Dear members and friends,
I’ve never met Kezia Dugdale – don’t expect to; but her resignation – her reported disaffection with the whole Scottish political ‘circus’, invites comment. An official website says her mum and dad were teachers; that she attended Aberdeen and Edinburgh yoonies; did the usual political researcher stuff. When she emerged as party leader in 2014, I phoned a couple of friends – still in the Labour loop; told she was a bright and popular newcomer – but very little ‘grounding’ so ideologically flimsy; untainted but untried.
I’m never comfortable watching the proceedings of our parliament on TV – the general standard of MSPs is not impressive. Their established ‘normal’ tone of debate is, to my mind, unnecessarily hostile, acrimonious and hurtful; they can’t realise how much of a ‘scunner’ their casual malice is to most ordinary folk. Dugdale made the wrong call on Corbyn’s Leadership – but so did nearly everyone – that wasn’t grounds for her departure. I think she found the whole gig so unpleasant – didn’t want to be there anymore.
The bruising world of Scottish politics supports a level of cynicism, corrosive to any sensitive human soul; Dugdale has been wise enough to recognise that this is not ‘normal’ behaviour – has escaped to reclaim her life. I wonder if, in due course, this exceptional leader will resurface in civil society as a social entrepreneur – new exciting adventures. Not sure what it says about the Scots – that we conduct our politics so venomously; except that many consider common courtesy the measure of how ‘civilised’ any society is.
I watched Nicola Sturgeon deliver her govt’s new programme on Tuesday; it wasn’t: ‘the most ambitious legislative plan ever’ (silly overstatements!) – but there were several exciting inclusions – and overall, more ‘direction’ emerges. Senscot functions in civil society; hundreds of thousands of citizens – thousands of groups and campaigns – working to improve some aspect of Scottish life. The majority of measures identified in Tuesdays speech, originated in this kind of voluntary action; there is growing synergy between the concerns of citizens and govt (letter to common weal supporters). In Scotland, the Tories will be damaged by the worsening Brexit debacle; Labour are back fighting themselves. The SNP has a window of opportunity to recapture some lost authority.
A headline article in the current Economist declares: ‘The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil but data’ – recognising that ‘platform’ companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon are the new masters of the economy. Great piece by Nick Srnicek in the Guardian – arguing that these monopoly platforms, hoovering up our data, present a looming crisis; that, in the public interest, we need to take back control of the internet and our digital infrastructure – instead of allowing them to be run in pursuit of profit and power. We may not yet be on the cusp of public ownership – but the pushback against the giant monopolies is underway.
Through his Fox News – Rupert Murdoch plays a major role in polluting public conversation in the US – stirring division and hatred; his company, 21st Century Fox, is still trying to achieve 100% control of Sky – which would enable the Foxification of Sky News; in the next couple of weeks critical decisions will be made by the Culture Secretary Karen Bradley and regulator Ofcom. Ed Miliband had a short piece in Saturday’s Guardian, reminding us that – along with Ken Clark, Vince Cable and Lord Falconer – he had made a detailed submission to Ofcom – challenging that Murdoch is ‘fit and proper’ to be granted enhanced influence in the UK Media.
Monday Sept 4th was Labour Day; President Jimmy Carter always recognised, that every social advance since the war: working conditions, social security, healthcare, education etc – came through the support and leadership of organised Labour – the Union movement. Aditya Chakrabortty’s Guardian piece, about the first ever UK strike by McDonalds workers – is a moving account of the ruthless exploitation of workers with no organised resistance. Humbled to admit that I was unaware of the heroic story of the Bryant and May ‘match women’ of 1882 – who stood up to and defeated one of Britain’s largest and most ruthless firms.
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See http://www.senscot.net/jobsevents.php this week:
JOBS: WHALE Arts, Balerno Village Trust, Gairloch and Loch Ewe Action Forum, Glasgow Homelessness Network
EVENTS: Pre-start Leadership (East Lothian), 15 Sep; Wine Tasting Evening, 15 Sep; Thai Cook & Dine Evening, 28 Sep; Leading Growth for Senior Leaders, 05 Oct
TENDERS: Provision of Family Support Workers – West Lothian Council, Hospital to Home Service – NHS Lanarkshire, SMART Litter Bins – Stirling Council, HR: Assessment Centres – Scottish Government and more. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.
The SENs Weekly Update: Date for the Diary: Our SE Conference takes place this year at the Westerwood Hotel, near Cumbernauld – on the 7th/8th December 2017. Like last year, the event will be run in partnership with Social Firms Scotland and Community Enterprise; with support from Scottish Community Alliance. We are currently developing the programme but the general theme will be around ‘Collaboration’. In light of the 2017 SE Census (see below), there is even greater importance in exploring how social and community enterprises can work better and more effectively together. Some of the items on the agenda will include: future development of SENs; a support programme for community-based enterprises; a new sector-led community loan fund; a focus on specific thematic activity – as well as a revamped Dragons’ Den. Booking forms available next week.
The SE Census 2017 was launched this week at the CEIS Conference in Glasgow by Cabinet Secretary, Angela Constance. The new Census follows the inaugural SE Census back in 2015 – and will be re-visited regularly during the life of our current 10-year SE Strategy. It is another excellent piece of work from the team at Social Value Lab – even more forensic than last time! Everyone can take their pick from the stack of stats available and the comparisons with 2015. The picture painted – if you exclude Housing Assocs. and Credit Unions – is a sector that remains overwhelmingly made up of small, community-based organisations – just about washing their faces – but providing vital services to local communities. The challenge for the SE Action Plan is to ensure that this is where the bulk of support remains targeted over the years ahead.
Following a recent meeting with Susan Aitken, Leader of Glasgow City Council (GCC), and members of the GCC Inclusive Growth Team, GSEN is delighted to announce a joint commitment to the development of a collaborative locally-driven SE Strategy for Glasgow. The Strategy will encompass a range of themes with GSEN and GCC working together to lead on this piece of work which will include undertaking a consultative exercise with members, the wider SE community and stakeholders to ensure the Strategy is developed from a solid foundation of evidence and research. GSEN has a membership of over 140 SEs and it is encouraging – and only natural – that the Council is acknowledging it as the main conduit for social enterprise in the city.
Another of the measures in the govt’s programme to emerge from civil society is the Citizens Wage or Universal Basic Income (UBI). Artificial Intelligence and automation will continue to replace present employment; Senscot has been arguing for some time – that we need to be researching the concept and feasibility of paying all citizens an unconditional income – enough to live on. The govt. has now said that it will work with interested local authorities to establish and monitor UBI pilots. This opens the possibility of Scotland becoming a world leader in the design of these mechanisms – which will gradually become normative around the world.
This week’s bulletin profiles a new social enterprise, based in Govan, that is focusing on supporting growing families with children aged 3-12, developing creativity and encouraging re-use and recycle. Make Do & Grow CIClooks to encourage creative development through structured classes and free play sessions, using predominantly recyclable materials. They also offer affordable, quality pre-loved and upcycled clothing and toys. As a community-based organisation, all profits are directed towards facilitating even more free and affordable creative sessions, reducing waste and projects supporting the local community. Their work is based around three core criteria: Enabling Creativity, Building Family and Community and Reducing Waste.
Viktor Frankl (1905-1997) was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor; his most influential book was ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ – from which there are more than 800 quotes online.
“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.”
That’s all for this week.
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Senscot is a Company, registered in Scotland. Company Reg No. 278156: Scottish Charity No. SC 029210