new Co-ordinator will be to continue to link up and support SEN members across the country as they seek to be both financially sustainable as well as continuing to use sport as the tool to make significant social impact within their local respective communities.  The post is supported by sportscotland and Scottish Govt’s Third Sector Division and is currently funded until March 2017. Closing date for applications is Monday 18th April – with interviews scheduled for week beginning 25th April. See application pack. For further queries, email


From different sources, two pieces emerge of interesting developments from Finland – so I’ve linked them. Firstly, it seems that every major Finnish political party has signed up to introduce this year a universal basic income (UBI) of 800 euros for every citizen in the country. This development will be closely watched around the world. The other piece, which I loved, is about ‘Why Finland has the best schools’: no formal academic training until the age of seven – until then they learn through play, songs, games, conversation. ‘The work of a child is to play!’ In Finland, teachers are the most admired and trusted professional after doctors.


The Scottish Govt is actively encouraging the greater participation of locally-based third sector organisations in the delivery of public services – and championing ‘co-production’ – particularly when it comes to health and social care services. It appears that this approach is not being reflected in Edinburgh where the Council recently elected to hand contracts for its 4 Adult Community Treatment Services to two national providers – Turning Point and the Manchester-based charity Lifeline (700 staff and £40m turnover). The existing providers – who had been delivering the service successfully for decades – had been working to ‘co-produce’ a refined service model in the hope of avoiding a tendering scenario. This has unfortunately failed – with two of the providers having to close their doors. As one observer noted: “20 years of local knowledge and experience thrown out with the procurement bath water”. See Procurement 1 – Co-Production 0.


SCRT’s 12th monthly Bulletin is now available. Since the first one went out this time last year to 55 subscribers, it is now reaching over 250 organisations – 150 of whom have signed up as members. This month’s edition carries stories, amongst others, on a blog from on their Scottish campaigns; UK Govt’s social investment strategy; and new OSCR guidance on ‘Banking for Charities’.


This week’s bulletin profiles a GSEN member that has the ambition of making its support available to every older person in Scotland by 2020. The Good Morning Service(GMS) is a dynamic, innovative charity that has set the standard for telephone befriending and alert services. Set up in 2000, GMS provides telephone befriending and alert calls to older people – every morning; 365 days a year. Telephone Befrienders call out to members at a pre-arranged time to check that all is well and for a chat. The Service is available free of charge for those aged 60+ years, living in Glasgow City and South Ayrshire Council areas. By connecting directly to older people every day the service seeks to directly reduce isolation and exclusion – and, in turn, contribute to improving mental health – which can help slow the decline of physical health.


In his 1961 farewell address, US President Eisenhower warned that military and corporate interests were increasingly working together – creating a powerful new threat to democracy; he called this the military industrial complex.

"This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military–industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes.”

That’s all for this week.

Best wishes,


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