Democracy advances in Scotland with its Citizens’ Assembly, meanwhile in England…

29th October 2019 / United Kingdom
Democracy advances in Scotland with its Citizens’ Assembly, meanwhile in England...

TruePublica Editor: Just how jealous am I right now of the advancing democracy of Scotland as it engages with its electorate to determine its future – whilst England rapidly spirals into something distinctly the opposite.


The Scottish Citizens’ Assembly officially kicked off last weekend and is set out to be one strand of the Scottish Government’s three-pronged approach to determine constitutional and governance change for Scotland. The others are the establishment of a legal framework providing the option for a referendum through the ‘Referendums (Scotland) Bill’ and cross-party talks to identify areas of agreement on constitutional change.

The following is a statement by the Scottish government demonstrating quite clearly its democratic intentions and putting to shame the shenanigans and duplicity of Westminster.

The (Scottish) Citizens’ Assembly will be independent, transparent and inclusive.

Transparency, inclusivity and independence from government will underpin the new Citizens’ Assembly of Scotland, Constitutional Relations Secretary Michael Russell has announced.  

Made up of 100 members of the public, the Assembly will be overseen by two independent co-conveners, be able to call on expert witnesses and have its own secretariat. Deliberative sessions will be live streamed and evidence published.

In a statement to Parliament Mr Russell said:

“It is important that the Assembly is clearly seen to be independent when reflecting on the debate that Scotland needs. This Parliament is rightly proud of the first 20 years of our reconvened existence. But democracy does not stand still. We have to keep innovating in order to keep moving. When we see, in the Brexit issue, a complete breakdown in trust between politicians and people, surely it should inspire all of us, no matter our political allegiance, to find new ways to bring politicians and people together to resolve deep seated division. Citizens’ assemblies are becoming an established way for mature democracies to engage with complex and contested issues on an inclusive, informed and respectful basis. That is what we want for Scotland.”

Assembly members are randomly selected by an independent contractor and be broadly representative of Scotland’s adult population according to age, ethnic group, socio-economic background, geography and political attitudes. They will receive expenses and a thank you gift of £200 per weekend in recognition of their commitment. The Assembly will meet over six weekends from late Autumn to Spring 2020. A dedicated website containing information about the Citizens’ Assembly and its work has gone live.

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The point is – with a citizens assembly, the electorate knows that they are being represented somewhere in the political system aside from the normal elective system and have a real voice over the way their country is governed.


In contrast

England has now become so dysfunctional so quickly that the country has physically changed its long-held characteristics as a nation. From a renewed feeling of optimism in the 1990s – ‘Cool Brittania’ led straight into the pride of Team GB’s London 2012 medal roll call of honour – to a country that is literally tearing itself to pieces and self-immolating before our eyes.

As Ian Dunt puts it” “There are so many problems that need fixing in this country – crime, poverty, routine winter NHS crises, an economy trundling along on the zero line. This week, a container was found with the bodies of 39 people, all immigrants from China. It was grotesque proof of the utter failure – the life-ending, murderous failure – of our hardline immigration policy. Anyone with any decency who found themselves with political power would be seeing what they could do to improve things. But the person in charge of the country can’t be bothered to even govern.”

Type the keywords – ‘England Failed State‘ and page one from your search engine reveals the sentiment of many, not just here in the UK but across the world. Britain’s institutions, economic prospects, constitution and future are all put at serious risk for an ideology that started as nothing more than the infighting of one political party — but the delusion and lies continue. Now, we even have a Department of Propaganda spewing its divisive fake news bile across the airwaves and headed up by our own Prime Minister at taxpayers expense. What does that say about us?

Instead of government being accountable to parliament we now have a mendacious lying techno-autocrat in the name of Dominic Cummings who is masterminding Britain’s departure from the EU with or without parliamentary approval – who dodges any form of scrutiny by not being elected by anyone for anything. Chaos theory is what this charlatan lives, breathes and manages government with.

No matter what you might read or hear – England no longer has even the basics of a properly functioning democracy. In Scotland, randomly selected citizens will meet intermittently over six months to consider the trajectory of Scotland’s future, and produce a report of its recommendations for the Scottish Parliament to consider. By contrast, England has an unelected Prime Minister who used the Queen’s Speech as little more than an opportunity to recite a press release of empty legislation which was never intended to use and immediately threw it on the floor as it announces its intention to force another election just days later. And even that will have be in collusion with another party which will use dodgy loophole tactics to achieve its own aims for fame and glory. Our PM was elected by 90,000 people who do not remotely represent the demographics of the electorate of Britain, has not delivered what he was crowned to do and lied his way from one crisis to the next – which continues unabated.

As Conor Black wrote in Electoral Reform Society last week – “Citizens’ Assemblies can help to establish a more direct link between ordinary citizens and the policy-/decision-making process than currently exists in our political system. Importantly, Citizens’ Assemblies are grounded in the ideals of deliberation – that is, meaningful communication between informed individuals working towards reaching a mutually beneficial and collective decision. The Citizens’ Assembly of Scotland has been heavily influenced by the highly regarded – and widely successful – Irish model.”

These Citizens Assemblies may have flaws to be ironed out but as Black says –  Ultimately, the success of any citizens’ assembly is reliant on a willingness of parliamentarians to listen to the demands of citizens and to respect the recommendations of the assembly, even if they contradict/go against their political agendas. With this in mind, it is necessary to increase the accountability and democratic pressure of our elected officials.

Again, by contrast, England has a bunch of mendacious chancers with its plethora of dodgy political freelancers masquerading as the people’s champions using loopholes to get around democracy. It’s a sickening and unedifying spectacle at best – at worst, it could sink the country into the mediocrity of middle-ranking countries around the world.




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