Senscot Bulletin: 28.03.14

Dear members and friends,

         The sunlight of Andalucía – always releases in me a powerful impulse to walk; as my mobility decreases (cervical spondylosis) this urge increases. My trudging has an elemental feel – like when our nomadic ancestors couldn’t keep up with the tribe – they were simply abandoned. On my walks I enjoy searching for the cafes/ventas used by ordinary working Spaniards – where your coffee and tostada will be half the price.
         The economy of the Costa del Sol is over-dependent on tourism and rich incomers; the ‘normal’ inequality of Scotland is more pronounced here – more extreme displays of ostentatious wealth. An international elite who live and shop and play in different places; who speak different languages; whose children go to different schools; who probably pay no taxes. The stark separation of rich and poor is not a sound basis for society; nor is it a satisfying way to live.
       I now find the whole ‘airport experience’ acutely stressful and demoralising. It seems to epitomise a culture where crass commercial interests have displaced the basic human courtesies which make life tolerable. Alan Sugar says that of all the trappings of wealth – he would miss most his private jet – to return again to the ‘cattle market’. At the end of his acclaimed book ‘What Money Can’t Buy’ – Michael Sandel says; “Democracy does not require perfect equality – but it does require citizens to share a common life… for this is how we learn to negotiate and abide our differences and how we come to care for the common good”. 

If we are to create robust institutions which serve the common good- rather than interests of a rich elite – our movement needs to understand complex governance issues; this is why the present shambles at the Co-op Bank and Co-op Group is so worrying. It is an issue of scale – that big Co-ops lose contact with their members/owners; is it more fundamental – that the Co-op model is inherently unsuitable for the governance of large businesses. Research by Prof. Johnston Birchall of Stirling Yooni refutes this. He has carried out the first systematic review of the governance of 60 of the world’s largest Co-ops – and found it to be as good, if not better than anything found in the PLC realms. Ed Mayo has blogged on this in the Huffington Post. See,

Canon Kenyon Wright has written open letters to Gordon Brown and David Cameron – both of which merit our attention. He says he hasn’t made up his mind about a yes/no vote – and sets out what is, for him, the key question. He’s not interested in further devolution – no matter how ‘max’ it is; ‘devolved power is retained power’. He wants the irreversible constitutional sovereignty of Scotland – and asks whether this is achievable within the Union – and the answer will decide him. See,

The Scottish Affairs Committee of the House of Commons – which doesn’t lack determination – has published an interim report on Land Reform; it says that Scotland lags behind many comparable countries – and calls for the publication of full and clear information on land ownership. Andy Wightman advises this group. See, Community Land Scotland (CLS) is the organisation that represents Scotland’s community land owners; at a recent gathering at Bunchrew House, Inverness, CLS met with international land campaigners – and adopted the Bunchrew Declaration – re-affirming their commitment to campaign for a more radical reform of land ownership in Scotland. Read the declaration,

The English umbrella group Locality’s ‘Local by Default’ campaign – which seeks to replace the giant public services contractors with local community organisations – has already received widespread support. David Floyd, in his Beanbag Blog, takes a closer look – welcomes this contribution to an important debate – but argues that more quality evidence is needed to make the case. See,
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Forever Angels Baby Home, Transition Extreme Sports Ltd, Venture Trust, Food Banks Partnership Aberdeen, The Salvation Army Falkirk, Cornerstone, Indigo Project Solutions Ltd, Assist Social Capital
EVENTS: Portobello Market & The Science Festival, 05 Apr; East End Women’s Heritage Walk, 06 Apr; SIIA 2014-15 Information Evening, 09 Apr; Social Enterprise Introductory Workshop, 01 May;
TENDERS: Consultancy Requirement: Skye and Lochalsh Mental Health Association Feasibility and Business Planning for their Recycling Business. For more 

The SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: This week, SEN Chairs met in Glasgow – to reflect on the last year`s activity, the progress made and the challenges still face as they look forward to the year ahead. Key topics for discussion included the need to continue building relationships at a local level with Third Sector Interfaces (TSIs) and to maintain close working relationships with the providers of Scottish Govt’s main support contracts – Just Enterprise and Developing Markets for Third Sector Providers – as the new contracts commence. The Chairs also discussed the recent SE Mapping Report by EKOS (see below) as well as being updated on progress with the Scottish Community Banking Trust.
For more SENs News, see

A reader sent this interesting article from the New York Times in which Jeremy Rifkin tries to look beyond Capitalism. He says that the inherent dynamism of competitive markets is bringing costs so far down that many goods and services are nearly free – abundant – and no longer subject to market forces. He offers a glimpse of a future world – partly beyond markets – where we will be living in an increasingly inter-dependent, collaborative, global commons. I’d like to believe this. See,

You may remember that there was supposed to be an annual, national Big Society Day – like Comic Relief, Sports Relief etc; but Nick Hurd, Civil Society Minister admitted on Radio 4 this week that they’re not going to bother. See, . The demise of Big Society as a brand was hastened by the ongoing investigation of the National Audit Office (NAO) into the £3m that disappeared into the Big Society network with scant trace. The NAO enquiry is to the credit of Tania Mason – an investigative journalist with Civil See,

Last year, the BIG Lottery commissioned EKOS to do a mapping of the SE community in Scotland. Operating within a limited budget, the Report was only ever going to offer a ‘snapshot’ of our sector. Some of their headline figures include: over 3,500 SEs; 57% generating more than 50% of income through trading; over 120,000 staff; and a joint turnover (2012/13) of almost £7bn. See Report in full,

Firstport is on a roll these days. Following on from the successful launch, last month, of the ‘Beyond the Finish Line’, they have now launched another new initiative, LaunchMe. LaunchMe is Scotland’s first social enterprise accelerator programme. Over the next 3 years, Firstport will work with 15 early stage SEs to help them scale up their enterprises and increase their social impact. The first round for applications opened this week (25th March) and closes on 2nd June. See details,

This week’s bulletin profiles a community enterprise in Kilmarnock providing a range of services from its multi-purpose premises in the town centre. The Base Kilmarnock`s mission is to bring the local community together to meet and enjoy a range of classes and activities for all section of the community. In addition to the core activities, the Base runs its own café and also has its own Design, Print & Web Centre – an in-house design service offering a professional service to local business; community groups etc at affordable prices.
For more see,

The ending of Michael Sandel’s book ‘What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets’.

“Democracy does not require perfect equality – but it does require citizens to share a common life. What matters is that people of different backgrounds and social positions encounter one another, and bump up against one another, in the course of everyday life. For this is how we learn to negotiate and abide our differences and how we come to care for the common good.
And so, in the end, the question of markets really is a question about how we want to live together. Do we want a society where everything is up for sale? Or are there certain moral and civic goods that markets do not honour and money cannot buy”.

That’s all for this week.
Best wishes,


Subscribe to this bulletin:

To unsubscribe or change subscription address/ e-mail

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