Programme for Re-imagine Democracy now finalised

Re-imagine democracy: towards a
Citizens Convention on the Constitution

Saturday, 14 November
from 10:45 to 16:30
(registration from 10:00)
Waterloo Action Centre
Baylis Road, London SE1 7AA

near Waterloo stations/opposite Old Vic

Programme

10.00 Registration
10.45 Opening:  Corinna Lotz (Assemblies for Democracy London)

Setting the scene: Stuart White (openDemocracy)
Asha Parkinson (school student)
Natalie Bennett (Green Party leader)

11.25 Break-out sessions introduced by Martha Jean Baker (Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers)
The challenges and what a new constitution can do for us:a)    Beyond the “dis-united kingdom” – federalism, independence and other models: Penny Cole (Assemblies for Democracy Scotland), Martha Jean Baker

b)   How can we address our democratic deficit? Peter Evans (Bristol University), Alexandra Runswick (Unlock Democracy)

c)    Refugees, Racism and Democracy:  Glen Hart (RMT Black and Ethnic Minority Members Advisory Committee), Claudine Letsae (Agreement of the People)

d)   Republicanism a Way Forward? Steve Freeman (Republican Socialist Alliance)

e)   Ecology, climate change and democracy: Julie Timbrell (Occupy Democracy)

f)     Beyond Representation – Direct/participatory/digital democracy: Andy Paice, Russell Razzaque  (UK People Power Project) and Peter Anderson (VocalEyes)

g)   Austerity, corporate power and finance as anti-democratic issues:
Gerry Gold (Assemblies for Democracy Wales)

h)   Democracy and the attack on the trade unions:
John Hendy QC (Institute of Employment Rights)

1.00 Lunch in the venue
1.40 Saxophone solo by Asha Parkinson
1.50 Towards a Citizens Convention on the Constitution

chaired by Paul Feldman,  A World to Win

Greetings from Ireland, Scotland, Manchester, Oxford

2.00 Liz Davies (Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers executive)
2.15 John McDonnell, shadow chancellor
2.35 Steps toward the Convention – introduced by Andy Paice

Some questions to consider (feel free to add your own):

  • What is a convention for?
  • Lessons from Iceland and other experiences
  • How to build support for the Convention
  • Working inside and outside parliament
  • Who should participate in the Convention?
  • Ratification and approval process
3.40 Poems of exile and freedom by Iraqi poet Adnan Al Sayegh
3.50 Reflecting on results – Andy Paice and Julie Timbrell
4.10 Call for Convention planning group & concluding remarks – Corinna Lotz

Breakout groups

a) Models for unity beyond the United Kingdom – federalism, independence etc
Penny Cole (Assemblies for Democracy Scotland), Martha Jean Baker

  • Models of federalism – what might work for the United Kingdom?
  • Independence – from what?
  • What is self-determination today?
  • Where should autonomy start – can there be a federation of localities?
  • What kind of constitution supports a federation of equals?

b) How can we address our democratic deficit?
Peter Evans (BristolUniversity), Alexandra Runswick (Unlock Democracy)

It is now commonly held that British politics suffers from a major “democratic deficit”, with outcomes falling far short of desires and expectations. In this session Peter and Alexandra will provide context and information for an informed discussion addressing this.

c) Refugees, Racism and Democracy
Glen Hart (RMT Black and Ethnic Minority), Claudine Letsae (Agreement of the People)

Western democracy is at the heart of the refugee crisis. It has seen an escalation of racism, xenophobia and rightwing populist political tendencies. Does strengthening anti-racist legislation solve anything or do we need a different approach to realise a more inclusive democracy.

d) Republicanism a Way Forward?
Steve Freeman (Republican Socialist Alliance)

Our government and constitution is founded on the “Crown-in-Parliament”. Should the constitution be reformed or do we need a new constitution with democratic republican principles? What are these principles? How can this be achieved if only twenty five percent are republican in outlook?

e) Ecology, climate change and democracy 
Julie Timbrell (Occupy Democracy)

The legends of Robin Hood, the Diggers and the People’s Declaration of Mother Earth Rights in Cochabamba are about people’s movements that have sought social & environmental justice. We will explore our history & how working for constitutional change is vital to halt climate change and eco-destruction.

f) Beyond Representation – Direct/participatory/digital democracy
Andy Paice (Facilitator), Russell Razzaque  (UK People Power Project) and
Peter Anderson (VocalEyes)

With the new realities of the 21st century, reliance on representation is rapidly becoming outdated. Whenever the structures enable their input, citizens around the globe are enthusiastically taking an active role. This session investigates how direct, participatory and digital methods can be used to upgrade democracy.

g) Austerity, corporate power and finance as anti-democratic issues 
Gerry Gold (Assemblies for Democracy Wales)

We’ll look at why representative democracy has failed the 99%, many of whom have taken to the streets against austerity and debt. We’ll see how parliament has been invaded by credit-financed corporate interests driven by the imperative of shareholder profits.

h) Democracy and the attack on the trade unions
John Hendy QC (Institute of Employment Rights)

Democracy – in society or in the workplace – simply cannot function without strong trade unions with strong rights, in particular the right to collectively bargain underpinned by the right to strike, which is now under renewed attack from Tory legislation.

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