This bulletin’s (online) archive has nine references to Mary Warnock, who has died aged 94; this is one of my favourites: “Society needs morality, and at the very centre of morality is not being greedy – not taking too much for yourself – realising that other people are just as important as us”. This simple clarity is from a legendary moral philosopher, who chaired examinations of some of the most complex ethical questions of our time – yet was able to speak the language of ‘the commons’.
Warnock came from Britain’s ruling class – she and her husband rising to the top of the Oxbridge system; elitist and not very democratic. In the period, between the war and Margaret Thatcher, such people were better behaved than now; the ideal of ‘serving society’ was more widespread – neoliberalism had not yet contaminated public life. As that generation passes away, I hope we’re not seeing the end of moral philosophy as a discipline; it’s a bit too important for twitter and social media.
Mary Warnock was a liberal, in the sense that she believed people should take – and take responsibility for – their own decisions; though she repudiated all forms of ‘supernatural’ authority – she championed the ‘moral authority’ which speaks of our duty, to our own families and wider society. Reflecting on her life, Warnock said: “Nothing was, or ever could be truly intolerable, except the recognition that one has behaved badly in some serious, non-trivial matter”. Such thoughts are uncomfortable – but someone has to say these things.
“Parliament finally has had its say: No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No.” – one of Thursday’s sardonic headlines; But the ‘indicative votes’ worked for me. Fear of a crash-out is receding; the Commons may not be outright ‘Remainy’, but it’s not very ‘Brexity’ either; the Eurosceptics suddenly realising – that Mrs May’s deal is as Brexity as they’re going to get. Listening to Wednesday’s debate, I was impressed by two septuagenarians: Ken Clarke and Margaret Beckett. Beckett’s speech in particular, tabling the motion for a ‘confirmatory public vote’, convinced me that this must be made to happen. In order to ‘stop the clock’ – I’ve signed the petition to revoke Article 50 – I’m number 5,896,341.
My personal history in community development is closely associated with the impact of a local newspaper, owned and managed by its community; I’m following some early ideas from the BBC Director General, Tony Hall, for the creation of a Local Democracy Foundation (see extract from his speech). With money from the BBC and businesses like Facebook, Google etc, he wants to support a new tier of local reporters, covering what really matters to communities. I’m afraid his early concept is too centralised; the BBC is far too big and remote and close to Govt, to credibly champion local democracy – especially in Scotland.
In ‘Winners Take All’, Anand Giridharadas told us how the much-hyped drive for ‘social return’ is mostly a brand-washing strategy, to disguise the bad behaviour of global capitalism. Impact investment, social impact bonds, public private partnerships etc are all on a neoliberal continuum, to replace the public provision of social goods and services with private provision. This article on the New Socialist website, called ‘How to Profit from Poverty’, looks at celebrations of impact investing at the recent Davos jamboree. It identifies the central ethical contradiction – extracting profit from the relief of human suffering; some don’t see it.
At the end of 2007, when she was 83, Mary Warnock wrote this piece for the Observer, about some of the enjoyable aspects of ‘settling’ for being old. She was spared her dread of dying slowly.
“So I enjoy being old, but of course I think about death. The thing I dread is dying slowly. I could not bear the humiliation and sheer embarrassment of being ‘cared for’. All the things I value, my freedom, my solitude, my being on loving terms with my children and grandchildren – but as an equal, not as an object of pity and terror – all would be snatched away and my life would mean nothing to me. I wish profoundly that I could choose when and how to die.”
Today, we publish our 14th Senscot Briefing – Social Enterprise and Heritage. The Heritage sector, according to Scottish Govt, generates £4bn for Scotland’s economy and employs over 60,000 people. These range from national organisations to an increasing number of community-led enterprises who have developed heritage-based initiatives not only to tap into the domestic and international tourism markets, but also to deliver a range of social and community benefits in education; tackling social isolation and loneliness; and regeneration. The Briefing covers current national initiatives as well as featuring case studies on the Scottish Maritime Museum (Irvine); Here We Are (Cairndow); and the Scottish Fisheries Museum (Anstruther). All Briefings are designed to explore and highlight the contribution that social enterprises are making in important policy areas and social issues affecting Scotland. See full list of Senscot Briefings.
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website.
This week, Senscot participated in the Social Enterprise Networking event in Argyll. The two-day event was supported by Argyll TSI, Inspiralba and Scotland UnLtd – with over 60 delegates representing 45 SEs. Scottish Govt provided an overview of the policy context for rural SEs – followed by a selection of workshops, networking opportunities and discussion on the development of a local SE Strategy for Argyll. The over-riding mood was incredibly positive about the contribution being made by social enterprises across Argyll – small, locally-based organisations providing important services to local communities. The note of caution, however, was the widespread concern that growth and scaling-up is being overly promoted as the way forward for social enterprise – when, in reality, this option only applies to a small number of SEs in Scotland. Last year, we carried this article ‘Wholly sustainable social enterprises are a myth’.
Fair Start Scotland – Scottish Govt’s Employability Programme – was launched in 2017 to much criticism of the level of private sector involvement – at the expense of our own third sector providers. One of the private providers – Working Links – has now gone into administration and will be replaced by US-based charity Fedcap Employment Ltd. Don’t know much about Fedcap – but it looks like they will continue to work with the existing third sector providers – Momentum; Rathbone; The Lennox Partnership and The Wise Group
Could Scotland lead the way globally with the new Scottish Govt Good Food Nation Bill ? A wide-ranging civil society coalition – the Scottish Food Coalition (SFC) –believes it could – only if our Govt is bold enough. SFC has been lobbying the Govt to introduce legislation that would see the new Bill include a statutory right to food, incorporated in Scots law, at its very heart – including a cross-cutting national food plan; new duties on public bodies to adhere to the right to food framework; and statutory targets in key areas such as food poverty, healthy weight and food waste. Such measures, SFC contends, will improve the quality, healthfulness, and environmental sustainability of our food while ensuring that those who produce and prepare it do so under fair, safe and secure conditions. The ball is now in the Govt’s court.
Another Scottish Govt consultation that may be of interest to bulletin readers. Scottish Parliament’s Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee is seeking submissions on the future of funding for the arts in Scotland – with a focus on two overarching issues: What would a sustainable model of funding look like; and how should that funding be made available to artists? See full details. Closing date – 12th April 2019.
This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise, based in Glasgow, whose mission is to promote fullness of life and reduce loneliness and isolation through friendship and companionship. The No.1 Be-friending Agency, set up in 2016 and part of Firstport’s LaunchMe Accelerator Programme, works mostly in Glasgow although, at times, is able to provide its services in other parts of Scotland. They currently offer three core services – revolving around Befriending; Supported Living; and Live in Care. They provide these services, in the main, to the elderly, people with physical disabilities and people with learning disabilities. The No.1 Be-friending Agency is also an active member of both the Glasgow and Health SENs.