Senscot Bulletin: 27.04.12

Dear members and friends,

 On Tuesday, I was one of the 100 guests for a screening of ‘You’ve Been Trumped’; it’s the story – from the point of view of local people – of Donald Trump’s development of a pristine stretch of Scottish coastline near Aberdeen.  The film is accomplished and brave – showing the value of real journalism.  It’s a powerful David and Goliath story – the dogged spirit of a few locals refusing to be trampled by a global corporation – which considers that their homes will lower the tone of a new luxury golf resort. The authorities – including, shamefully, Grampian Police – are seen to aid and abet the developer against local people. After the show, I was captured by a camera crew from CNN news.  I told the good citizens of USA that I was angry and ashamed of Scotland’s Parliament – its deference to big money – that I no longer trust the values of our First Minister.
 On a sunny day last month, a friend gave me lunch in St Rules (Ladies) Club – overlooking the hallowed 1st and 18th holes of St Andrews Old Course – what a setting!  This, the ‘home of golf’, is on Common Land – and local citizens have privileged access to all courses.  The fairways under our window are crossed by a public highway – I watch golfers courteously defer to folk going to and from the beach.  Donald Trump, and the world of privilege he would bring us – wont understand these values – this commingling; – but Alex Salmond should be careful – because we Scots understand it fine – as an important element of what we value about our country – and our way of life.

We are sad to pass on the news that Stephen Maxwell died this week at the age of 69; he was a major intellectual force in Scotland’s Third Sector and our finest commentator.  Many people will write about Stephen’s immense contributions to different areas of Scottish civil and political society – Senscot will carry our own tribute next week.  Sufficient now to record a sense of loss; firstly of a colleague with enormous personal credibility – whose knowledge and analysis of our sector was never matched; secondly of a friend – whose courteous and gracious manner won him universal respect.  See,

The right wing has a tight grip on mainstream global economics – which is why our financial systems are busted.  Glad I visited the Just Banking Conference in Edinburgh last Friday to glimpse the collective efforts of various NGOs and academics to mount an opposition.  Particularly impressed with Ann Pettifor – good speaker – convinced me that we were all ‘asleep at the wheel’ while the banks pulled off their global coup d’état over recent years.  Pettifor is not much impressed with the ‘Occupy’ campaign – didn’t go anywhere.  How the banking lobby is better organised – pays serious money to keep control of the legislative process.  People, like myself, who find politics ‘distasteful’ – need to get real – get organised.  See,

Ordinary citizens (87% of us) donate to good causes with money on which we’ve paid due income tax.  I find myself in complete agreement with Chancellor Osborne – that the same rules should apply to rich people; why should they have the option of either paying tax or exercising patronage?  Paying our taxes is a primary act of citizenship – our commitment to democratic society.  The present concerns from the charitable sector are unfortunate – but are, in my view, a secondary consideration. That rich people should not pay a lower rate of tax than ordinary citizen is the primary issue.  Polly Toynbee puts it well. See,

Congratulations to poverty campaigners at Oxfam Scotland – who have created a new technique for measuring quality of life and social justice.  Launched on Tuesday, the new ‘Humankind Index’ appears to offer much more insight and analysis of social wellbeing than traditional measures like GDP.  From 3000 respondents across Scotland, it’s evident that ‘having enough money’ is well down the index of priorities for Scots – behind decent housing, good health, satisfying work, good environment.  Government policy has much to learn from this work. See,

This week I joined a UK campaigning organisation with nearly a million members; it’s called 38 degrees – because that’s the angle at which an avalanche occurs.  Read all about it.

Everytime I pass Leith Theatre – at the end of Ferry Road in Edinburgh – I remark how forlorn and abandoned it looks.  Good news this week that its future care is to pass to a community trust – to raise the money and bring it back to life.  This is a trend which is gathering momentum across the country (see today’s profile).  Local people taking direct responsibility for aspects of the places where they live.

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  This week:
JOBS: PSS Scotland, The National Trust for Scotland, Community Enterprise, Consumeer Focus Scotland, Kinetic, Govanhill Housing Association, Show Racism the Red Card, Quarriers
EVENTS: Educational Entrepreneurship Follow Up Event, 4 May; Seeing is Believing, 12 May; Finance Training for the Third Sector, 31 May; SROI Practitioner Training, 14 Jun;
TENDERS: Outer Hebrides Destination Marketing Website, Provision of Tenancy Support Services, Supply of Ergonomic Furniture and Local Public Services in the Borders. For more details, see

NETWORKS 1st: Kim writes: Booking are now coming in for both our June Conferences. The SE and Health event, ‘Fit for Purpose’, takes place on 14th June at the Teachers’ Building in St Enoch’s Square in Glasgow. See draft programme, Programme_draft.pdf. To book, see . The SE and Sport Conference is the following week (21st June), at the Trades Hall in Glassford St, also in Glasgow. For programme and booking, see  Both events are FREE to attend.  For more Networks News, see

Highland Island Enterprise’s (HIE) profiling of social enterprise sector in their area is another example of them leading the way in Scotland – their Report includes 11 recommendations on how the SE community can be supported going forward. See, Senscot considers that this research needs to be extended across Scotland. With social enterprise being touted as having an increasing role in public service reform, it seems odd that no-one actually knows the size and scale of our sector.

Next Thursday, we head to the polls again for the Council elections. The BBC website gives a useful ‘at a glance’ guide to who’s proposing what. One that jumps out is SNP’s commitment to ‘Develop individual social enterprise strategies’ at local authority level. This is hugely encouraging. Maybe they’ll consider re-introducing the National SE Strategy – which they quietly shelved in 2007. See,
This week’s bulletin profiles the premier performing arts venue in South West Scotland. The Ayr Gaiety Theatre closed down a couple of years ago but now is re-opening as a community led facility, run by the Ayr Gaiety Partnership that will undertake the re-development and future operation of the venue.  One of their key objectives is to create an arts hub facility for artists and creative practitioners, and a successful and sustainable arts centre and visitor attraction that contributes to the regeneration of Ayr and the surrounding area in South Ayrshire. For more, see

40 years ago some introduced me to the writings of Erich Fromm – and his remains a voice which steadies me.
 "If other people do not understand our behaviour – so what? Their request that we must only do what they understand is an attempt to dictate to us.  If this is being ‘asocial’ or ‘irrational’ in their eyes, so be it.  Mostly they resent our freedom and our courage to be ourselves.  We owe nobody an explanation or an accounting, as long as our acts do not hurt or infringe on them.  How many lives have been ruined by this need to ‘explain’, which usually implies that the explanation be ‘understood’, i.e. approved.  Let your deeds be judged, and from your deeds, your real intentions, but know that a free person owes an explanation only to himself – to his reason and his conscience – and to the few who may have justified claim for explanation."

That’s all for this week.

Good luck with your adventures

Best wishes,


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Senscot is a Company, registered in Scotland. Company Reg No. 278156: Scottish Charity No. SC 029210