Sortition certainly sounds good to us - but how do we get from here to there?
The Sortition Foundation has released a Draft Strategy Document outlining some ideas. The first campaign proposal is a call for a Citizens' Parliament on House of Lords Reform (http://www.citizensparliament.uk/). The campaign, to be officially launched later this year, will call on the UK government to constitute and empower a 650-member, random though representative sample of ordinary citizens to consider, research, deliberate on, and then make a House of Lords Reform proposal, to then be put to a national referendum. You can already sign the open letter calling for a Citizens' Parliament on Lords Reform.
If successful, such an event would demonstrate that randomly selected citizens can tackle highly politically-charged topics and it would provide an important example of sortition in action.
But how would it work? The Citizens' Parliament would be a stratified random sample selected from the electoral roll, ensuring that half of the participants are women, and half men. Many of them would be young, and some old, there would be one from every electoral district, and their educational levels would also match the census data. In short, it would be a mirror of our society.
Then, over the course of a year, in a respectful setting, with expert facilitation and access to balanced information, these people would deliberate on various options for House of Lords Reform and make a proposal in the long-term interests of the country. A referendum would check if a majority of citizens agree with them.
Why a Citizens' Parliament? Because they work. Because people trust the decisions they come to. Because they come to decisions we all would come to if we had access to balanced information and the time to deliberate on options together with a diverse group of people. Because the many are smarter than the few, and ordinary people are free from the constraints imposed on today's politicians. Find out more in the Citizens' Parliament Frequently Asked Questions.
And who knows? Perhaps the Citizens' Parliament will recommend that the House of Lords be replaced by a Senate selected using sortition? That would be the next campaign. If you are interested in getting involved please get in touch, or come along to our Strategy Workshop to be held in April:
Citizens’ Parliament on Lords Reform Campaign Strategy Workshop
Where: The Meeting Room, Level 1, 88 Fleet Street, London EC4Y 1DH (TBC)
When: 1-4pm, Wednesday 6th April
RSVP is essential: through our contact page.