Senscot Bulletin: 31.08.12

Dear members and friends,

 I believe, as a universal law – that whoever centralises power – will use it for their own advantage rather than the common good.  For this reason – if I believe in anything – I believe in the dispersal of power – tiers of autonomy throughout society.  I would welcome full fiscal autonomy for Scotland; my main passion, however, is the missing tier of democracy at intermediate level – above family and neighbourhood – but well below ‘the state’; I have been campaigning for 36 years.
 We like to think of the UK as an ‘advanced’ democracy – yet most citizens have scant respect for politicians; consider them self seeking and dull.  But cynicism is comfortably accommodated; dissenters are told to stand for political office – to prostrate themselves to one of the political parties.  Our democratic system, they are told, does not allow for politics outside itself.  In this sense – you could say that our system is totalitarian – a closed shop.
 This is evident just now in Scotland – in the way the unionist parties are trying to intimidate civil society groupings; for saying what everyone knows – that most folk want a third question on the referendum ballot.  But I think that their tactics – their concern to close down debate – will rebound on ‘the elected’.  If I understand my fellow Scots – if they’re like me – they’ll vote ‘yes’ precisely because ‘the system’ denied them free choice.  Can’t decide if ‘our Eck’ had this all worked out?  He’s no’ that clever – is he? 

For some readers, this bulletin is too negative about the corporate sector – its values and practices.  These are personal prejudices – which stem from my respect for the ethos of the third sector – its role in society; my fear is that, through ‘marketisation’, its essence could be lost.  Senscot’s social investment discussion paper last week (see, argues that certain human and civil functions should be protected from the market – that many third sector activities should not be ‘for sale’.  David Floyd, who pens one of the best English SE blogs, posted a thoughtful response to our paper; he likes some bits – but others he calls ‘po-faced moralising’.  Here’s his piece – and our exchange of emails.

The present world economic system allows a few people to seize much of the wealth generated by everyone; the challenge is to install a fairer political and economic order that redistributes wealth – and the decision about how it should be spent.  Here George Monbiot speculates about social democracy ‘after capitalism’; hundreds of online comments. See,

If you want to glimpse the ‘fankle’ the ‘London Village’ has got itself into over social investment – skim this blog by a member of the Big Society Capital advisory group.  Can anyone still believe this nonsense? See,

I followed with trepidation the progress of Hurricane Isaac on the US Gulf Coast this week; Louisiana seems to have caught the worst of it. Good article in the New York Times – concludes that it’s mostly the density and strength of social networks (social capital) which determines the resilience of communities in natural disasters. See,

This bulletin is not sufficiently attentive of the work in Scotland of human rights activists and practitioners.  Glasgow Human Rights Network – which offers leadership – is holding a meeting on 13th September – 3pm; its entitled ‘Human Right in an Independent Scotland.  There is talk, at Westminster, of replacing the European Convention of Human Rights – with a UK Bill of Rights.  How would this play out in Scotland? See,

Conventional banks are notoriously dismissive of people on lower incomes; around 3 million UK citizens pay more for everything – because they either have no bank account – or one that is not fit for purpose.  ‘Move your money’ has teamed up with a social enterprise – to offer alternative current accounts – with a full range of services – to people excluded by the big banks.  Available later this year – it will be called the ‘Change Account’.  See,

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  This week:
JOBS: Beith Community Development Officer, GREAT Gardens Manager, CVO East Ayrshire Ltd, Community Enterprise, The Patients’ Advocacy Service, The Lodging House Mission, Encompass, Lifelink
EVENTS: Social Enterprise conference – East Lothian, 4 Sep; SROI Practitioner Training – 2 Day Course, 18 Sep; Stand & Deliver – Together! 20 Sep; Seminar: Children Missing from Care, 2 Oct
TENDERS: This week’s tenders include Construction & Sub Contract Work in Glasgow, Aids for Daily Living, Evaluation of SNH conservation & and management advisory programme and Recycling Points Provision of Service in East Renfrewshire. For more details, see

NETWORKS 1st: Kim writes: Bookings are coming in for his year’s Social Enterprise Conference and Ceilidh at New Lanark. As we said last week, to begin with, we’re putting a limit of 4 places per SEN. We’re keen for as many as the 20 SENs as possible to be represented. Also 20 places are being reserved for intermediaries and other ‘regulars’. We’ve begun looking at the programme. The usual favourites (The Big Questions, Dragons’ Den) will remain in place but we’re planning to replace the ‘Mystery Breakfast’ session on the Friday morning with a ‘Senscot and the Networks’ session. We’ll have more next week. To book your places, see  For more Networks News, see

Date for the diary: The Senscot Seminar and AGM will be held on Friday 5th October at City Halls, Candleriggs, Glasgow (10.30 – 2.30pm). Topic of this year’s Seminar will be ‘A Scottish Community Bank’. The event is free to full company members (individuals) with £20 charge for all others (i.e Associates, non-members etc). To reserve your place, see

CEiS’s Conference on Tuesday, 5th Sept is officially sold out. However, we still have a couple of ‘early bird’ places still available – cost £95 + VAT. If you’re interested, contact . See programme,

Some organisations may be ‘scunnered’ with European funding – had fingers burned. However, the next round of EU funding is looming – 2014-2020. SCVO hosted a conference in Edinburgh this week looking at the Community-led Local Development model that the EU is adopting. This approach looks to actively involve local communities and organisations in the design and delivery of the programme. Another priority is to promote social enterprise. See, . Scotland is likely to get £500m, with Scottish Govt intending to have its priorities finalised by Jan 2013. From the attendees list, it appears our SE and Community Sectors are a bit off the pace on this. See,

Almost seven years ago, Claire Carpenter received a Scotland unLtd award to help her create a social innovation centre in Edinburgh. Claire’s venture, The Melting Pot, celebrate its 5th anniversary next month. To mark the occasion, they are holding a ‘Tree Day Out’ on Sunday 1st Oct. If you’d like to join them, see

This week’s bulletin profiles a new social enterprise launched by Moray and Sport SEN member, Outf!t Moray. The Bike Revolution is set up to give old bikes a new lease of life. Bike Revolution welcomes donations of bikes and spares which it will rebuild and resell – at affordable prices. As well as increasing skills and confidence via bike maintenance courses, they also want to raise awareness of local cycling routes and facilities to promote cycling for leisure and commuting. Their next ‘sale’ takes place this Saturday, 1st Sept at 15, Shore Street, Lossiemouth. See,

Prof Paul Salveson of the Hannah Mitchell Foundation – Guardian 28th August 2012.
 "In 1908 Philip Snowden, future chancellor, stood on the steps of Huddersfield station before a huge crowd, demanding nationalisation of the railways. All of his arguments – profiteering, fragmentation, poor service and high fares – are just as relevant now, with the added point that the taxpayer is paying vast sums to support this "insane" system, as Richard Branson describes it. Snowden had a vision of our railways being run by what we would now call a "social enterprise" which has a wider social remit than shareholder profit. We need a single, socially owned InterCity network dovetailing with regional not-for-profit train and bus operators."

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