The Ballon d’Or is football’s highest individual honour – the 2018 prize, going to Luka Modric, the Real Madrid midfielder. In a major boost to women’s football, their own version of the prize was introduced this year; but presenting it to Norwegian professional Ada Hegerberg – some plonker DJ asked her if she could ‘twerk’. I had to ‘search’ what this word means: “To dance in a sexually provocative manner, with thrusting hip movements, and a low squatting stance”. What an embarrassment – this is a world-class athlete – top of her game. To quote Andy Murray: “why do women have to put up with this shit?”
One of the ‘pillars’ of our local community, old Norman, parks his Land Rover near my cottage; when we coincide, we chat. Recently he tells me that David Dimbleby (aged 80) is retiring from Question Time – to be replaced by a woman; he considers this regrettable – “unless she’s got great legs and wears a short skirt. Ho,Ho,Ho!!” Old Norman’s generation, which includes myself, is disappearing – but it can’t be assumed, that this deeply ingrained denigration of women, will leave with us.
Last year, some brave individuals rocked Westminster with formal complaints, that led to three separate inquiries. But every one of the MPs implicated in that sexual harassment and bullying, is still an MP. Women activists, organising across the world, will continue to grow in numbers and effectiveness; men need to stop being defensive in discussions about gender inequality – because, in truth, there is no defence.
Donald Trump’s antics suggest that the American system of governance, their constitution, doesn’t work – but we learned this week that ours is worse; when push came to shove, Richard Nixon was ejected – but Brexit indecision has paralysed our parliament. No Commons majority, for any course of action, on the biggest issue of our times – means ‘system failure’. The shadowy European Research Group (ERG) – which won’t publish its membership – is a faction of the Tory Party – retro imperialists, seeking to crash us out of Europe. It’s difficult for normal citizens, particularly we Scots, to understand how they come to exercise such disproportionate influence over events. (they nearly did for Theresa May on Wednesday). There has been no period in my lifetime when I’ve had so little idea what might happen next – free fall.
The Senscot archive has 68 references to Ronald Cohen – going back to 2010. We see this bulletin repeatedly challenging the validity of Cohen’s vision – of social investment generating commercial returns – a new ‘asset class’ for the money markets; we argue that this is a delusion of city bankers – ignorant of the social economy. The truth is – that except on very rare occasions – social interventions require subsidy; when occasionally loans are considered – losses can be anticipated. This is Cohen’s recent message to the G20 Summit; think the inflated rhetoric of Boris Johnston on the side of a bus.
It’s no secret that Jeremy Corbyn is lukewarm about the EU – but at a socialist congress in Lisbon last week he was unusually forthright – blasting Europe’s support for austerity and failed neoliberal policies – which cause hardship, and feed right-wing populism. Corbyn will be pleased with this week’s article in Social Europe, by Thomas Piketty and Antoine Vauchez – about their manifesto for the democratisation of Europe. Piketty has written, that only a ‘wealth tax’ can slow growing economic inequality; a radical new European assembly is proposed – funded by taxing the richest. This looks very bold – but I think, eventually inevitable.
The ‘behaviours’ of the third sector are different from those of the corporate world; it’s not just that we don’t know any millionaires or film stars – our low-key restraint is intentional – chosen; discretion protects privacy. Some of Mike Small’s questions about ‘the big sleep out’ deserve to be aired.
Norman MacCaig’s ‘Praise of a Collie’ is both tender and shocking. It captures the inescapable reality of things – how we are all part of a great system of sacrifice and mutuality – the tragic grandeur of it.
“She was a small dog, neat and fluid – even her conversation was tiny: She greeted you with bow, never bow-wow. Her sons stood monumentally over her but did what she told them. Each grew grizzled till it seemed he was his own mother’s grandfather. Once, gathering sheep on a showery day, I remarked how dry she was. Pollochan said, “Ah, it would take a very accurate drop to hit Lassie.” She sailed in the dinghy like a proper sea-dog. Where’s a burn? – she’s first on the other side. She flowed through fences like a piece of black wind. But suddenly she was old and sick and crippled…I grieved for Pollochan when he took her a stroll and put his gun to the back of her head.”
The Pockets and Prospects Programme is a Scottish Govt funded initiative administered by the Scottish Community Alliance. This year, Senscot and Glasgow SEN (GSEN) has run its own Pockets and Prospects Project linked to the national Campaign to End Loneliness – with a view to informing Scottish Govt’s impending National Strategy – as well as building local connections within Glasgow itself. Together, Senscot, GSEN and its members made available a ‘programme of activities’ for community anchor organisations in the city to purchase and run in their communities. In the form of a ‘pick and mix’, the activities offered included language classes, physical activity, befriending etc – all with the objective of addressing the issue of loneliness and social isolation. It also provided an opportunity for SEs in Glasgow to develop a collaborative approach to loneliness and social isolation. This week, a ‘celebration’ of the Project took place at the Lighthouse in Glasgow – including all participating organisations. Full End of Programme Report available next week. A new Pockets and Prospects will be run in 2019.
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The SE Reference Sub-Group met last week in Perth – carrying out a SWOT analysis on the effectiveness of the SE Action Plan to date. This followed a similar exercise the week before at the Govt’s own Reference Group. Both sets of findings will be fed into the Govt’s Highlight Report – to be circulated next month. Main themes to emerge – on a positive note – were that the Strategy and Action Plan provide a genuine opportunity to grow the SE sector from the bottom up over the coming years. Less positively – a lack of transparency in application and decision-making processes – with the sense, for many frontline SEs, that the Action Plan is being ‘done to them’. At its ‘launch’, great play was made of the Action Plan being a ‘co-production’ between Govt and the sector. To ensure its long-term success, this same approach must also apply – and be seen to apply – to the design and delivery of the respective actions. See SWOT Feedback.
Further news this week of a changing of the guard amongst the well-kent faces in our SE landscape – with news that CEIS are now looking to appoint a new CEO. However, ‘heid honcho’, Gerry Higgins is not disappearing completely – instead, taking on the new role of Director of International Enterprise at CEIS and combining this post with another new role as Managing Director of SEWF. See full press release .
The new Business Support tender for SEs and third sector organisations went ‘live’ this week. At a cost of £4.5m over 3 years (with a one-year option), this represents the largest single investment by Scottish Govt as part of the SE Action Plan. The contract will run from May 2019 through to May 2022. As well as being the single biggest ‘action’ within the Action Plan, this contract has the potential to make the single biggest contribution to the growth and development of frontline SEs – building from the bottom up.
This week’s bulletin profiles a CIC, based in east Perthshire, that provides young children with outdoor, playful, learning experiences in the great outdoors. Wild Sparks Outdoor Play, originally founded in 2014, also runs holiday activity programmes in Alyth and Dunkeld, an outdoor nursery in Coupar Angus and deliver training for play and learning practitioners across Scotland. All Wild Sparks activity is led by experienced playworkers, teachers and Forest School Leaders and is based on 7-acre woodland site. Since they formally opened their doors last year, they have supported over 25 children to grow, play and learn through a nature-based pedagogy, fully compatible with Curriculum for Excellence.