Senscot Bulletin: 27-10-2006

Dear members and friends,

Wasn’t Helen Mirren superb in Prime Suspect on Sunday?  It wasn’t the plot so much as Detective Superindent Jane Tennison’s personal demons which I found compelling.  About to retire from the job which defined her life, Jane copes with – the death of her father – her alienation from her family – her own disintegration into drink.  Mirren’s brilliant acting captures layer upon layer of vulnerability and moral complexity.  Marvellous stuff.
 I’m interested in the psychology of why we love brave, solitary, alcoholic detectives.  John Rebus; Jack Laidlaw; Fitz; my own favourite Philip Marlowe; many others.  Our struggle with the forces of darkness is ancient and eternal – printed in the psyche of our species.  Our heroes are idealised aspects of ourselves – protecting the innocent – confronting the wicked.  But why are they all damaged – losers.  Why do they never get the money or the fame or the girl?
 We leave Jane Tennison avoiding her own retirement party – heading for an AA meeting.  We wonder how she will fare – in a lonely house – without her work – without bottles.  Writing about Philip Marlowe – his creator Raymond Chandler said ‘I see him always in a lonely street, in lonely rooms, puzzled but never quite defeated.’  Its not much is it?

I believe that the biggest scandal of the current term of Scotland’s parliament will turn out to be its failure to make Glasgow Housing Association deliver community ownership – through second stage transfer. As Mike Dailly from Govan Law centre wrote to the Herald, ‘If the idea was to create a local authority housing department mark 2  we could have done so for a fraction of the money spent.’ Most people think that the independence of Holyrood is a struggle with Westminster, but the Labour party which rules Scotland is itself ruled by its municipal fiefdoms. They loathe community empowerment and have tried to sink a flagship Executive policy. In May our communities will vote.

On Thursday (yesterday) Ruth Kelly launched the long awaited local government white paper This is the one they called ‘double devolution’ which is intended to redefine the relationship between local councils, communities and citizens. Today’s Guardian leader is about the bill but doesn’t even mention community empowerment. More next week:

The trustees of Scotland UnLtd and Senscot have agreed a new joint venture company called ‘First Port’: ‘to release the potential of social entrepreneurship in Scotland and to benefit communities and individuals to promote social change. Funding has been secured to appoint an executive director – initially until March 2008. Here’s the job advert and a background paper:   This will be an exciting appointment in the Scottish social enterprise landscape.  

On 14 October David Miliband wrote a piece in the Spectator, aimed at a Tory readership. This is of interest if, like me, you are trying to discern the difference between the ideologies of the parties. Suggesting David Cameron is muddled, Miliband argues: ‘once you admit that social justice is the central purpose of political and moral life, then you are damned to a slippery slope of collective action that is contrary to a world view based on personal freedom.’

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but submit jobs and events and we’ll post them on our site. See This week:

JOBS: 22 vacancies, incl. posts with: Renfrewshire-Wide Credit Union, Fyne Futures, Forth Sector, Ayrshire Initiatives, SCVO, Forward Scotland, Women Onto Work.

EVENTS: 27 events, incl. Changes to Age Legislation, 30 Oct, Edinburgh; Social Business events: ‘Finding partners for growth in social business’, 3, 17, Nov, Edinburgh; Same Difference? urban, rural and regional approaches to regeneration, 7 Nov, Perth; Launch of new Building Bridges Programme, 9 Nov, Glasgow; How can mainstream NHS services contribute to regeneration? 9 Nov, Edinburgh; Understanding basic employment law for social enterprises in Dumfries & Galloway, 20 Nov, Castle Douglas.

There’s a rare opportunity to rent space at Edinburgh’s newest, most dynamic multi-arts centre, The Out of the Blue Drill Hall:

The seminar about using unclaimed assets to create a new social investment bank was well attended and I learnt from the discussion. But I couldn’t help feeling that this idea will require a lot of negotiation – particularly how it would be positioned in the existing UK social investment scene. Here’s the presentation from the event:

Printer says they’ll deliver my book ‘You’ve Got to laugh’ next Friday. Dead excited – like being a writer. Hope to post your orders week 6 Nov. Along with the book you’ll get an invoice for £11.50 – £10 plus £1.50 pp.

Global trade: In one year the port of New York City exported $431,000 worth of Californian almonds to Italy and imported $397,000 worth of Italian almonds into the US. (- Adbusters, March/April 2006) For every £1 spent on bananas at Tesco, only 1p goes to the plantation growers. An estimated 40p goes to Tesco. Tesco makes a profit of £1 million a week purely from the sale of bananas. (- Observer Food monthly, Jan 2004)

This week’s bulletin profiles a community-led Arts project in Glasgow that has been providing a valuable local service for over 20 years. Gorbals Arts Project (GAP) provides tuition and workshops to local people as well as working in partnership with local groups and statutory agencies to provide artwork that improves the local area giving people a sense of pride and ownership of their own communities. In order to support their work, GAP takes on public commissions which provides an important additional source of income. GAP also has a drop-in centre and outreach service that are available not only to local people but also to those from other parts of the city. For further info’, see

The grandfather of the ‘new economics’ was John Ruskin. 150 years ago he wrote: ‘the real science of political economy, which has yet to be distinguished from the bastard science, as medicine from witchcraft, and astronomy from astrology – is that which teaches nations to desire and labour for the things that lead to life: and which teaches them to scorn and destroy the things that lead to destruction.’
 Ruskin distinguished between wealth and well-being: ‘There is no wealth but life, including all its powers of love, of joy, and of admiration. That country is the richest which nourishes the greatest number of noble and happy human beings. That man is richest who has the widest helpful influence, both personal, and by means of possessions, over the life of others’

That’s all for this week. Good luck with your adventures.

Best wishes,

To receive this bulletin directly, you can sign up here: