Here in the UK we are rightfully proud of our long democratic history, stretching back centuries, where every citizen has the right to have their voice heard on key decisions and we all have the responsibility to take that opportunity seriously.
But reaching this point involved many changes driven by years of struggle where people demanded – and achieved – greater equality and fairness.
The courageous Chartist Movement in the mid-1800s eventually won political equality for all men, regardless of wealth, and the tenacious suffragettes achieved the same rights for women in 1928, although women were only allowed into the House of Lords in 1958.
Yet today the political class still seems out of touch with the lives and reality of everyday people like you and me. With the cost of living continuing to rise and the daily struggle to make ends meet a reality for many of us, it’s obscene that over £100 million a year of tax-payer money goes on the House of Lords, which looks like a retirement village for out-of-date, expired politicians, or the drinks-lounge for the fat-cat donors of political parties, or a relic of the antiquated days when seats in government were a birthright. No wonder most of the Lords appear asleep at the wheel.
So it’s time to continue our proud tradition of strengthening our democracy by rebooting our politics and dragging it into the 21st century. It’s time to replace the House of Lords with a House of Citizens: a permanent citizens’ assembly selected by democratic lottery so that everyone – even you! – has an equal chance of being chosen to serve. A House of Citizens would be representative of the whole UK – our friends, family, shopkeepers, teachers, doctors and nurses would make the key decisions about how we live together, and they would hold our politicians to account. A House of Citizens, guided by experts and free from political shenanigans and the hypocrisy of politicians, will make the necessary long-term choices for the good of the entire country, and the planet.
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About us: The Sortition Foundation is a not-for-profit social enterprise that helps organise citizens’ assemblies, such as the UK Climate Assembly, Scotland’s Climate Assembly and the Global Assembly, to name just a few of the over one hundred assemblies we have supported.