Senscot Bulletin No 546, Friday 8th October 2010

Dear members and friends,

 Because I believe Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation (NC) is a malign force – I won’t subscribe to Sky TV – so I followed the Ryder Cup on BBC Radio.  Some sporting events are iconic – belong to everyone – should be exempt from commercial exploitation; but if NC’s dominance of sport is annoying – its meddling in politics is sinister.  Without journalistic integrity, they will go after and destroy politicians who oppose them.  One thinks of Marlon Brando’s Godfather – "and then they will fear you".
 In March 1994 – when the writer Dennis Potter knew he was dying of cancer – he did a brave TV interview with Melvin Bragg; he was sipping liquid morphine for pain and died that June.  He told us, smiling, that he’d named his tumour Rupert (after Murdoch) – claimed that no one person was more responsible for the pollution of the British press and public life – said he’d like to ‘shoot the bu**er’.
 For me, it’s not so much about demonising an individual – Murdoch is a caricature – created by a dominant political philosophy which values individual wealth and power above the common good – that’s the real enemy.  It’s unlikely that News Corp has yet achieved the political influence in the UK, that it has in the USA with Fox news etc – but if the stories are true – that it’s agents are already close to David Cameron – then citizens beware!  These people are clever and ruthless – with no regard for democracy.  The quickest way to send them a message is to cancel your Sky subscription.

Wherever communities around Scotland have successfully taken responsibility for their own futures – there will be found a locally owned ‘anchor’ organisation – with the confidence and skills to provide leadership. These organisations mostly have sustainable income from their own assets – so that they can, when necessary, dispute with the Council and still operate; without such independence – so called empowerment is tokenistic. The Scottish Govt/Cosla concept of empowerment is for the community to have a more effective ‘voice’ – not the capacity to act independently. Local ownership of renewable energy production offers a ‘never before’ opportunity for communities to get serious – a new generation of high level community development trusts. It was most encouraging to hear Richard Lochead speak last week about the Govt’s commitment to assist this process. See here,

In a fringe meeting at the Tory conference, Cabinet Office Minister, Francis Maude said that there is going to be less funding for intermediaries and umbrella groups – that the limited funds available will go to the frontline. Scottish Govt is hinting at much the same thing – too many intermediaries – Govt money will be linked to outcomes rather than particular groups/orgs. Across the UK, there is going to be a major shake up of our world. In Scotland, we’ve also got a May election – expect a year of uncertainty – but that’s’ hardly new, is it? See,

Many thanks to those of you who attended our AGM last Friday – a friendly gathering – good grub – and EVH have created a great new meeting space. Christine Carlin – head of the Govt’s Third Sector Division – gave valuable pointers to the way our sector is heading (next Friday we’ll circulate the main points of her speech).  Then I made my usual slightly grandiose closing remarks.

There was chat at our AGM about the fact that Stephen Maxwell (recently retired from SCVO) has resurfaced as chair of SURF (replacing Ian Wall). I have never made a secret of my regard for Stephen as the Scottish sector’s foremost commentator on social policy. Let’s hope he intends to do a regular column.
One of my favourite books is the Tao Ti Ching. So I was fascinated to find an essay on the web called the ‘Tao of Social Enterprise’. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea – but the more ‘spiritual’ of our readers will enjoy, as I certainly did.

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See . This week: 
JOBS: Ecole Ecole Enterprise, SKS Scotland CIC, The Glendale Trust, FAIR Limited, The Scottish Fair Trade Forum, Gift Street Fundraisers (Glasgow & Edinburgh), Comas, The Preshal Trust
EVENTS: The Art of Conversation, 8 Oct; Hatches, Matches and Dispatches, 19 Oct; Scotland’s National Community Energy Conference, 26 Oct; Good Deals 2010: The UK Social Investment Conference, 16 Nov
TENDERS: Historic Scotland, Glen Oaks Housing Association, Stirling Council, Orkney Islands Council, Highland Council, Dumfries and Galloway Council, Reactive Maintenance Service, Fife Council

NETWORKS 1st:  With the Third Sector Action Plan 2008-11 coming to an end in March, there’s been a lot of talk about what the next Action Plan will hold. What we do know is that Scottish Govt will be advertising 3 contracts over the coming weeks. These will be for Business Support; Opening Public Sector Markets; and Direct Funding. Our understanding is that the Govt is looking for consortium bids to be in for January 2011. Here’s a breakdown of the outcomes the Govt is looking for in each contract.
For more Networks News, see

This year’s Ceilidh is taking place on 18th/19th November at our usual venue in New Lanark. Bookings are already well ahead of schedule and we’ll have the programme finalised over the next week or so – with a couple of exciting new features! The Dragon’s Den will again be offering a £5k prize to the winner. As well as the usual support from RBS, we’re also delighted to confirm contributions from Unity Enterprise and Employers for Childcare to the Dragon’s Den pot. We’re also proposing to ‘beef up’ the ‘audience’ prize – more on this next week. To book your place, see

Our Coalition (SSEC) is carrying out a survey, in partnership with Queen Margaret University, on the economic contribution social enterprises make to Scotland’s Food & Drink Industry. If you’ve got the time, fill it in and automatically enter their prize draw – Two nights at 6 Mary’s Place, Edinburgh. Closing date is Friday 15th October. See,

The RBS SE100 index is about gathering facts and figures about social enterprises, charting both growth and social impact. This month they are looking specifically at enterprises in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Last year, the likes of CFINE, Impact Arts and Social Enterprise flew the flag for Scotland. Here’s the latest update,

"Without getting into any discussion of the use of the social enterprise mark, it is clear that the social enterprise sector risks being tarnished by those who incorrectly describe themselves as social enterprises when they clearly are not, and also by those who deviate from their original social enterprise purpose."  Short interesting piece by solicitor Catherine Rustomji about the need for definitions – to keep out the chancers.

This week’s bulletin profiles a Glasgow-based social enterprise set up to reduce the amount of timber entering landfill. Sustainable Wood Solutions CIC, set up in 2009 with the support of Scotland UnLtd, receive waste timber from local authorities, tree surgeons and landscapers which they convert in to high quality products. In addition, they work with schools and community groups to raise awareness of recycling. More recently, they have been involved, with partners, in developing new projects that create employment as well as providing education about renewable energy. See more,

A theme throughout my life has been the weighing of the consolations of companionship with those of solitude.  This is how the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer described humanity’s uneasy balancing act between being together and being apart.
 "On a cold winter’s day, a group of porcupines huddled together to stay warm and keep from freezing.  But, soon, they felt one another’s quills and moved apart.  When the need for warmth brought them closer together again, their quills again forced them apart.  They were driven back and forth at the mercy of their discomforts until they found the distance from one another that provided both a maximum of warmth and a minimum of pain".

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

Best wishes,


Subscribe to this bulletin:

To unsubscribe or change subscription address/ e-mail