Senscot Bulletin: 31.07.15

 Dear members and friends,


Instead of expecting capitalism to be abolished by revolution – Paul Mason argues, in his new book Postcapitalism, that it is already being replaced – almost unnoticed, by whole swaths of economic life ‘which move to a different rhythm’. He writes of a world familiar to most of our readers – which lives in the niches and hollows of the market system: community groups, cooperatives, social enterprises – exploring imaginative new ways of sharing, caring, getting by.  To mainstream economists – much of this informal social economy is irrelevant – but Mason argues that this is a new way of living – in process of formation.


            When in 1999 – a group of friends founded Senscot – it wasn’t with the conscious determination to create a ‘post capitalist’ organisation – but we shared much of the thinking which Mason develops. We understood that networks sharing information – would come to replace hierarchies hoarding it; that a shared human concern for the common good – would drive a dynamic social enterprise movement.


            Are we evolving beyond capitalism – my instinct says not – but there are certainly thousands of enterprises in Scotland which have more to do with generosity than the market economy. Info-capitalism has created millions of networked people – one click away from the whole of human intelligence; these educated and connected millions amount to an unknown quantity in history. Within the space of 50 years – contraception made the average working class woman freer than the wildest libertine of the Bloomsbury era. Why do we find it so hard to imagine economic freedom.


Watched a TV hustings  for leadership of the Scottish Labour Party – sad – felt sorry for them both; the prospect of a credible opposition to the SNP next year is receding. But in England, Labour’s leadership contest has burst into life with the arrival of Jeremy Corbyn – the 66 year old left winger with beliefs and a beard and a Lenin cap. Who would have imagined! Iain MacWhirter in the Sunday Herald sees real parallels between the rise of Corbyn and the SNP landslide in Scotland. Maybe social democrat policies can still be popular; maybe all voters don’t hate immigrants and benefit claimants. Harold Wilson said “the Labour party is a moral crusade or it’s nothing.” Right now it’s fast becoming nothing. Maybe the boldness of the Scottish electorate – Nicola Sturgeon’s smeddum – has inspired Labour party members to rebel.

Michael Portillo’s Great British Railway Journeys on TV just won’t go away – and I’m part of the reason – part of his faithful following. It’s exciting for us train enthusiasts that we are only a few weeks away (Sept. 6) from the reopening of the borders railway – from Edinburgh to Tweedbank. 87 year old Madge Elliot – who has campaigned for this line since the 1960’s – was an honoured passenger this week during driver training. This video compresses the 1 hour journey into 2 ½ minutes.

Over recent years there has been a concerted effort by bankers to persuade the third sector to take on debt; this campaign was greatly encouraged by the UK Govt. both New Labour and Tory; Gordon Brown’s Big Society Capital was a major push. But the bankers misread and overhyped the market – the new ‘asset class’ didn’t materialise – complicated products like SIBs failed to attract investment. Triodos are currently inviting investment in Glasgow in a £2m SIB – 5 years at 4%; this will be loaned to Glasgow Together CIC to employ 50 ex-offenders to build social housing. Opinions differ in the third sector on whether social interventions should be financed from investments seeking financial return – potential conflicts of interest?

The emergence of post capitalism will depend  on the spread of independent online journalism; an excellent example is The Ferret – which broke the story this week of proposed coal gasification under the Forth – and the fankle which the SNP administration have got themselves into.


Enjoyed this piece in the Guardian by Neal Lawson of Compass – explaining for dummies like me – the basic factions within the Labour Party. His main point is about the role of what was known as the ‘soft left’ – mediating the hostilities between ‘hard left’ and ‘right wing’ factions. But New Labour had no use for ‘moderates’ – holding the tension between ideology and pragmatism – squeezed them out; the present absence of a middle ground within the party makes a split more likely.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Show Racism the Red Card; Scottish Youth Parliament; The Church of Scotland; Dundee East Community Sports Club; Trellis; Bairdwatson Charitable Trust: Airdrie Savings Bank:
EVENTS: Portobello Market, 1 Aug; Hands Up for Enterprise, 28 Aug; DTA Scotland Annual Conference & AGM, 31 Aug; Social Enterprise Work and Wellbeing Conference and Exhibition, 24 Sept;
TENDERS: Research Consultancy (PDF) – Total Homes, Term Contract for Portable Appliance Testing – Falkirk Council, Schools Digital Project – National Galleries Scotland, Independent Advocacy For Adults With A Learning Difficulty – West Lothian Council; and more. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.


The SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: Senscot is a member of the Scottish Community Alliance – a network of networks leading the campaign for a strong and independent community sector in Scotland. The 18 SCA network members engage with over 2000 community groups/organisations/enterprises – spread across the length and breadth of Scotland. This week’s quarterly SCA gathering included discussion on the Land Reform Bill; Localising Scotland’s Food System; and U Lab – a global programme run by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology designed to stimulate and facilitate change. Scottish Govt is tailoring  U Lab in Scotland with a programme starting online in October that will run online and well as through local ‘Hubs’. A preparatory event in being held in September – including info’ on how the ‘Hubs’ will be developed. Senscot has signed up to attending. See more.   


The second EU Masterclass Seminar is taking place this morning (Friday) in Aberdeen – over 30 attendees. These seminars will share some core information before much of the EU programmes are “open for business”. This will include a level of detail about various ‘strategic packages’ which are important as: a) this is how ESF and ERDF Programmes will be delivered; and b) potential applications will need to fit into these packages to secure funding. Next session is in Inverness on 12th August – then Edinburgh on 21st August – click on the links to book. In the meantime, see most recent update. We expect over 150 people (over 100organisations) will have participated in all four seminars. Further seminars will be considered.


Last month, Scottish Govt launched a national discussion, ‘Creating a Fairer Scotland’ – asking people to make their own contribution on how Scotland can be a fairer and more equal place to live. Any individual participate as well as third sector organisations; the public sector, local authorities, large and small businesses, trade unions etc – setting out their vision of a fairer Scotland and to suggest practical solutions, based on local and personal experience. As well as a series of events taking place over the coming months, an online space has been created where folk can blog (some familiar names) their own views and opinions.   


Something a bit different. Scotland’s second SE pub opens in Edinburgh next week. Are there only two?


One of the main events in the community/social enterprise calendar is looming up. On 30th/31st August,  DTA Scotland hosts its Annual Conference and AGM at the Kingsmills Hotel in Inverness. This year’s theme is ‘Assets, Enterprise and Creativity`. Spaces filling up fast so, if you want to sign up, see bookings.


This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise that operates as a conference & holiday centre and community venue offering a warm, friendly and affordable service near Pitlochry. The Atholl Centre is a well-equipped venue for education, training & networking and an accessible home from home for guests of all ages, able-bodied, disabled or disadvantaged. While faith-based, the Atholl Centre’s facilities are open to all and, as well as being set in beautiful scenery, they offer outdoors activities, history, theatre, art & music, good food and include a range of activities for children. The Atholl Centre is one of the founding members of the new Perthshire SEN.


Some writers seem to speak to us directly, to know who we are – so we read all their books, to learn about ourselves; such for me was Graham Greene; here are a couple of quotes:

"Our heroes are simple: they are brave, they tell the truth, they are good swordsmen and they are never in the long run really defeated. That is why no later books satisfy us like those which were read to us in childhood – for those promised a world of great simplicity of which we knew the rules, but the later books are complicated and contradictory with experience; they are formed out of our own disappointing memories." 
And then this:


"If you have abandoned one faith, do not abandon all faith. There is always an alternative to the faith we lose. Or is it the same faith under another mask".


That’s all for this week.
Best wishes,




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