Senscot Bulletin: 16.06.17

Dear members and friends,

This week I must have read fifty political commentaries – enough already; I declare myself well satisfied with developing events.  May exposed as a phony – eject; Corbyn, exposed as the ‘real deal’ leader of a growing social movement, has got them all scared.  The hard Brexiteers now back in their box; the Labour manifesto bringing politics back into familiar territory: that the strong will always oppress and exploit the weak if society doesn’t stop them.  It’s a straight left/right choice again – which everyone understands. (One I particularly liked was Fintan O’Toole’s column in the New York Review.)
            In Scotland, the indy cause has been diminished by over-association with the SNP; it deserves more ‘gravitas’ than party politics allows.  Indy support runs constant around 45% – the SNP now around 37%; it’s time for the leadership to pass to a cross party – cross civil society – properly resourced, Scottish Independence Convention (good piece from Robin McAlpine).  The SNP has been a broad church, trying to accommodate everyone – but Corbyn’s manifesto redraws the map; some ‘repositioning’ become necessary – the SNPs compromises will define them.
            One of my favourite uptown Edinburgh restaurants; awaiting my lunch companion, I count thirty two diners – half of them fiddling with devices – compulsive.  Neal Ascherson has the theory that the internet and social media, ‘winking, bleeping knowledge in their palms’ gives this generation the impression of control over a virtual world; and with this comes increased confidence to challenge real power structures.  I wonder if this connects to the increasing volatility of world-wide electorates – evidence of a new generation of political engagement – I hope so.


Grenfell Tower – can’t remember ever seeing a tower blaze with such ferocity; horror now turning to anger with the realization that this tragedy was probably avoidable; imagine the anxiety for anyone living in one of these high rises. Deepest sympathy for all the families involved; the implications will run and run – because this may be about reduced standards of safety judged ‘good enough’ for housing the people with less money.


John Major cautioned this week that a UK govt. majority, dependent on the DUP, risks jeopardising the Northern Ireland peace process; without the ‘impartiality’ of the UK govt. – he warns that a ‘fragile’ process could ‘unwind’. Faced with the emergent Corbyn movement (thousands joining daily) it is understandable that the Tories want to stay in power; but the electorate expects them to understand that the return of paramilitary violence across a hard NI border would be calamity of a whole different order. The achievement of the Good Friday agreement required levels of sensitivity and diplomacy – absent in the present UK administration.


In spite of the efforts, over many years, of Lesley Riddoch, Andy Wightman and many others (including myself) – there are no signs of SNP intent to enable Scotland’s missing tier of local democracy.  A small team of civil servants are presently consulting on a Local Democracy Bill – expected during this parliament – but the political vision is not of a Scotland with 200 municipalities; the wider public appears indifferent.  Email from Oliver Escobar’s Citizen Participation Network announcing £1.5m Community Choices Fund.  Personally, I regard Participatory Budgeting as a distraction – but Escobar has stuck with it and is making progress – so good on him; our ‘missing tier’ remains distant.


At weekends, I buy newspapers; each quarter, in the Herald, I’m pleased to receive a free copy of Scottish Review of Books.  Of its dozen articles,  I usually read three or four – enjoying a (remote) familiarity with Scotland’s posher cultural scene; grateful for Alan Taylor’s selections – particularly current edition’s interview with artist/writer John Byrne.  Born the same year as myself (1940) – his TV and playwriting is well known – but it’s his painting – particularly portraiture, that’s immediately recognisable; I also enjoy his irreverent candour.  Byrne is one of those who connect me to the raw power of Scotland’s creative energy.


The SNP govt. – more frequently associated with centralising decision making – has this week introduced a bill offering greater power to Scotland’s islands.  As well as granting powers over activities on and around their coasts – the bill proposes that future legislation, across the public sector, will be ‘island proofed’.  An excellent example of what this policy will encourage, is the recent granting of powers to the local community in Tobermory to operate the town’s harbor.  The Tobermory Harbour Association – an asset locked community enterprise – will manage the facility on behalf of Mull residents and businesses.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Wasps Studios, Senscot, The Larder Cook School, Action Porty, Community Ownership Support Service, Development Trust Association Scotland, RAMH, WorkingRite, Rocket Science UK Ltd
EVENTS: Fathers Day Parent & Child Cookery Class, 18 Jun; EXPLORE Quality Co-working 2017 2-day Workshop, 23 Jun; Curry & Ale Cook and Dine Night, 23 Jun; Social in the Gardens, 02 Aug;
TENDERS: Open Framework Agreement for Learning and Development – The City of Edinburgh Council; Provision of Domestic Abuse Support Services at HMP & YOI Polmont – Scottish Prison Service and more.
The SENs Weekly Update: Last year, Senscot commissioned a review of the Thematic SENs – which resulted in trying to focus on key priorities that could lead to joint opportunities between respective thematic areas. The specific priorities included: Health and Social Care Integration; Self Directed Support; Food Poverty; Tourism and Heritage; Creative Industries; Sport for Change; and Employability. One area that has attracted considerable interest is Tourism. So much so that we have begun to establish a new thematic SEN in Tourism. Sarah Cameron (Senscot’s Cultural & Creative SEN Co-ordinator) recently sent out an invitation to organisations to signing up for the new Tourism SEN – and has received over 100 positive responses – including 35 from members of other SENs.  Over the summer months, Sarah will be arranging initial meetings for members. For more info on the new Tourism SEN, contact


REMINDER: Next Friday (23rd June) is the closing date for applications for our two new posts with the Partnership and Procurement Hub. The posts being advertised include an additional Hub Co-ordinator (see – application pack) as well as a Hub Support Officer (see – application pack). Interviews for both posts will take place during week beginning 3rd July. For further info, contact


Rural land, owned and worked by the communities who live on it – is fundamental to social justice. We join, in spirit, with the islanders of Eigg and guests – who celebrate, this week, the 20th anniversary of their iconic community buy-out. Steadily re-populating (64 up to 105), Eigg is an exemplar for sustainable island life.


The right wing press threw everything it had at Jeremy Corbyn – the worst tabloid monstering ever – and failed to knock him over; a real victory for democracy. In this piece, George Monbiot argues that the problem is not confined to the corporate media – distorted by the whims of owner billionaires; the media got the Corbyn story so wrong because it is dominated by a solid block of affluent, middle-aged journalists who only speak to themselves and are remote from the world. The age of social media exposes this.


This week’s bulletin profiles a venture, based in the Scottish Borders, that looks to help people of all ages and from all walks of life to learn about themselves and others through nature. Instinctively Wild, formerly the Borders Environmental Education Services (BEES), has grown in recent years and now delivers projects in outdoor learning, health and team-building for a wide range of clients. These include the NHS, Local Authorities and third sector organisations. It also provides corporate packages for the public and private sectors. Specific courses include Leadership Development; Team Building; Health and Wellbeing Education; and Children and Family Events. In 2015, Instinctively Wild re-structured as a CIC with three new directors.


Paul Mason’s Guardian piece this week offers an unashamedly left wing (Antonio Gramsci) view of the Corbyn phenomenon.


"Eighty years on, the terms of the battle have changed. Today, you do not need to come up from the mine, take a shower, walk home to a slum and read the Daily Worker before you can start thinking. As I argued in Postcapitalism, the 20th-century working class is being replaced as the main actor – in both the economy and oppositional politics – by the networked individual. People with weak ties to each other, and to institutions, but possessing a strong footprint of individuality and rationalism and capacity to act. What we learned on Friday morning was how easily such networked, educated people can see through bullshit. How easily they organise themselves through tactical voting websites; how quickly they are prepared to unite around a new set of basic values once someone enunciates them with cheerfulness and goodwill, as Corbyn did."


That’s all for this week.
Best wishes,




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