Senscot Bulletin: 13.05.11

Dear members and friends,

I wonder if we Scots were bewitched by the wind of change sweeping across Mediterranean Africa – extinguishing spent regimes.  Tony Benn once named a book ‘If voting changed anything – it would be illegal’ – but he was wrong, voting changed Scotland this week – big time – and Labour’s century long dominance appears to be over.
 Ian McWhirter’s column in the Guardian on Friday recalled a time when in Glasgow and West Central Scotland – a monkey with a red rosette could get elected.  He called the piece ‘A bad night for monkeys’.  In ‘one party’ states (like the communist bloc), the influence of the ruling party extends way beyond politics – encroaching on the realm of the citizen and cramping local democracy.  The significance of this election for me is that the debate, about what kind of society we want to create, had been liberated from our suffocating institutions – with their ‘no we cant’ gatekeepers; it can now return to where it belongs – wider civil society.
 The Scots appetite for self-determination appears to be growing. It will emerge in due course, whether it’s ‘independence’ or some kind of federalism that we choose – but meanwhile the constitutional discussion needs to be connected to a vision for society.  There are many networks and initiatives, like Senscot, which work for a socially just Scotland – built on empowered communities; I predict a flowering of this activity.  This may have been a bad week for monkeys – but it was an historic one for Scotland. (Gerry Hassan reflects on the `strange death of Labour Scotland`),

It’s slowly dawning on me that the Tory Govt’s understanding of social enterprise is something like the Body Shop (sold to L’Oreal) – or Seeds of Change (sold to Mars) or Ben and Jerry’s (sold to Unilever); something which can be privatised.  It’s important at this time for the social enterprise community to re-emphasise our position – that any business that does not have an asset lock – is not a social enterprise.  People who come into our movement have made a decision not to pursue personal wealth from their endeavours.  It’s not surprising that Tories don’t understand such behaviour – but they mustn’t be allowed to mess with what the public see as our defining characteristic.  Influences from USA – like the Schwab Foundation – have already conceded that ‘private profit’ businesses are part of the spectrum of social enterprise. We need to be aware that there are voices in England singing the same tune. See,

One of Senscot’s more inspired moves was to introduce Edgar Cahn to Scotland at our 2008 AGM.  His book – ‘No more Throwaway People’ ‘invented’ the concept of co-production – whereby people with needs are seen as co-producers of their own services.  This idea is gaining momentum in the UK – and NESTA had Edgar over to London for an afternoon seminar on 10th May.  This is a video of the great man’s talk.

Davie Bryce – founder of Calton Athletic – died on 27th April, aged 62.  I didn’t know him well – but close friends who did, always said Davie was ‘the real thing’.  In the first half of his life, he was involved with crime, violence, alcohol and drug addiction.  But in his 30s he turned it all around and founded Calton Athletic recovery programme.  He was vehemently opposed to giving addicts methadone – and, in consequence, Calton Athletic was shamefully treated by Scottish officialdom.  Davie was one of the characters who make me proud of Scotland’s down-to-earthness – a maverick, battling spirit – the best of Glasgow.  Irvine Welsh wrote the forward to Davie`s book – Alive and Kicking. See,

On the 25th June, I’ll be attending a conference in London called ‘Building the Good Society’ – the Democratic left’s alternative to David Cameron’s Big Society.  Like so many people, I’m looking for a vision of society – which is not Neo- liberalism – which can unite us in the pursuit of social justice.  I read a note of a recent debate comparing Big Society and Good Society – but found it too ‘intellectual’.  I liked this comment by Stan Rosenthal,

The Tory Govt’s efforts to introduce ‘community right to buy’ legislation to England – has rattled the cages of the land owning classes.  Steve Wyler (CEO of Locality) is a long time advocate of this legislation; his bi-weekly newsletter gives a priceless account of his meeting with the Countryside Landowners Association.

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See . This week: 
JOBS: Community Land Scotland, Edinburgh SEN, Faith in Community Scotland, Social Investment Scotland, Scottish Community Safety Network, Woodlands Community Development Trust
EVENTS: ‘How to’ Raise Money from, 25 May
TENDERS: Provision of an Integrated Waste Management ICT Solution, Glow Futures, UK-Glasgow: Repair and maintenance services, APFM00166 New Skate Park at Kings Park, Stirling,

NETWORKS 1st: Colin writes: As everyone catches their breath again after last week`s dramatic election results, it is interesting to ponder their impact on SEN members and the wider social enterprise community. Amongst the highlights of the SNP Manifesto for community/social enterprises, but not picked up by many observers, was the proposed introduction of a Sustainable Procurement Bill ( When introduced, this bill will build on SNP`s previous support and encouragement of community benefit clauses and clarify the legislative framework for procurement decisions and support the greater use of social and environmental benefit clauses. With luck, this will prove a significant breakthrough for social enterprises across the country.
For more Networks News, see

Scotland’s first ever Social Enterprise and Sport Conference takes place on 1st June at the Stirling Management Centre. The programme will include workshops on the following themes; The role of volunteering in social enterprise (Winning Scotland Foundation/Ayr United Sports Academy); Generating income streams (Community Enterprise); Use of digital marketing and social media (Civic UK); and Legal structures (OSCR and Senscot Legal). Panel discussion will include Mel Young (Homeless World Cup) and Stewart Harris (sportscotland). See updated programme, . Places are still available. If you’d like to book, see

In 2006, Senscot and Highland and Islands Enterprise put together a `Who’s Who` Guide to social enterprise in Scotland and the UK. Together, we have refreshed this document (a 2011 version). The Guide’s aim is to act not only as a guide for people new to the sector, but also as an aide memoire for `old hands’. Some gaps still exist while we await developments with regards to contracts and new legislation (both in Scotland and England). We’ll update the Guide as and when these come into the public domain. See Guide,

Firstport`s next deadline for Level 2 Awards (up to £20k) is Monday 6th June. They are targeting social entrepreneurs who can provide evidence of a tested or piloted model and can demonstrate it delivers real social impact.  Additionally, applicants need to demonstrate a trading track record – that is, generation of income that is not grant funding. See more,

This week’s bulletin profiles a community-owned sports facility based in Callander. The McLaren Leisure Centre is a local community enterprise, led by a voluntary Board and a staff complement of 35. Their facilities include Swimming Pool; Fitness Suite; Climbing Wall; Tennis Courts; and a Sports Hall. Recently, they agreed a five year Service level Agreement with Stirling Council. For more, see

Edmund Burke had this, now famous, insight: “To be attached to the subdivision, to love the little platoon we belong to in society, is the first principle (the germ as it were) of public affections.”  David Marquand commented on this in ‘The Unprincipled Society’.
 “Burke obviously believed that small groups were the building blocks for big ones: that the emotions which held a whole society together were rooted in and developed by the groups of which it was made up…  In this perspective, a flourishing political community will be a mosaic of smaller collectivities, which act as nurseries for the feelings of mutual loyalty and trust which hold the wider community together, and where the skills of self-government may be learned and practised… Plainly, this implies that political decisions should be taken on the lowest possible level of government”.  Labour’s long reign over Scotland had no understanding of this dynamic.  It remains to be seen if our new rulers are wiser.

That’s all for this week.

Good luck with your adventures

Best wishes,


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