Category Archives: News

Domino’s apologises for TV ad depicting ‘Inuit’

This investigation contains words, images and videos which may be offensive to some readers1
"Winter Survival"

Screen grab of TV advert for Domino’s Winter Survival Deal depicting “Inuit” admiring a white family eating pizza. Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence

  • Banks RBS and Clydesdale and car rental firm Enterprise use children in headdresses for ads
  • Strathclyde Pension Fund investigates share holdings in oil developments opposed by Indigenous groups after questions raised by Tomorrow
  • Government agency Education Scotland celebrates claiming of Canadian land and Scots who founded more than a century of genocidal policies
  • Catalogue giant Argos and Exeter Chiefs rugby team also examined in exclusive Tomorrow investigation

Food giant Domino’s has apologised for causing any offence with a “light-hearted” TV ad depicting Inuit licking their lips as they watch a white family eat pizza.

The commercial is one of several examples in the United Kingdom where Indigenous culture is used to sell products or services.

A lengthy investigation by Tomorrow examined adverts from major banks, items sold at small markets or through catalogue stores, and government-promoted education about colonialism.

And questions from this probe have led to one of the UK’s biggest public pension funds to investigate more than $3 million invested through mutual holdings towards a firm connected to the Standing Rock fight in North Dakota.


For sale: Making a killing from Britain's colonial crimes - Part 1

Banks RBS and Clydesdale and car rental firm Enterprise all use children dressed with feathered headdresses while an upmarket home furnishing company has a luxury brand of “teepee wallpaper”.

While Washington DC’s American football team has had its trademark revoked for being racist, the team won new approval for the UK and across Europe.

And rugby team the Exeter Chiefs have seen their annual turnover increase from more than £19,000 to more than £13 million since changing their name to make use of Indigenous imagery.

Indigenous peoples on both sides of the Atlantic interviewed by Tomorrow agreed Britons should educate themselves but would find it easy to buy the products and services on offer without accepting the modern reality as a direct result of colonialism.

"Red Indians" for sale

Figurines on sale at the German Christmas Market in 2015 in Glasgow, UK. Similar figures are on sale in 2016. Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence

Artist Shelley Niro told Tomorrow: “It is about ownership and possessiveness and making it okay to play with kind of imagery. In the end, it’s really racism.”

Author and activist Brandon Pardy said Inuit might eat traditional food, but also eat Domino’s, tacos and oranges.

“It’s fine if someone makes fun of themselves, but Inuit aren’t in deerskins only having hard winters sitting around chewing the fat – that’s not all we are,” he said. “And if you lock us in history like that, then it diminishes the fact that we have doctors and lawyers and somebody that’s just finished open heart surgery on you might be Inuk and they might want to go home and eat some Domino’s because they’ve had a really hard day.”

Domino’s did not answer questions about who made their “Winter Survival Deal”, which was cleared by the Advertising Standards Authority as “factual”. They also would not answer suggestions by Mr Pardy or even accusations under the video on YouTube that the actors are not actually Inuit.

Louise Butler, brand and digital communications manager, said in an email statement: “Our winter advert intended to be light-hearted in humour and so we would like to apologise if this has caused any unintentional offence.

“We undertake substantial advance consumer research and go through a strict regulatory approval process for all our adverts and at no point was this raised as a concern. Domino’s will also be using a fresh creative for its adverts this winter onwards.”

In almost all examples examined by Tomorrow, children are the target for the products or are used in commercials “playing”.

Activist and author of Indigenous Writes, Chelsea Vowel, said: “At this point what I have to do now is convince people that we’re human, that we’re worthy of respect,” she said. “And that’s always a weak position when you have to convince other people of your humanity. And that’s what we’re often forced to do, and I really resent that.

“Why should British people care? Well, they don’t have to care because they have all the power to not care.”

“You can’t just take the fun bits and leave out the all the awful things that happened because those awful things that happened are still having an impact on our health and our education, our access to water, our access to human rights.”

[Tweet “”What I have to do now is convince people that we’re human, that we’re worthy of respect””]

Strathclyde Pension Fund, which is involved in funds with shares in major US pipelines opposed by Indigenous peoples, told Tomorrow: “These particular stocks are not direct investments by the fund, but are held passively through an index tracking portfolio – which does limit the influence the fund has, in comparison to direct investments.

“However, the fund notes the concerns raised and is currently seeking further information from the portfolio manager and its responsible investment advisors.”

As well as headdresses, figurines and t-shirts depicting Indigenous peoples easily found on sale, Indigenous peoples are also mocked in education and training settings or the colonial claiming of the land celebrated.

Scotland’s education department website promotes the wealth of places within Canadian borders named by or for Scotland. A group of teachers in Exeter celebrate their rugby team, the Chiefs, with a drum chant, mirroring that for the Atlanta Braves, long derided by campaigners in the US.

And far-right and anti-immigrant political groups in the UK and Europe continue to make use of Indigenous history to manipulate their own arguments for racial purity across the continent – something with a long history in propaganda and popular entertainment, particularly in Germany.

“I hate that we have these images that are just a complete joke,” said youth activist RJ Jones. “People are not taking us seriously because of these images. Or they’ll take our images but they don’t want to take the suffering that comes with it.”


For sale: Making a killing from Britain's colonial crimes - Part 1

  1.  Tomorrow has chosen to use all words, team names, logos and items without restriction. This is not done casually but under our duty to educate, it is impossible to educate readers ignorant to what is offensive without clearly indicating what is considered offensive by others. Similarly, under our core principle to comfort the afflicted and afflict the complacent, if words, images or actions of the complacent are afflicting others, then that must be highlighted and challenged.

As Olympics begin, little progress on athlete funding or indigenous sport


Money…how much does sport need?

FUNDING for athletes continues to be cut in real terms as advocates campaign to make up the now 24 per cent gap.

The rate for the Athlete Assistance Program (AAP) has not changed in 12 years and the Government of Canada did not mention sport in its 2016 budget at all.1

Little progress has also been made on implementing the “calls to action” in the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission with the government claiming it is still examining the recommendations.

Even as Canada has sent elite athletes to the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, the 2014 Commonwealth Games, the 2015 Pan Am Games and Parapan American and now the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio, Brazil, the taxpayer-funded budget has not changed.

AthletesCan,2 the organisation for national team athletes, said they were currently fighting for an increase in cash to match the rise in consumer price index (CPI).

Ashley LaBrie, executive director of AthletesCan, confirmed by email: The rate has not been increased yet. We are still in the midst of a campaign to increase – we are recommending a 24 per cent increase to reflect the CPI increase since 2004. 

“We’re hoping that something will happen either fall or winter. We’re hopeful that the new government will agree this is a priority moving forward.”

Tomorrow has followed the static funding in 2013, 2014 and 2015 and only the elected government has changed significantly in Canada in that time.

Catherine Gagnaire, public relations manager with Canadian Heritage, the department which manages sport funding and policy, acknowledged there was no mention of sport in the 2016 budget.

“But it remains a priority for the Government of Canada,” she told Tomorrow by email, pointing to the $200 million annual funding through sport organisations and to athletes, including the AAP. Ms Gagnaire said $20 million was committed in match funding to private sector investment while $28 million goes to more than 1,900 athletes through the AAP.

She continued: “Ensuring that Canadian athletes have the support they need to continue to push for the podium today as well as in the future is an important focus for the Government of Canada.

“The program is currently reviewing the cost of living impact on carded athletes since last the stipend increase and will be consulting with sport community to seek further input into this matter.”

‘Exploring options’

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, delivered last year, considered the legacy of Canada’s residential school system abusing and killing indigenous children. It included wide-ranging recommendations, amongst them for indigenous sport.3

Tomorrow challenged the Government of Canada on these points, one year on from the first query and since the Liberal Party took power from the Conservative Party of Canada, but with little sign of progress.

In 2015, it stated they were “currently analyzing the recommendations”, evolving to “exploring options of how to more fully respond”.

See both statements side by side here.

Ms Gagnaire pointed to the ministerial mandate letters which includes a priority for indigenous relationships and recognition.

In May, the government announced $3 million for the Toronto 2017 North American Indigenous Games, she added.

How much funding do athletes need and how long should action on indigenous sport take?

  1. Download the full budget here.
  3. Sport is outlined on page 10 of the “Calls to Action”. The report and documents can be found at the TRC website.

We the people: Oklahoma Primaries, Super Tuesday

If politics is about people, who are the people politicians are fighting to represent?

Tomorrow sent reporters from the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication1 in the US state of Oklahoma to find the people while polls were open for “Super Tuesday”.

A total of 13 states and one territory held primaries on March 1 for the Democratic and Republican parties to choose their presidential candidates. As with We The People for the 2015 UK general election, we asked no political questions and did not confirm if citizens had voted in the primaries.

These are some of the people who make up America.

11.15am – John Teal (JT), in Norman, Oklahoma

JT lived an athletic life while growing up in Wichita Falls, Texas, before he moved to Norman. And that was when everything changed for him. 

From the time he was able to walk, he was involved in all different sports in Texas. His freshman year of high school, when he moved to Oklahoma, his athletic lifestyle took a turn for the worse until he found a direction in life he credits to a multi-national health and sports supplement firm, Herbalife.

“I just got involved with the wrong crowd, the people I was hanging out with,” he said. “Something I learned in Herbalife, but it’s really true now that I look back, is that you’re a product of the five people you spend the most time with. The people I got involved with were not good in school, not making good decisions in their life. I just got involved with that crowd and finally my junior year I realised that I didn’t want to be that. I wanted to get back into sports and get back into being more healthy.”

The 20-year-old now spends his time working at a nutrition shop and as a fitness coach to help people reach their goals of living a healthier lifestyle.

“Currently my day is usually very, very simple. I work as a personal wellness coach, meaning that really all I do all day is I try and find and continue helping people looking to lose weight or simply get into the best health and shape of their life.

“Every morning I get up at 4am and I’m in the gym by 5am and I do my workout and after I leave the gym I come straight here to Nubody.2 I am pretty much here working all day, helping clients, working the nutrition club, making shakes and teas, networking with people, and really trying to continue to build my independent business of helping people with their health and their goals.”

He thanks an old friend of his for introducing him to the supplements company in his sophomore year of college. JT ended up quitting his job and withdrew from school to work full-time for Herbalife. He said once he dedicated his life to them, he never looked back.

“Herbalife changed my entire life, it changed my way of thinking, it changed my actions throughout the day, it changed the way I interact with people and it has taught me so much about how to be a leader, how to be a better person, a better business owner, and it really just changed my entire moral and thought process.”

12.34pm – Michelle Gates

Michelle Gates worked in the healthcare field for more than two decades before she decided to act on the desire to start her own business in the culinary industry.

“I just reached burnout, so I did a career change,” said Michelle, who works at Hurts Donuts,3 in Norman.

Michelle worked in the radiology department for numerous hospitals, performing MRIs and CAT scans. She worked in the radiology business for 25 years before her work took a toll on her.

“Just the grind of it everyday,” she said. “Not everybody makes it. It takes a toll on you when you see sick people everyday and people that are hurt everyday and people that die everyday. It just takes a toll on you. Sometimes, it’s just time for a change.”

After working for so many years she still recalls the life changing moments she witnessed.

“The first time you see a child die you realise how precious life is. And that death doesn’t know an age,“ said Michelle.

[Tweet ““The first time you see a child die you realise how precious life is.””]When Michelle decided to make a career change she decided to pursue the idea of becoming a pastry chef. She turned her baking hobby into a “lifestyle”. 

“It is just something I have always done on the side,” she added.

Michelle is now pursuing a career in the culinary industry but is also working at the donut shop to pay the bills.

12.56pm – Tobin Vigil

Before Tobin Vigil can even remember, he has always had an interest in bicycles. Now at 42 years old he owns Buchanan Bicycles4 and has competed in competitions cycling between 50 and 100 miles in a single day. But all of his personal accomplishments aren’t the ones that fulfil him the most – it is other people’s accomplishments.

“I’ve seen it change a lot of peoples lives,” he said. “Actually a good friend of mine, who is a doctor, when he first came in here he was like 300 pounds. And now he is triathlete, ultra-marathon runner, and just a completely different person. It was really awesome to watch that transformation.

“For him, to completely change his lifestyle and he’s happier and healthier. We’ve done that over and over and over we have watched that happen many times over, and it’s really, really cool.” 

2.05pm – Brooke Charbonneau

Brooke Charbonneau

Brooke Charbonneau works in a postcard and stationary shop. Photo by Savannah Hurst.

Brooke Charbonneau graduated in December with a degree in environmental studies and is holding down two jobs as well being an independent contractor for the university and applying to posts with state governments.

The 22-year-old in Norman said she enjoys selling stationary and postcards – sometimes a lost art.

“There’s a lot of regulars that come in that are pretty extraordinary people,” she said.

“I think I prefer writing letters to people rather than texting them – I think it’s putting in extra time. Like texting takes two seconds but writing a letter and thinking about what you’re going to write takes a lot more time.

“Talking to people face to face or writing letters, for me, I think I would prefer that to a two-second email.”

She added: “I mean, honestly it’s really hard to pick a favourite card just because I think all of them are pretty funny and they are very individualised and very stylistic.”


4.30pm – Shay Awosiyan

At just the young age of 14, Shay Awosiyan, moved from Nigeria to Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, with his single mother.

Shay is a student at the University of Oklahoma (OU) and faces multiple obstacles each day that most students at OU don’t face.

“Americans’ ignorance – no offence to Americans – but they think if you don’t speak proper English they think you’re a dumb ass. That’s what Americans think, you don’t speak proper English then you are most likely not as smart as them. So they tell you to speak to you slower, they treat you differently. But it’s all good, it’s what Americans are,” said Shay.

He said he still deals with it everyday, but now he doesn’t let others’ comments get to him. After years of hearing criticism of his strong Nigerian accent, he decided to put it all behind him, move forward and shy away from the negativity.

“I got tired of defending myself and having to prove myself. So I think I decided to be me,” said Shay. 

Shay Awosiyan

Shay Awosiyan, 21, a student at Oklahoma University, moved from Nigeria to Broken Arrow in the state at the age of 14. Photo by Shea Smith.

He continues to be strong and work hard, but he admitted to dealing with hardship.

“America is not as dangerous [as Nigeria]. But mentally, America will drain you and break you down. Physically, I’m all good, but mentally it’s just … it’s not because I’m weak.”

[Tweet “”Mentally, America will drain you and break you down. Physically, I’m all good, but mentally it’s …””]After attending OU for almost four years, Shay is only a few months away from graduating and sees it as an accomplishment for his mother as much as himself.

Although Shay only met his father once, he doesn’t believe he would be any different if he would have had his father in his life. He credits his achievements to his mother and thanks her for playing both roles in his life. To him, “blood doesn’t mean you are family”.

He plans to continue living his life the way he has been, and accomplishing his number one goal: “Money is good, being rich, being famous is good. All this flashy stuff, driving a nice car, having a nice house, it’s all nice but when it comes down to it, it’s just make my mom proud. That’s all I want.”

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.


No relevant issues on principles 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8 or 10.

3. Independence and accountability: Firms mentioned as places of employment by interviewees are included as part of accuracy and completeness, but no financial incentive was passed to reporters or Tomorrow for this piece.
5. Comfort the afflicted and afflict the complacent: There have been repeated commentaries about why individuals are voting for particular candidates in the United States. The reporting and editorials did not ask who the people were or their stories. Tomorrow continues to argue that some reporters must continue to go in a different direction from the majority to challenge the complacency of media outlets, of politicians and of the public.
9. Observe and Engage: While this reporting is observational and without comment, reporters did engage with the public and remain happy to meet with readers digitally or in person to discuss coverage.
11. Promote responsible debate and mediation: What issues does this reporting raise? How should journalism – not commentary – respond to elections?

  1. Journalism school website.
  2. Facebook page for the Nubody Nutrition, in Norman.
  3. Facebook page for the outlet.
  4. Website for Buchanan Bicycles.

The trouble with non-prescription medicines

Non-prescription medicines

Research shows Britons misuse non-prescription medicines. Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence

One in five patients misuse non-prescription medicines and almost 40 per cent don’t always read instructions, new research has found.

In the first such survey of consumers, they admitted to knowing the potential risks of dependence on non-prescription medicines but not knowing where to turn if they had a problem.

And the researchers said some customers of the medicines in the United Kingdom might not realise they are misusing the products if they don’t get proper advice from pharmacists or read instructions themselves.

Commenting on the research, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society said abuse of such medicines was “worrying”.

With a growing push to treat lesser health issues outside of the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK, scientists wanted to survey the public, for the first time, about their misuse, abuse or dependence on easily available medicines.

Researchers at the University of Aberdeen sent questionnaires to 1,000 people around the UK on the edited electoral register, ranging in age from 18 to 92, asking them about medicine use.

Of the 43.4 per cent who replied, 19.3 per cent misused non-prescription medicines or NPMs at some point in their lifetimes, 4.1 per cent abused NPMs, and 2 per cent were dependent. Those who were younger or had a long-term condition requiring NPMs, or those who had used illegal drugs or legal highs, were more likely to report abuse or misuse.

Much of the previous research on this subject has focused on what pharmacists perceive as misuse or abuse by customers.1

Most of those surveyed (71.3 per cent) were aware of the potential to become dependent or addicted to NPMs, and one in 10 said they personally knew someone who had been dependent or addicted. Most often, they were analgesics, both with and without codeine, stop smoking products, sleep aids, cough and cold remedies and others.

Past estimates referred to in the study show there are 57 million GP consultations costing the NHS £2 billion a year each year for minor ailments, many of which could be addressed by pharmacies.

The study, published in the Journal of Public Health,2 said: “There is a drive to encourage and enable self-care in the UK through the use of NPMs for minor ailments. Pharmacy customers who make direct product requests by name are less likely to be questioned by pharmacy staff than customers/patients seeking advice regarding the management of conditions or symptoms.

“In our study, individuals who were or had been dependent were generally rarely or never questioned by pharmacy staff about their purchase. More active engagement may be needed by both pharmacy personnel and patients/customers during their consultations, particularly when requests are made for NPMs associated with misuse, abuse and dependence, to explore the need for referral to an appropriate source of support/treatment.

“Respondents’ acknowledgement of the potential for NPMs to lead to dependence was high and suggests that there is public awareness that NPMs are associated with risks. However, a considerable proportion of individuals do not always read the directions for use and therefore alternative, or additional, methods of providing important information on medicine risk should be considered.”

PhD student Niamh Fingleton,3 who led the study, said there was a risk with non-prescription medicines, but it depended on if the misuse was a one-off or frequent.

She said: “We have conducted interviews with the people who have been dependent and one of the problems they had, once they realised they had a problem they weren’t really sure what to do about it.

“They would mention that when you go into a pharmacy, there’s lots of leaflets about various health conditions, but they couldn’t see anything about ‘Are you dependent on over-the-counter medicines’ or what you could do about it.”

Ms Fingleton added: “I think there could be more public awareness amongst the general public, but I do think there’s more of a role that pharmacists could play.”

She pointed out customers could easily buy paracetamol or ibuprofen in shops where no pharmacists were on hand.

Sandra Gidley, of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society,4 said they welcomed the research.

In an email statement, she said: “Abuse of over-the-counter medicines is worrying and the RPS provides a variety of support to help pharmacists and their teams to identify and help patients experiencing addiction. 

“However, it is a challenging issue as some individuals who become addicted can hide their problem well, and the lack of access to shared patient health records means there’s no way of knowing who is buying what from which pharmacy.

“It’s important that the public are aware of the risks of abuse of over-the-counter medicines and if they are experiencing problems ask their pharmacist for advice.”

  1. Misuse is defined as using a medicine in an incorrect dosage or for longer than recommended. Abuse is to achieve a non-medical benefit, such as mind-altering effects or weight loss. And dependence or addiction is anyone struggling to stop or change the use of the medicines.
  2.  Niamh A. Fingleton, Margaret C. Watson, Eilidh M. Duncan, and Catriona Matheson, “Non-prescription medicine misuse, abuse and dependence: a cross-sectional survey of the UK general population“, J Public Health first published online February 2, 2016.
  3. Niamh Fingleton university profile page.
  4. RPS website.

‘Little girls playing’: Music industry’s gender bias


Is music universal or is the industry fair and professional to men only? Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.

Women in the music industry are thought of as “little girls playing” by male colleagues and performers, research has found.

Interviews with women in the management side of the sector have found their competence is perceived according to gender and they have to adapt their behaviour to be accepted by men.

Speaking at the recent Musicians’ Union (MU) conference in Glasgow, Scotland, researchers also highlighted women pioneers in sound engineering all but wiped out from history.

Union officials said progress had been made in the past decade, but admitted gender is still an issue that is not being addressed in the industry.

‘Hang on, where’s the big guy?’

Dr Marion Leonard, lecturer at the University of Liverpool’s school of music and author of the 2007 book “Gender in the Music Industry”1 said she interviewed 14 women in London and Brighton who worked in music management.

Previous surveys in the UK have found women represent just 20 per cent of management teams and 23 per cent of music promotion, explained Dr Leonard. Other sections of the industry have even fewer women.

In some cases, certain roles such as technical ones such as sound recording, have a “culturally understood fit with masculinity”. Some segregated posts carry prestige over others.

Men used shared leisure activities to re-enforce male workplace culture and women had to adjust their behaviour to fit in even while they were being treated differently.

One interviewee refused to learn to type simply so she would not be sidelined as someone’s assistant. Another did largely administrative duties while not being able to go on the road with touring work because she was “more naturally suited” to an office role. Excuses given included, “You’re not experienced enough”, or “Oh, they want a male tour manager” or “I don’t think it’s a sensible idea for you to go”.

One woman working in artist management said most expected the role to be for men and questioned her legitimacy.

She told Dr Leonard: “I just felt like a little girl playing, do you know what I mean? I was made to feel like, all the time, ‘Hey, hang on, where’s the big guy? Where’s the real manager?’”[Tweet “”I was made to feel like, ‘Hey, hang on, where’s the big guy?””]

Dr Leonard concluded: “Women professionals detailed how they frequently had to navigate, disrupt or work with assumptions about their competencies, status, their ambitions, which were then informed by gendered expectations by their colleagues.

“In interviews, women identified how they had to adapt their behaviour to be accepted within masculinist work environments, where they are judged by how effectively they could assimilate the existing culture while at the same time being assessed and treated different as women.

“To understand how gender inequalities persist in the music industries, it’s important to consider not just interpersonal dynamics but also the broader structure and work culture of the sector.

“Networking is important for finding work opportunities and for maintaining contacts. Socialising is part of the practice of work and so ‘fitting in’ is crucial.”

Interviewees in the research were quoted anonymously because they did not want to be seen to be speaking out about sexism and gender issues. They didn’t want to be viewed as “causing a stir”.

Dr Leonard continued: “Women can find it difficult to break into and establish themselves in male-dominated professional networks and this can be especially difficult with working in contexts where certain types of masculine or even sexist behaviour are the norm.

“While this research is qualitative and based on a small sample of respondents, it indicates that ideas about gender provide a foundation for inequality in the music industries as gender continues to structure the experience of work and impact on the opportunities afforded to individuals. Identifying how this happens and learning from the experience of music workers can hopefully help to inform and change future practice.”

‘This shit still happens’

At an earlier session at the conference, independent researchers Jane Dickson and Anneke Kampman highlighted the careers of Daphne Oram and Elaine Radique. Along with Delia Derbyshire, these composers and pioneers in electronic music have been largely written out of history. Derbyshire created the original Doctor Who theme music, which is recognised in credits for the show even today under the composer’s name, Ron Grainer.

Sheena Macdonald, regional organiser for Scotland and Northern Ireland with the MU,2 was in the audience for the conference and said there were fewer women in the music industry in general, and the union reflected that.

Of about 30,000 MU members in the UK and 2,200 in Scotland, only about 30 per cent are women. The top positions for the national executive of the union are all men, though the office staff in Scotland are all women. Only in the past decade has there been a chairwoman of the executive committee and an equalities officer, though no position addressing specific gender issues.

“When I’m dealing with my own members,” said Ms Macdonald, “nine times of dealing with issues it will be with a manager who’s a bloke or an agent who’s a bloke or a promoter who’s a bloke. Just in general terms, there’s less women inside the music industry at a more senior level than there is blokes.

“In general it is just seen as ‘that’s just the way it is’ and it’s not seen as an issue. For those of us working on the front line, I think we do see where there are differences and where there are issues specific to women, or might be more of an issue for women – for example, working late at night, issues around health and safety at work, issues in terms of employment – that are more gender specific.”

Ms Macdonald said the general public would be largely unaware of musician pay, conditions or the factors affecting women, including safety at gigs, an issue that has been increasingly in the spotlight.

She admitted he had never heard of Daphne Oram or Elaine Radique prior to the conference and recognised many of the comments from Dr Leonard’s research.

“I thought what was particularly interesting that in order to be those pioneers they had to have their own means to fit inside a little organisation or have employment somewhere where they could tinker about with those things – they had to be women of means,” Ms Macdonald told Tomorrow by phone after the conference.

“[Dr Leonard’s work] all rang really, really true from my experience of both being a woman working inside the music industry itself but also of our members’ experience.

“On the one hand it was heartening to know that this is an experience shared. But what was disheartening about it was, ‘bloody hell we’re in the 21st century and this shit still happens’.[Tweet “”Bloody hell we’re in the 21st century and this shit still happens””]

“And I think it certainly made me realise about really looking at some of the issues around gender and around women working in the music industry and looking at solutions at how that gets solved.

“It may be that things have moved on a bit, but about how we as women change attitudes so that we don’t encounter the kind of comments and issues that Marion highlighted in her research.”

– Information about the conference and research conducted through the University of Glasgow into the MU archives has been presented on a dedicated website.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.
  1. Dr Marion Leonard university profile page.
  2. Regional page for the MU.

Syrian refugees: Inside the arrivals gate

Why did Canada and Scotland take very different approaches to welcoming Syrian refugees?

Refugees, by Jason Skinner

Refugees, by artist in residence Jason Skinner. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.

Behind refugees arriving to new homes from war-torn Syria in recent weeks there have been radically different government positions and advice, Tomorrow has found.

The contrasting approaches were taken in Canada and Scotland to press access to the arrivals amidst massive public interest.

And while both nations referred to protecting “vulnerable” persons, they also have systems for applying refugee status or deporting individuals that are almost entirely hidden from public and media view.

The Scottish Government denied press access to the first arrivals of Syrian refugees in November as local councils who would be rehoming them urged privacy while they settled in. Refugees who found safety in Scotland a decade ago also advised against media interviews at the airport.

Just weeks later, Canada’s new government welcomed refugees with the prime minister at the airport and pictures and video broadcast around the globe. It played particularly well in the neighbouring United States in the midst of presidential candidate Donald Trump’s inflammatory statements against Muslims.

Press ‘made it difficult’

Humza Yousaf MSP, Scottish Government minister for Europe and international development, said there was “much talk” between their administration, local authorities, and the Home Office at the UK level about the best approach. Refugees themselves advised against press access.

“We have refugees who sit on our task force,” the minister told Tomorrow by phone,1 “and in amongst our conversations had a discussion with Congolese refugees who arrived here over a decade ago in Scotland. And they mentioned that the press around their arrival made it very difficult for them to settle in and they suggested to us that it would be better to shield the refugees from any kind of press intrusion upon arrival.

“So we took the advice of refugees first and foremost to come to that decision.

“Secondly, there could not have been, I think, a more tense time for refugees to arrive in Scotland and the UK than literally days after the Paris attack on the 13th, first arrival of the 17th of November. There couldn’t have been a more tense time.

“We thought because of all of those factors, the right approach would be for refugees to be protected.

“We always did this with the understanding, of course, and the knowledge, that there’s only so much that you can protect refugees from.

“I understand local newspapers in particular would be able to find out where refugees were and there was nothing stopping them from knocking their doors and we weren’t going to be too prohibitive. We couldn’t be too prohibitive, even if we wanted to be, and understanding that we shouldn’t be either. On the initial arrival we thought it was important to protect their identity.”

Pauline Diamond Salim, media officer at the Scottish Refugee Council,2 said they had no operational role in the arrival of refugees, but are part of the government’s task force on Syria and agreed with the approach.

“Over the last few months people have been moved by the hardships faced by refugees and in Scotland we have seen a wonderful increase in public goodwill towards people seeking refugee protection. Alongside this goodwill there is also a desire to know more about who refugees are on an individual level.

“It is natural to be interested in others, especially when they are newly arrived in a community and most of us want to get to know our new neighbours or colleagues. However, I think most people would agree that it is only fair to give people the time and space they need to adjust to their new circumstances before giving media interviews.

“It is difficult to strike the right balance between satisfying an understandable public desire to know more about who people are, and making sure that people are not put under any pressure in their early days of arriving in a new country.”

New government, new homes

In Canada, part of the Liberal Party platform before they won the October federal election, and reasserted immediately after, was to take in 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of 2015, something which has now been stretched into February. The first arrived in Toronto on December 11 with new PM Justin Trudeau welcoming the initial families off the plane.

Images of the prime minister and refugees appear on the front page of the Citizenship and Immigration Canada [CIC] website. The department has now been renamed by the new government as Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).3

Faith St-John, communications officer with IRCC, told Tomorrow in an email statement that some families were asked before boarding the Canadian military flight if they were interested in speaking to the media when they arrived.

She said: “Several families volunteered to do so, and signed consent forms indicating that they gave their full permission to have their photographs taken. These families deplaned first. Families who were not interested in participating in any public activities, deplaned later.

“Media who expressed interest in the arrival of the first flight were advised by email that for security and privacy reasons, media would not be able to access the tarmacs or the departure/arrival areas of the flights bringing Syrian refugees to Canada. A media pool was granted access to a controlled area of the Toronto airport, under escort.‎”

Refugees welcome

Canadian government website promoting the recent Syrian refugee arrival. Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.

She added: “The Canadian government is aware of the hardships that these families have faced, and respected the wishes of any person who did not wish to participate in any public activities. Only those families who volunteered were part of the public activities. As mentioned above, media was not given access to the tarmacs or the departure/arrival areas of the flights bringing Syrian refugees to Canada. For security and privacy reasons, only a small media pool was granted access to a controlled area of the Toronto airport, under escort.”

Tomorrow checked with some high-profile aid organisations in Canada on their involvement in the arrivals. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Canada4 deferred all questions to the Canadian government. The Canadian Red Cross5 said they supported the approach.

Kathleen Kahlon, director of communications with the organisation, said they view the presence of the media during a disaster or special events such as the refugee arrival as “normal occurrence”.

She said: “We work with media to help them deliver information that is important for the public to know, while also protecting the privacy of the people we are assisting.

“The Government of Canada made us aware of their plans prior to the arrival of the refugees and we were comfortable with their approach given the care and consideration of privacy that guided those plans.

“Support will be provided by the Red Cross in temporary accommodation sites in both Quebec and Ontario to help integrate Syrian families in their new communities.” 

By contrast, Lifeline Syria,6 a group formed in June 2015, said they were not consulted on the process but that half of those families who have already arrived connected to their sponsors were willing to talk to the media.

Lifeline Syria’s confidentiality policy states there must be informed consent for media requests – including understanding how widely images may appear and be shared – and particular concern shown to personal information that could lead to identification of a family.

It also states: “Refugee families are symbols of hope and strength; families who have been given the opportunity to resettle in safe, welcoming Canadian communities.”

‘Vulnerable’ and hidden

Prime Minister Trudeau, as cited on the CIC/IRCC website, stated there was a responsibility to expand refugee targets and give victims of war a “safe haven”.

“The resettling of vulnerable refugees is a clear demonstration of this,” it adds.7

But protecting “vulnerable” refugees or those applying or rejected for the status are largely hidden from the public view in both Scotland and Canada.

Canada’s Refugee Protection Division8 and Refugee Appeals Division9 with the quasi-judicial Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) are closed to the public. Whereas the Syrian refugees have been granted status before they arrive in Canada, the RPD and RAD deal with claims made within Canada. Because they are not yet refugees, the law says the hearings are private.

Is justice blind?

Is justice blind? Illustration by artist in residence Jason Skinner, Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

In an email statement, Melissa Anderson, senior communications advisor with the IRB, told Tomorrow: “The legislation under which the IRB is governed has provisions for the hearings of refugee protection claimants, not refugees, to be private. There is no automatic privacy provision for either refugees or failed refugee claimants appearing before the Board’s Immigration and Immigration Appeal Division (with the exception of a failed refugee claimant who has an application for a pre-removal risk assessment with IRCC).”

The administrative tribunal referred Tomorrow to their “chairperson guideline” on “vulnerable persons”, who they define as including: “the mentally ill, minors, the elderly, victims of torture, survivors of genocide and crimes against humanity, women who have suffered gender-related persecution, and individuals who have been victims of persecution based on sexual orientation and gender identity”.

Similarly in Scotland, those who have their refugee claims rejected and await deportation or appeals, or those with criminal convictions, are held in “Dungavel House”, an immigration removal centre in South Lanarkshire frequently referred to as Dungavel Detention Centre.10 Long a source for significant dispute between the Scottish Government and the UK government, which retains control of immigration and borders, the site has been opposed by campaigners and politicians and only accessed by reporters rarely through subterfuge or smuggled information.

Humza Yousaf said Dungavel wasn’t kept isolated in location and excluding press and even human rights scrutiny to “protect” individuals.

He said: “Anybody who tries to make the argument that the processes in Dungavel are carried out away from the media spotlight is for the protection of asylum seekers, is frankly lying through their back teeth.

“That is not the primary reason why media and cameras won’t be allowed into Dungavel. It is frankly because the practices of detaining families and children is a practice that most normal people would see as unacceptable. I’m very much of that view. So the reason for the lack of any public scrutiny in Dungavel is not for the protection of the asylum seeker – far from it.”

Kate Alexander, director of the Scottish Detainees Visitors,11 said there has been more interest into immigration detention centres this year than ever before. And voices from inside centres in the UK are getting out to the public through campaign groups and social media, even if the press can’t get in to interview detainees. As well as individuals who have been denied refugee status and may be appealing, there are also many with other non-UK citizenship following prison sentences for criminal convictions.

This is the most interest I have seen in detention,” she told Tomorrow by phone. “They’re very secretive places, there’s quite a lot of effort being made by organisations like us, Detention Action and Detention Forum to open them up. The government does a lot to try and make them as invisible as possible, but there are strenuous efforts to make them more visible.

“Quite often people want help to be more public. Earlier this year we learned people in Dungavel were undertaking a hunger strike in order to bring attention to indefinite detention. But one of the difficulties is that they’re stuck in there and nobody can see them and they asked for our help in bringing that story out. So sometimes people actively want to shine a light on their position in detention.”

Ms Alexander admitted that the public attention on the subject of migration in 2015 has resulted in more interest in her group by volunteers and what is going on at Dungavel. There has been a “trickle-down effect to Dungavel and places like it”, she said.

The Home Office, who Tomorrow asked about both Dungavel and their approach on press access at arrivals in November, offered a limited statement that didn’t answer the questions posed.

“It is a matter for each individual local authority how they deal with and facilitate media requests once they have resettled refugees,” emailed press spokesman Michael Charouneau. “The Home Office’s priority is to ensure these vulnerable people are able to settle into their new homes and communities and given the opportunity to rebuild their lives.”

What do we need to see?

With millions of people having fled the conflict in Syria and Iraq, as well as other countries around the globe, and with fiery rhetoric against them from some politicians and their supporters, is there a “need” to see new arrivals and immigration more widely?

An Ethical Journalism Network report criticised vast swathes of the media in Europe and elsewhere for missed opportunities and fear mongering about the refugee and migrant crisis in 2015. It found stretched press resources and news organisations being led by politicians and negative depictions of “numbers” versus human stories.12

Mr Yousaf said he understood the Canadian approach and was sympathetic to a desire for positive coverage and celebrating the thousands of good acts in support of the new members of communities.

“There should be as much public scrutiny in what we do and how we resettle refugees as possible and I would welcome that,” he told Tomorrow. “All we were simply doing on arrival was to ensure that the advice we’d been given from other refugees was taken on board.

“Both refugee and asylum issues are not universally popular. If anybody thinks that the accepting of refugees was a popular decision then they should just come out knocking doors as I do. It’s not what you’d call in the business a vote winner by any stretch of the imagination.

“The same when it comes to asylum seekers and those that are in Dungavel. There’ll be many people who will say, I’m afraid, ‘Well these people deserve to be locked up because they’ve failed their asylum and they shouldn’t be in the country’.

“And the other camp, which I belong to, which says these people have not committed any criminal offence, even if they have failed an asylum application and they should not be treated like criminals and should not be detained – neither they or their children. So it’s a very polarised debate in the first place, and so nuances often get lost in polarised debates.”

Of the clothes and toys distributions, befriending neighbours and other welcomes going on around Scotland, and covered by the press, Mr Yousaf added it was “very, very heartwarming to see”.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.


No relevant issues on principles 1, 2, 3, 4, 9, 10 or 11.

Principles 5, 6, 7 and 8 intersect on this subject: “a duty to openness” and “comfort the afflicted and afflicted the complacent”. We have already drawn attention in 2015 to the complacency around media and public access to immigration courts and tribunals. Refugees also arrive in countries seeking protection all the time, but rarely make the news unless propelled by other events, such as political scapegoating. But part of the duty to “comfort the afflicted” means both our reporting and our interaction must be aware of a need to provide “safe harbour” to readers and interviewees.

So, politicians inviting the media to speak with or photograph refugees who are, according to their own press statements “vulnerable”, does not mean it is automatically right to do so. And even if they are interviewed and photographed, their personal details and aspects of why they have fled their home country must be treated with care and caution. Just as “justice must be seen to be done”, and this certainly applies to unseen refugee and immigration tribunals and courts, this must be balanced with protections for individuals in some cases, if only as journalist sources. There is no single rule on the subject of human migration.

  1. Humza Yousaf MSP profile page. On September 2, 2015, the body of Alan Kurdi washed up on shore, galvanising world outrage at the refugee crisis. Scotland’s First Minister held an “emergency summit” on September 4 and called for a task force, who met first on September 9.
  2. SRC website.
  3. The website url is still CIC at time of writing but the department name was changed when the new government was sworn in.
  4. Press release from the UNHCR welcoming refugees to Canada.
  5. Red Cross refugee page.
  6. Lifeline Syria website.
  7. Quote from “phase 1” website detailing resettlement. p
  8. RPD website detailing protections for applicants.
  9. RAD website with section on confidentiality.
  10. Home Office site with basic details of the removal centre and others in the UK.
  11. SDV website of the registered charity.
  12. Press release from EJN with a link to the 100-page report.

Are superbugs stalking refugees in Europe?


World health bodies are trying to cut the use of antibiotics, but they’re still easily available. Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.

Refugees and migrants arriving in Europe could be immune to the very drugs deployed to help them recover from war trauma and journeys across continents, medics fear.

As well as annual cross-border travel and tourism by millions worldwide, nearly one million refugees and migrants arrived by sea into the European Union in 2015, half of them fleeing Syria and another 20 per cent from Afghanistan.1

The spread of bugs resistant to antibiotics is regarded as a threat as serious as climate change, according to European health officials.

But how it may affect refugees and migrants – many of whom come and are passing through countries where antibiotics are dispensed frequently without even prescriptions – is largely unknown.

And health experts have told Tomorrow that antimicrobial resistance (AMR) amongst the million new residents of European Union nations will have to be addressed, even as scientists argue it is almost impossible to assess the problem.

Michael Scannell, director of the food and veterinary office at the Health and Food Safety Directorate of the European Commission,2 admitted AMR for refugees was an “evolving area” and many risks were replicated in normal tourism.

We know that the pattern of antibiotic prescription varies enormously from one member state to another,” he told Tomorrow. “That’s even without with this particular migration crisis. The extent to which that might be replicated in how incoming migrants themselves are treated, frankly offhand I don’t have an answer.

“But I’d be surprised if any competent physician, if his immediate reaction when confronted by a large number of refugees, migrants, is, ‘Oh let’s give them all a prescription for a particular antibiotic’. Hopefully he would have the competence and the professionalism to deal with them on a case-by-case basis.

“If you’ve arrived in Europe having trekked through various deserts, in very cramped conditions, with poor nutrition and healthcare and then you have to make a dangerous sea crossing, fatigue alone is going to leave you very vulnerable to illness and ill health. And that is the case.

European Union

European Union flags in front of the European Commission headquarters in Brussels. Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.

“We are providing a lot of assistance to equip member states to deal with the immediate healthcare needs of migrants. But it’s a very formidable challenge, as is finding accommodation, as is processing their asylum claims, as is deciding to which member states they should be assigned. This is, by any definition, an absolutely enormous challenge of which healthcare is a very important but not the only challenge.”

On the main front line in Greece, where more than 800,000 people have arrived by sea from Turkey in 2015, Hellenic Rescue Team put out a appeal in November for medicine including antibiotics for children as they work on the island of Lesbos and elsewhere.3 They provide first aid during search and rescue missions and are working with other agencies to meet healthcare needs.

It has been confirmed that the refugees that arrive in this camp are suffering from several kinds of infections, mostly due to the weariness of the long trip, and there are also thousands of them that are injured from war conflicts,” Μeni Kourkouta of HRT told Tomorrow by email.

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said there was no “inherent” public health risk from migration.

The conditions in which migration takes place expose migrants to health risks during their journey,” explained IOM’s director of migration health department, Dr Davide Mosca.4 “The most obvious of these in Europe is death at sea. But they can also result in aggravation of pre-existing health conditions, and a break in continuity and quality of care.

“Both are pre-conditions for avoiding microbes resistant to drugs in the course of treatment. This is particularly true for migrants coming from countries where health systems have collapsed or where they are unable to access quality care during their journey and at their destination.

Dr Andrea Ammon, acting director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC),5 said antibiotics resistance of arriving refugees and migrants was an issue to “keep in mind and monitor”.

We are right now developing the plans how to deal with the infectious disease health issues of the migrants and that is one of the issues that need to be taken into account,” she told Tomorrow at a briefing for journalists in Brussels in November.

A science primer

microbes: Bacteria are a type of microbe so when you hear antimicrobial resistance and antibiotic resistance, they are referring to the same issue, i.e. germs, bugs or pathogens that have become resistant to drugs used against them. Antimicrobials also include antivirals, antifungals and antiparasitics. The human body caries around 10-100 billion microbes, described as your “normal flora”. That flora can be naturally resistant, but you might never know if you don’t become ill.

antibiotics: With penicillin’s discovery in 1928, it began being used in the World War II and spread to the general public in 1943. But by then, the first resistance had already been discovered. Resistant strains of diseases have sometimes been found as soon as months after the antibiotics were introduced.

superbug: This isn’t the same as super-resistance. An organism might be resistant to multiple drugs (multi-drug resistant, or MDR), or extensively-drug resistant (XDR) or even pan-drug resistant (PDR). But if the resistant organism also causes an infection, and one that frequently causes death, then it’s a superbug. Some of the most series superbugs include C.diff, MRSA and ESBL.6

ESBLs (extended-spectrum beta-lactamases): This is an enzyme produced by a bacteria that are resistant to many types of antibiotics. E. coli bacteria, for example, can produce ESBLs and then become harder to treat.7

gram-positive/gram-negative: This describes how some bacteria can be identified by “staining” them with a violet dye. Identified in 1884, and later named after discoverer Hans Christian Gram, “negative” bacteria have thicker membrane walls more resistant to antibiotics than “positive” ones.

Professor Timothy Walsh, of Cardiff University’s school of medicine,8 works with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and others on the nature of antimicrobial resistance.

He said resistance to drugs can be widespread, particularly in countries where antibiotics have been easily available to humans and overused in agriculture. New research in Pakistan, he said, found about 95 per cent of the population has ESBLs as part of the normal flora and another 40-50 per cent were resistant to a type of antibiotics typically only used for hospital infections, carbapenems. They’re used when someone is already multi-drug resistant, so resistance to them as well is serious.

Another antibiotic, colistin, is old and until recently rarely used as it now becomes a last resort. Colistin is one of a type of drugs called polymyxins and Prof Walsh and a team of researchers discovered a gene, MCR-1, that is resistant to polymyxins. The gene means bacteria invincible to antibiotics and infections such as pneumonia, previously easily treated, can once again be deadly. And MCR-1 has been found in China, Malaysia, Laos, is believed to be in north Thailand and Vietnam, and has been detected in Denmark and the UK, explained Prof Walsh.

Another gene, NDM-1, resists multiple antibiotics including carbapenems and was first found in India and Pakistan. It has seen been found in the UK, Canada, Sweden, Australia, Japan, and the United States, all within the past six years. The gene might be common in bacteria, but it’s only when attached to a serious infection, such as e.coli, that it becomes deadly.

Even beyond ethical research concerns and access to refugee camps for study, it is “virtually impossible” to track the use of antibiotics in conflict zones and medical history of refugees, said Prof Walsh.

“These days because of economic globalisation, quite frankly what happens in one country spreads rapidly throughout the others,” Prof Walsh told Tomorrow by phone.

“Understanding why these countries generate resistance in clinical strains and how they spread is really important, because obviously forewarned is forearmed. The other important thing is to help those countries, if they’re willing to be helped of course, to try and mitigate the spread of resistance within their countries. Obviously once it spreads out of the country, it affects health services in other countries – it becomes a clinical and financial burden.

“Where you have thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people, moving, very quickly from one country to another, from an area where antibiotics have been used very freely, there’s been a lack of sanitation, all those sorts of things and so their normal flora is very MDR if not XDR, then those bacteria will be carried into that new country. And invariably it will spread.

“If they are going to be admitted into the western healthcare system, then there’s going to have to be good infectious disease measures and screening of patients, or trying to get an accurate estimate of [medical] history. So I think that’s actually very important. How stable this resistance is, as people’s normal flora, whether those same bugs go on and cause disease, it’s very very difficult to say. These are the sort of factors that are unknown but nonetheless they are various groups are working on that trying to understand the importance of that.”

Prof Walsh added: “Trying to understand the medium to long-term impact of human travel, whether it be through economic globalisation, whether it be through economic migrants, whether it be through refugees, whether it be just through people jumping on airplanes and travelling, I think it’s massive and I think it’s poorly understood.”

And that ignorance may not just be a threat to the long-term health of arriving refugees and migrants, but even to immediate aid.

Amidst rising anti-immigration and specifically anti-Muslim political rhetoric and actions in some European countries, Mr Scannell emphasised the “real humanitarian issue” beyond just healthcare.

Dr Mosca, of the IOM, added: “The greatest public health risk is that the health needs of refugees and migrants will go unmet, due to stigma, discrimination or xenophobia, in the countries they transit and at their destination.”

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.
  1. UNHCR data on those crossing into Europe, quoting as of December 16, 2015.
  2. Organisation chart showing Mr Scannell’s place in the EC.
  3. HRT appeal page, in Greek.
  4. Biography of Dr Mosca.
  5. Dr Andrea Ammon profile page.
  6. More US-based background on the threats.
  7. UK background on ESBLs.
  8. Prof Walsh profile page.

Schools should teach ‘sacrifice’, says educator


Tis the season to buy for Holly. Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence

Schools need to teach the value of “sacrifice” as a positive way to promote sustainability and shield young people from “insane” consumerism, an academic has argued.

The idea of “enough” for each person needed to be the basis of guiding the curriculum, particularly in secondary schools, said Leon Robinson, of the school of education at the University of Glasgow.1

And the concept was needed to combat against extremes of not just consumption, but also the extreme minimalism and even radical political positions.

“Got a very bad name, sacrifice,” he said. “Generally people don’t think it’s a good idea. They think of it in terms of giving things up, going without. It doesn’t sound too fun.

“But what I’m suggesting is we need to reclaim the idea of sacrifice to get back to why it was ever seen as a good idea.”

Ethics festival

The Only Way is Ethics, an 8-day festival in Glasgow, Scotland, in 2015. Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence

Speaking at the recent “The Only Way Is Ethics” festival2 in the Scottish city, Mr Robinson said both the teachings of Aristotle and the world’s three major religions all emphasised sacrifice and this was a more valuable approach to teaching young people ideas about creating a sustainable planet.

The psychology tradition also teaches “enough”, he said. “Enough is where we should be aiming. That’s absolutely the way we should be aiming. I don’t think it’s taking that approach at the moment.

“I don’t think they have thought it through. I don’t think the concept of sustainability is well enough understood and I don’t think the value of it is realised. There is a preoccupation with growth economics, and that’s not healthy.”

While sustainability is “name checked” throughout the curriculum, in Scotland dubbed the Curriculum for Excellence, and primary schools are doing excellent work, it is not translating to high schools, said Mr Robinson.

He explained to the small audience the Hindu and guru tradition was the opposite of the western world emphasising adding knowledge.

“In the west, education is adding things,” he said. “I need to give you some knowledge, I need to provide you with some skills, I need to give you the means to develop your knowledge and skills. Adding, adding, adding.

“The guru tradition is completely the opposite. What you need to do is get rid of your illusions, get rid of the things that are blocking your true sight, because there is a conviction in hinduism that your true self already has everything it needs. It’s immortal, it’s conscious, it’s joyous.

“All the things that are unnecessary are the things is what the guru will remove: ignorance, suffering, delusion, hatred.

“A diamond in a rough form is a beautiful thing already. But with practical skill, knowledge of what it is that you’re dealing with and how to work with it, you transform what’s already pretty nice into a most extraordinary cut of gem. I’m not saying that necessarily adds value, but it is transformed into something really quite extraordinary. This is a metaphor for how we might look at the value of removing things in order to to reveal the true value.”

In preparing students to become teachers at the university, Mr Robinson said it was vital to consider what images were eventually used to explore issues of sustainability and consumerism in society. Most, even from environmental organisations, were doom and gloom and about the threat to the planet. And while true, he questioned whether that message was working.

Using an image of drunk young people in a Glasgow park, he suspected that was a “flight from some sort of unhappiness”.

He told the audience: “We do have a consumer culture which is almost overwhelming, that people swim through it like fish through water. They don’t even question it. People assume that money is real.

“It’s an insane game run by the privileged. But it’s a game that we’ve been born into. It’s a game that we assume is reality. Of course it’s not reality – we could change the rules tomorrow. The problem is, people who are born into this culture, really do love it.”

[Tweet “”We have a consumer culture … people swim through it like fish through water.””]Instead, Mr Robinson said there needed to be an appreciation for the concepts of “satisfaction” and “contentment”, pointing out the root Latin words.

Satis is latin for enough,” he said. “Satisfaction is the making of enough. Contentment, the content of what you have in you – happiness with what you have, not craving more, not craving excess, not needing to change by adding – just being content.”

Tomorrow asked the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association for comment on how sustainability is taught in schools but they said they were unable to comment.

The Curriculum for Excellence allows teachers to develop their own approaches in the classroom, aimed at particular “outcomes” from ages three to 18. “Sustainable” or “sustainability” are mentioned 17 times in the Curriculum For Excellence 317-page “outcomes” document. “Enterprise” or “enterprising” are used 22 times. “Sacrifice” appears only once, under the section for “Catholic Christianity”. “Enough” is not used at all.3

  1. Leon Robinson profile page.
  2. Festival website.
  3. CfE “outcomes” document from Education Scotland website.

Better sales pitch needed for mediation, says analyst


Resolution, by artist in residence Jason Skinner. Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence

Neighbours looking to resolve disputes are being put off within seconds of first phone calls to mediation services because mediators can’t explain what they do.

The very foundations of mediation are not connecting with callers in the United Kingdom because it’s not what they want to hear, an expert in analysing conversations has explained.

Professor Elizabeth Stokoe, of Loughborough University,1  said analysis of initial enquiry phone calls consistently showed dispute resolution services trying to explain the near universal definitions of what mediation is, including that it is voluntary, impartial and confidential.

But “voluntary” and “impartial” were both turn-offs, even when callers had been referred to mediation as the best way to sorting out a problem with neighbours. Explaining “ideology” and not the procedure people would go through put them off, she warned.

Prof Stokoe said: “No-one is focused on getting people into mediation. But of course if these calls don’t work, then everything else is moot. Because if you don’t get clients, you don’t have a mediation service.

“[Here is] an ideological or a philosophical-type explanation of mediation, which is what our ethos is; it’s not what our practice is, it’s our beliefs: ‘We don’t take sides’, ‘We don’t judge’, ’It’s up to you to sort out your own differences’.

Mediate 2015

The Mediate 2015 conference heard what words do and don’t work in selling mediation. Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence

“This kind of explanation doesn’t work to entice people into mediation. If we know that people phone a lawyer, a council, someone who is going to be on their side and pay to be there, then to tell someone explicitly as part of your sales pitch that ‘we’re not on your side’ is not your sales pitch.”

[Tweet “”‘We’re not on your side’ is not your sales pitch.””]Prof Stokoe said those key phrases to explain mediation, as well as being unable to reply to common objections to mediation by callers, put them off.

She added: “Whether you are taking initial enquiry calls or opening a mediation, there are going to be places where mediation gets explained, and these should be opportunities to engage people, not to turn them off. No matter quite where you explain mediation, it seems the turn-offs are the same.

“Some of the words that are the most cherished in explanations of mediation appear in explanations or in calls where the caller says ‘no’, or you’ve got to do a lot more to bring it back.”

Prof Stokoe admitted mediation was a hard sell, but the word “willing” gets more people to “yes” and is the only way to turn around a “no”. So, “Would you be willing. . .?” led the caller to agree they were the cooperative party in a dispute.

Are you willing to see journalism wed mediation?

Her talk was part of the Mediate 2015 conference at Queen Margaret University in Musselburgh, Scotland,2 bringing together community, legal and family mediators.

Once people do end up in mediation, their desires and needs in the process can become quite divorced from those representing them, specifically lawyers, said Dr Tamara Relis.

Quoting her 2009 book,3 she pointed out that lawyers in Ontario, Canada, were arguing for and believed in very different results for solving disputes.

She argued that there were “parallel worlds”. In one were people sent to or volunteering for mediation services in, for example, medical cases – litigants, in legal terms. In the other were lawyers for both sides, who had experience of the process and biased expectations of how it would work and the potential outcomes.

Is justice balanced?

Is justice balanced? Illustration by artist in residence Jason Skinner, Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

“Repeat players are in a position of advantage,” she said. “They are working with clear ideas of what they’re supposed to be doing during case processing.

“The litigants who are most often paying for these services … in contrast to the professional actors, are predominantly unsophisticated in litigation and mediation and thus do not know in advance what they should be doing or what they can be doing during the processing of these cases.”

One of the two-day conference’s workshops also focused on the “power” at play in negotiations, sometimes from a person’s position, experience, language, family authority, and more. Even a mediator can have power to balance or unbalance two disputing sides.

Graham Boyack, director of the Scottish Mediation Network4 and one of the conference organisers, said there was room to expand understanding of formal and information ways of resolving conflict.

“A lot of the work with peer mediation in schools is about giving people the skills for conversation, for listening, so that they might be more amenable to mediation,” he told Tomorrow. “But they would also, hopefully, be less likely to be in a situation where they couldn’t manage the conflict themselves.

“Part of the idea is preventative – by giving people the skills of conversation, they might actually be in a better position either to seek help from peers or whoever. Because if you look at how people resolve problems, all the research says in the first instance they go to family and friends.

“There’s access to mediation but I think there could be more access. I think we’ve got work to do in all aspects of the civil justice system, and I don’t just mean in the courts for that but in complaints and other areas.

“There’s a warmth toward mediation but because of what was outlined in [Prof Stokoe’s] talk, because of a lack of understand about what it is, a lot of people don’t figure where it should be. That’s one of the jobs of the network in engaging with policy work with government, to get involved with those discussions and show them the way.”

Minister for local government and local empowerment, Marco Biagi MSP,5 told the opening of the conference: “Whether it’s in the justice system or more widely across government, mediation and the values of mediation are at the heart of what we want to see in society and government in Scotland.”

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.



No relevant issues on principles 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10 or 11.
3 and 6. Independence and accountability, and A duty to openness: Reporter Tristan Stewart-Robertson undertook training in June 2015 through the Scottish Community Mediation Centre (part of Sacro). It is a separate organisation to the Scottish Mediation Network, who organised the conference. A £20 fee was required to Queen Margaret University and did not impact impartiality.

  1. Wired talk from November 2015 of similar but shortened content to that of the conference
  2. Original conference website.
  3. Details of the book and website listing some of Dr Relis’s publications.
  4. Details of the SMN.
  5. Ministerial profile page.

Business ethics: ‘Mediocre’ is ‘good enough’

Ethics festival

The Only Way is Ethics, an 8-day festival in Glasgow, Scotland, in 2015. Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence

The “ethically mediocre” should be encouraged as more consumers look for “just” businesses, a festival has heard.

“Decent behaviour” allowed great contributions to society, argued Professor Hugh McLachlan of Glasgow Caledonian University1 at a panel of ethically driven businesses.

The event was part of the annual “The Only Way Is Ethics” festival,2 held for the first time in Glasgow, and new and established businesses emphasised benefits as social enterprises, charities or limited companies to controlling their principles.

Prof McLachlan, of the school of business and society, said: “I don’t think we should disparage the average, the mediocre. We should applaud the ethically superlative, which I do.

“Sometimes, although businesses have moral responsibilities, there are limits to them. The morally superlative is great, but we can’t be all the time.

“The morally just, even if it’s just just, is acceptable. In terms of how we should react to businesses in general, on the one hand we might think it would be really great if businesses became better people – and of course that would be great.

“The trick is to try to get rules and laws such that good people are encouraged in goodness and bad people are discouraged in their badness. And if you can get laws, rules, legal context, such that the short-term interests of business to act in a way that is in the long-term interests of everyone.

“Think of it not as making better bankers but better rules for bankers.”

Prof McLachlan said business could provide wealth that could bring “good things”, such as philanthropy, and “decent behaviour” was enough to allow “superlative activities”.

He added: “Superb moral behaviour is great, but we shouldn’t disparage the economically morally mediocre but acceptably mediocre.”

But Greg Chauvet, who moved from working in IT and the financial sector into setting up The Bike Station in Glasgow, warned that he learned “the business world out there is 90 per cent bad”.

Mr Chauvet, whose was recognised recently as social entrepreneur of the year,3 said: “My aim in life changed. I want to show that the social enterprise sector can be successful and I believe in ethical business as much as possible. We can make the change.”

Annette Currie, who is setting up food van firm Food In The Hood,4 said it was a challenge to get started.

“I wouldn’t say we’re actually a business yet because we haven’t made a profit yet,” she said. “I haven’t even managed to pay myself minimum wage. But the intention was always that it couldn’t just be about making money because that’s just not me. There always had to be some other benefit, whether to try to use as much local produce to support local producers or going into low income areas.”

She set up as a limited company, not a social enterprise, to avoid government restrictions and be able to change directions if needed. “My intensions are good,” she added.

Textile and manufacturing firm BeYonder Ltd,5 which emphasises “profit for purpose” and pays above the living wage, also took that approach. Chrissy Mackay, a member of the panel discussion, said it was important to look at the good companies might be doing as well as the bad.

She said: “This is going to take time and years to change. They are making some of those changes – some smaller, some bigger than others. But we have to encourage that level of change and look at the good things that they’re doing and focus on that, instead of constantly berating people for the bad things that they do all the time. Even if it’s a just small change, encourage that in them.”

Her colleague David Scott said it was down to consumers to make choices, some of whom were limited by income, geography or the businesses available on the products or services they support.

He added: “At some future point we may be able to tip the scales and have consumers beat a path to our door. Until then though, it’s requiring that the leadership of business owners to just go out there, to take the chance, to be prepared to lose everything by picking the wrong thing to make or finding their way into niche markets to survive long enough to get this movement going.

“We don’t have a Scottish ethical business association that I’m aware of. Your own experience in not being able to find other ethical businesses suggest we really are the forefront of something – that’s quite an exciting place to be.”

  1. Prof Hugh McLachlan profile page.
  2. Festival website.
  3. Newspaper-organised Herald Society Awards 2015.
  4. A profile page for the service.
  5. Business website.