Welsh Town Councillor Recognised for Entrepreneurial Efforts in Using IT

Everyone has great ideas about how to change the world we live in but few have the courage to follow their ideas through. One world-class entrepreneur is setting the stage alight with his talents for using information technology to improve society.

Cllr Jonathan Bishop has been selected for inclusion in the latest edition of Who’s Who in Business and Finance and has been nominated for Best Elected Advocate for Regeneration in the Upstarts Awards 2009.

The 2009 Upstarts Awards seek to recognise and reward the individual, local authority, company, and elected official who have courageously impacted the lives of their communities. The New Statesman Upstarts Awards are now in their eighth year having been inaugurated in 2001.

Social entrepreneurs are guided by social and environmental purposes and resulting profits from their endeavors are reinvested to sustain and cultivate their mission for positive change. These dynamic enterprises and individuals with a social purpose invigorate the UK economy and challenge the traditional role of companies as profit-driven ventures. There are approximately 62,000 social enterprises in the UK with a combined turnover of at least £27 billion.

Social enterprises foster the development of innovative business practices including vocational training, enterprise structures, creative revenue solutions and co-operative ownership models. The main beneficiaries of social enterprises are often the socially excluded; typically the long term unemployed, people with disabilities, the elderly, people on low incomes and children or young people.

Cllr Jonathan Bishop through his work at the social enterprise Glamorgan Blended Learning Ltd (glamorgan.coop) has pioneered the use of e-learning systems as the means to bring about social change. Jonathan has long argued the role of technologies such as e-learning and online communities in business and will be discussing the part online communities can play in combating the recession at the Internet, Technologies and Applications Conference on Tuesday September 8 at Glyndwr University in Wrexham.

Unlocking Labour's potential

Jonathan believes the Labour Party should not forget its members in the hunt for winning candidates

The Labour party has been an incredible part of the Labour movement’s struggle to increase opportunities for workers and make society fairer. It should be the natural party of all those who feel their talents are being suppressed by those with power. But how far has the party come in handing power to those who have been without for generations? Twinning and all women shortlists have meant the number of women in politics has increased. However, these can be undermined by emergency selections and tokenistic appointments.

Those who speak against positive discrimination say people should be judged on merit. This is right. But underrepresented groups have often not had the same chances to demonstrate their abilities as those who easily get the top jobs.

The Labour party selection officials say they are looking for the best candidates, and some have even stated their dissatisfaction with the quality of those coming forward. In my view, the party doesn’t need to look outside to find the best candidates. Although they are not out there ready to knock on the party’s door, they are already in the party in the form of members with untapped potential.

The British Olympic and Paralympic teams were not born the best in their fields. Many were born disadvantaged, but through being nurtured, coached and supported, some of them went on to become gold medal-winning Olympians. The Labour party needs to provide its members with similar support. It is no good drawing up criteria for what a Labour candidate should ideally be as the party should be proactive in transforming members who would otherwise not have the resources to become the best.

The trade unions have up to now played a vital role in the training and selection of Labour party candidates, many of whom have been competent union officials. The trade union link has allowed non-Labour party members to have a say in the selection of the party’s candidates long before talk of US-style open primaries. The party cannot, however, rely on the unions alone to develop its members; it is only through the Labour party seizing the initiative that it can become the force for social change in society that acts as a leading example for others to follow.

Each member that wants to be a candidate should be invited to have a mentor, perhaps a local councillor or governor, to guide them through the process. Each should be invited to a training course, which is nationally accredited and related to the personal specification for candidates and other public positions. This could do for the Labour party what the New Deal did for employers – raise the standard of those available in the marketplace so that there is more choice available to those choosing candidates. It would mean that all those with potential, especially those who were not born into privilege, have in the end an equal chance to represent the party and be judged on their actual abilities as demonstrated by an accreditation of their experiences.