11 January, 2018

It's time for a UK citizens' constitutional convention

UK ParliamentThe Sortition Foundation has recently joined an alliance of groups calling for a citizens' constitutional convention in the UK.

It all started back in the summer of 2014 when a group of people, concerned about the state of democracy in the UK, created Assemblies For Democracy. Their aim is to highlight the glaring democratic deficit in the UK and propose solutions. They organised meetings, networked with like-minded people, groups and politicians and, in July 2016, published a letter in the Guardian, Time for a new UK citizens’ constitution.

There is clearly widespread and growing disquiet about the state of our democracy, but without specific calls to action nothing will change. In July last year Assemblies For Democracy called for an alliance to press for a citizens' constitutional convention. In October 2017 an initial meeting was held with interested groups to determine whether common goals could be agreed for an alliance that would promote and organise a citizens' convention. A number of politicians attended, as well as representatives from several organisations interested in democratic change, including Unlock Democracy, Make Votes Matter and the Sortition Foundation.

As a result of the meeting a draft core statement of principles for the alliance has been agreed upon. Work has also begun on defining the scope of the citizen’s convention(s), with a costed proposal to create an organisation to run the assemblies. Whatever the final scope of the conventions two objectives are key: that there should be explicit commitments from the main political parties for Parliament to properly debate the results of the conventions, and that sortition will place a representative sample of ordinary people at the heart of the process.

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