Dear members and friends,
Just bought John Le Carre’s latest novel – ‘A Legacy of Spies’; the story references several characters from his previous books – including a guest appearance from George Smiley himself ! – hoping for a weekend of contented immersion. My left brain knows fine – that both Philip Marlowe (Chandler) and George Smiley (Le Carre) – are fictional creations; but our right brain decides for itself what’s ‘real’ – for as long as I can remember, both these characters have featured large in my ‘circle of influence’.
Superficially, my heroes have little in common; Marlowe; the hard-boiled, wisecracking private eye – stalking the ‘mean streets’ of 1930s Los Angeles. Smiley: tubby, bespectacled, scholarly – recruited to Britain’s Secret Service from his obscure Oxford College. But, meeting them both, you would recognise courage, integrity, honour – and a certain ‘undefeatable’ quality. Interestingly, they are both, by choice, ‘loners’ – without partners. Another important similarity is a look they often wear – as though they had something special to do.
Some time ago – a friend (forty years younger) gave me the boxed set of Breaking Bad; in spite of recommendations, it didn’t chime with me and I didn’t persevere. When asked why, I explained that I couldn’t fathom who was the ‘good guy’ in the story – who would restore moral order. My friend was dismissive – saying that ‘real life’ was not as simple as ‘goodies and baddies’. I’ve come to believe – that in everything that can be called art – there is a quality of ‘redemption’. This is probably ‘old fashioned’ now – but Marlowe and Smiley would understand what I mean.
I check out about a dozen political commentators each week; regarding Scotland in particular, I favour Iain Macwhirter, Kevin McKenna and Lesley Riddoch – with whose politics and social policy I mostly concur. Their reaction to Sturgeon’s new legislative programme has been generally favourable – seeing it as a distinctive move towards the social democratic left; I want to agree – but hesitate. No mention, for instance, of ending the tax advantages enjoyed by independent schools – as recommended by the Barclay Review. Many of us see this issue as a litmus test of the elite’s influence over the SNP.
For as long as I can remember – Govts in both England and Scotland make periodic attempts to compromise the independence of the Lottery; particularly the requirement that its spend should not replace Govt. spend – but be ‘additional’. In England, the credible Directory of Social Change (DSC) warns that this is once again an issue, with the Cabinet Office’s proposed changes to policy directions – requiring that the Lottery supports particular Govt. policies. I’ve never fully understood how independent (or not) our Scotland Committee is from London; if they were being pressurised, would they alert the Scottish third sector?
The journalist Ian Jack offered a nostalgic piece in Saturday’s Guardian; he laments that the new Forth Crossing had only minimal British input: “The main designers are American, Danish, Dutch, Swedish and German. The main contractors are American, German and Spanish. The steel comes from China, the concrete from Germany and the cable stays from Switzerland”. As a passionate defender of local economies and Scottish independence – I would have paid the extra to source commodities like steel and concrete nearer home. But the design and build should go to the best in the world – it probably did.
The writer and activist George Monbiot sometimes punts ideas which I ignore; his ‘re-wilding’ campaign would have packs of wolves roaming the woods around my cottage; but he has written a longer think-piece for the Guardian which many Senscot readers will appreciate. He argues, correctly in my opinion, that it’s not strong leaders or parties which dominate politics – as much as a powerful political narrative. His piece references the demise of both the Keynesian and Neoliberal narratives – then reaches for a new political story; based neither on the state nor the free market – it’s about the rise of the commons – people power.
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See http://www.senscot.net/jobsevents.php this week:
JOBS: Silver Stag of Scotland, WHALE Arts, Balerno Village Trust, Gairloch and Loch Ewe Action Forum, Isle of Luing Community Trust, Glasgow Homelessness Network, Wasps Ltd, Zero Tolerance
EVENTS: Pre-start Leadership (East Lothian), 15 Sep; Wine Tasting Evening, 15 Sep; Thai Cook & Dine Evening, 28 Sep; Leading Growth for Senior Leaders, 25 Oct; Bistro Night Friday, 06 Nov
TENDERS: The Provision of Training Accommodation – Scottish Ambulance Service, Community Based Hearing Support – South Ayrshire Council, Provision of Services for Survivors of Trauma – Falkirk Council
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The SENs Weekly Update: Date for the Diary: Booking forms are now available for our SE Conference at the Westerwood Hotel – on the 7th/8th December 2017. This year’s event – on the theme of Collaboration (title to follow) – is being run in partnership with Social Firms Scotland and Community Enterprise; with support from Scottish Community Alliance. The programme over the two days will explore how social and community enterprises can work better and more effectively together. Items on the agenda will include old favourites such as speed networking; showcases; and a revamped Dragons’ Den. We also hope to introduce newer initiatives such as a bespoke support programme for community-based enterprises and a new sector-led community loan fund. One of our sessions will also look at the SE Action Plan and the specific areas in which locally-based SEs can make their own distinct contribution. To book your place, see Booking Form.
P4P is now operating at full capacity – with four members of staff – and is out and about this month at a series of events across the country. A new email contact address is now available – firstname.lastname@example.org – with the new website going ‘live’ over the next couple of weeks. Events at which P4P will be participating include ‘Meet the Buyer’ (28 Sept) – with a dedicated Social Enterprise Zone – sponsored by P4P – providing access to support agencies; P4P, Ready for Business and Co-operative Development Scotland as well as third sector consortia colleagues CRNS and Haven. ‘Meet the Buyer’ is Scotland’s largest FREE procurement event (around 2,000 attendees) bringing together buyers from across the public sector as well as private tier 1 contractors, offering businesses the opportunity to speak directly to purchasers and decision makers.
Last week’s CEIS Conference saw a discussion on the relationship between social enterprise (SE) in Scotland (as represented by the SE Code) and socially responsible businesses (SRBs). Senscot’s view on this is no big secret – that SE in Scotland is not for private profit. But we realise that genuine SRBs can be part of a wider movement – and perhaps merit their own discrete support infrastructure – out with the third sector. Some folk wonder why this distinction is so important. This story aboutUK recruitment firm Cordant ‘becoming’ a social enterprise should tell you why.
The 3rd John Pearce Lecture takes place on Monday, 2nd October (5pm) at the Deeprose Lecture Theatre at Glasgow Caledonian University. This year’s lecture is to be delivered by Laurie Russell of the Wise Group. Laurie follows Willie Roe (2015) and Pauline Graham (2016). The theme of Laurie’s lecture will be: “Are social enterprises in Scotland fit and agile enough to face the challenges of the future?”. See details on bookings etc.The evening will also include an update on the Social Enterprise Collection (Scotland).They are now looking to identify individuals and organisations who in time may wish to add their papers to the Collection, allowing them to develop a Scottish SE collection of excellence. See ‘Pledge’ Form.
This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise, based in Govan, that focuses on supporting survivors of trauma. Thriving Survivors, one of the ‘Rising Stars’ at last week’s CEIS Conference, offerings support and extensive training programmes with the aim of providing a second chance for those who need a helping hand and a little understanding of how trauma significantly effects everyday life. This support helps individuals to find, stay and progress in work so that they can thrive in life after trauma. All of their services are free to end users. Thriving Survivors retain around 20% of their service users as volunteers who – with their own individual skill sets and life experiences – have become the backbone of the organisation.
I have just re-read The Spy Who Came in from the Cold – Le Carre’s 1963 masterpiece; Graham Greene called it the best spy story he has ever read. Here Alec Leamas reflects from a Stasi prison:
“He knew then what it was that Liz had given him; the thing that he would have to go back and find if ever he got home to England: it was the caring about little things – the faith in ordinary life; the simplicity that made you break up a bit of bread into a paper bag, walk down to the beach and throw it to the gulls. It was this respect for triviality which he had never been allowed to possess; whether it was bread for the seagulls or love. Whatever it was he would go back and find it; he would make Liz find it for him.”
That’s all for this week.
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