A SHORT SUMMARY OF HOW CITIZENS’ ASSEMBLIES WORK
- You get maybe 100-150 people together, picked almost at random, like jury service
But as close as possible to the social distribution of the UK as a whole.
- There are lots of different people - plumbers, teachers, farmers, nurses, office workers -
50% women. Some young people, some old. A cross section of ethnic backgrounds and gender diversities. The wealthiest one percent only get one per cent representation
- They are made aware of critical thinking to complement their natural common sense.
They have opportunity to shape the process and the agenda.
They talk to experts. They talk and listen to each other. When they’ve finished they decide what the best way forward is and make recommendations for MPs to vote on.
- It’s about fairness. Decisions made to benefit everyone, not just the powerful.
- Citizens Assemblies are ready to roll out now. They have been used in the past many times but often only consultatively and ignored. They need to be taken seriously, and given more power so that our government and politicians have to listen. It’s time to give people a real voice in our political system through Citizens' Assemblies.
- Government involving the People directly, and amplifying the Voice of the People to work side by side with MPs to enhance and strengthen our democracy.
HOW CITIZENS’ ASSEMBLIES ARE NOT WHAT POLITICIANS SAY THEY ARE
The citizens assembly in the bill is NOT taking power away from government/MPs. The strategy still goes through government/parliament. It is supporting existing systems we have, advising them what their citizens (representative sample) who receive/request information and discuss amongst what they think should be done.
This is much more substantial than an opinion poll or vote as it results in informed judgement with reasoning from the assembly. Differing opinions are heard, but the outcome leads to consensus about what is best for the society as a whole. This is particularly helpful in dealing with complex, value based issues.
It is also helpful to highlight the well substantiated weakness in our democracy whereby the most vulnerable in our society (income, education, race) have least access to governmental/institutional power, while (monied) special interest groups influence is oversized. Failure of our system over the past 30+ years to address the environmental issue can be seen as a clear weakness in our system. It is hard to argue that by giving those who are frequently shut out of the process a voice at the assembly, is undemocratic, or unfair.
Extensive research also confirms that collective decisions of a diverse group prove to be better than those made by smaller subsets of individuals (Parliament is one such subset).
This video from The Economist sums it all up in 8 mins:
And here is a 2019 Guide on Citizens Assemblies from Extinction Rebellion. It breaks down how the CA is set up and how it works constitutionally.
Do you like this page?