Senscot Bulletin 11-04-2003




Dear Members and friends


On way to golf last Saturday I thought I was a goner.  Country road – pull out to overtake horsebox
– blindly into path of oncoming lorry. 
Terror!  Swerve right – demolish
hedge – but somehow come to rest unhurt in field.  No one stops.  Sit for 10
minutes on tree stump – shivering – thinking strange thoughts.  Acute gratitude for life.  After golf recount my drama, my
reactions.  We exchange memories of
close escapes.  Alec tells a good
one.  He’s a retired solicitor, sound
and measured in all matters (except Heart of Midlothian FC).  He recalls how in 1986 he and his wife
Connie were on a flight when one of the two engines blew up, “Terrific bang –
full Mayday – we thought we were dead. 
Landing was hairy – ‘brace, brace’, the full bit.  Later in the bar – with strong drink, Connie
asked what my thoughts were, when it seemed we might die. Naturally I said they
were of her and the kids.  But I
remember the truth vividly.  In the face
of death my main concern was that for the first time in almost 30 years, Hearts
could win the Scottish League.  What if
they won and I missed it!”



In Sunday’s Herald Ian McWhirter wrote, “Is there something
rotten at the heart of Scottish public life which needs to be addressed?  Many have concluded from the last four years
that the culture of Scottish politics – cronyism, complacency, petty corruption
– needs to be renewed whoever is in charge of the Scottish parliament. In
Wishaw we saw the extraordinary situation of the First Minister being
systematically undermined by his own local party. This only highlighted the
dire state of Scottish local politics, where factionalism has replaced real
political debate and personal rivalries consume the energies of activists.”

McConnell has shown he’s tough,
shrewd and able to survive in this degenerate political culture. But if he’s to
be remembered as anything more than a ‘ruthless street fighter’ he’ll need to
reconcile the warring factions. Impossible, perhaps, with the current Scottish
Labour Party – in which case it’ll die by its own hand.



A few leaders from England’s social enterprise sector were
up in Scotland last week at an event and I heard them remarking that in
Scotland our sector is overly ‘statutory led.’ Their ‘wise nodding’ angered me
and I probably over reacted, too defensive, but I’ve been thinking about it
since. It’s true there’s a handful of organisations in Scotland who seem to
scoop up a disproportionate amount of resources and who, as a result, have
perhaps allowed themselves to drift too close to the statutory agencies and the
Executive. If ‘outsiders’ perceive our key organisations as agents of
government policy, there’s a lesson to be learnt. Perhaps it’s all got a bit
too cosy. If our sector is co-opted by the statutory sector – no one gains.



As well as our electronic network, Senscot encourages and
supports face-to-face meetings of social entrepreneurs around Scotland and we
are continuously developing relationships with what we call ‘Link
Organisations’.  This work has expanded
until now we need to recruit someone to help Aidan cover the ground.  The new worker will have a particular focus
on the four Scottish Coalfield areas and must be a car owner happy with lots of
travel.  We can pay between 18K and 23K
depending on how experienced the successful candidate is. For application pack
e-mail, tel. 0131 220
4104; details & job description on website



If Communities Scotland had been launched in November 2002
the rate of progress of its regeneration arm could be considered impressive,
with overall policy and senior management now in place.  But it was launched in 2001! And we have to
ask how a year has been lost.  90% of
the reason was a protracted and ‘horns locked’ dispute about pay levels as the
new agency became integrated into the mainstream civil service. It seems the
traditional Scottish Office policy mandarins considered that ‘delivery’ of
policy is a lesser role than theirs – should be paid less. Anyway, our
information is it’s sorted and posts of the ‘other ranks’ can now be filled.
For the record, the Regeneration senior management team is, Heather Koronka,
Sue Warner, Lillias Noble, Craig McLaren and Ian Mitchell. More about their
roles later. Let’s hope that things will soon start motoring. The pity of the
‘lost year’ is that opportunities have been missed, and we are left wondering
just how much priority regeneration carries within the Scottish Executive.



NOTICES: See ‘Listings’ at for more on these
and other items and job vacancies. If you have a relevant notice you’d like
posted, send it to


Friends of the Earth Scotland Conference, ‘Principles and
Profit: a conference on corporate accountability’. Scottish and international
perspectives, speakers and discussions. Fri 16 May 2003, Glasgow Royal Concert
Hall, Glasgow. Info and booking: 0131 554 9977,


Scottish Community Development Centre ‘Policy for Practice’,
two seminars, Centrum Building, 38 Queen Street, Glasgow: 1. Social
Capital:  What does it mean in practice?
(7 May, 2-4.30pm) 2. Community Development approaches to Social Inclusion (11
June, 2-4:30pm). Info/book: Jo Kennedy,


You and Your Community Millennium Awards of £350-£1850 to
‘put bright ideas into action to benefit individuals and community’; groups of
up to 10 people can apply to undertake a joint project (max. grant £10K) More:
Scottish Community Foundation, 0131 524 0320,


Community Interest Companies (CICs) are a proposed new form
of company aimed for use by social enterprises.  A briefing paper has just been produced by the UK Social
Enterprise Coalition. It’s at:


Apart from grants, the new foundation UnLtd has a research
section which will issue monthly bulletins. This month’s offering is in
collaboration with Senscot Member Paola Grenier of the London School of
Economics, and is at;



This week we profile Ecocorps Scotland Ltd, a social
enterprise based in Gardenstown, Banff. In partnership with the highly regarded
Cetacean Research and Rescue Unit (CRRU), Ecocorps gives a unique opportunity
for “ecovolunteers” – green or conservation volunteers who care about nature,
wildlife and animals – to take part in CRRU’s research and rescue programme
with whales and dolphins in the Moray Firth. The revenue raised by Ecocorps is
used to directly fund the costs of photography, boat surveys, general equipment
maintenance and food & accommodation incurred by the team during the course
of the project work, and has attracted participants from as far a field as
Alaska to Hong Kong. More:
(Project Profiles)



Senscot got Michael Moore’s latest bulletin on Monday
(Stupid White Men) and although it’s a bit of a rant he’s a great warrior
against the war.  His letter ends,
“Unfortunately, Bush and Co. are not through yet. This invasion and conquest
will encourage them to do it again elsewhere. 
The real purpose of this war was to say to the rest of the world, “Don’t
Mess with Texas – If You Got What We Want, We’re Coming to Get It!”  This is not the time for the majority of us
who believe in a peaceful America to be quiet. 
Make your voices heard.” Moore could be right of course, why should
these guys stop now?



Edmund Burke famously wrote, “To be attached to the
sub-division – to love the little platoon we belong to in society is the first
principle (the germ as it were) of public affections.”  Commenting on this insight – David Marquand (liberal
academic) wrote, “Burke obviously believed that small groups were the building
blocks for big ones – that a flourishing political community will be a mosaic
of smaller groupings which act as nurseries for mutual loyalty and trust, and
where the skills of self-government may be learned and practiced.”  I believe that as a community worker I
adopted this philosophy many years ago – that society will work better if we
create a whole new layer of decision making closer to people and communities.
Superb article in New Start this week, which I commend to anyone involved in
community empowerment. (It’s at
Personally, in the coming elections I’ll vote for the party which is most aware
of the need to foster local democracy – if there is such.


Abbie Hoffman: “Democracy is not something you believe in or
a place to hang your hat, but it’s something you do. You participate. If you
stop doing it, democracy crumbles.”


That’s all for this week. Good luck with your adventures.

Best wishes,



If you would like to receive this bulletin directly, e-mail