The People’s Plan – an exercise in participative democracy: 15th November 2015
By Rashid Mihar
The People’s Plan for Manchester is an ambitious learning exercise in how to listen and understand the views, ideas and priorities of as many people as are willing to share them with a view towards changing what’s going on around us.
This is democracy in action, by contrast with the flawed version of devolution which was dressed up as an offer but has essentially been imposed on Greater Manchester by the government without even a semblance of consultation.
This is a region where the conversation of identity, destiny, autonomy and democratic vision had already begun before George Osborne stepped in with the so-called Northern Powerhouse, which local authority leaders fell over themselves in their unseemly haste to sign up to. Continue reading
By Julie Timbrell, of The New Putney Debates and Occupy London
Celebrations to mark the 800th anniversary next year of the Charter of the Forest get underway next month in preparation for some big events next year. While the Magna Carta of 1215 is now much more famous, the Charter of the Forest of 1217 at the time was certainly as important, maybe more so, because it gave commoners rights, privileges and protection against the abuses of the king, his sheriffs and the encroaching aristocracy. Crucially it allowed people to subsist and have access to the commonwealth, in the forests, chases and heaths. Continue reading
Guest blog from Robin McAlpine, Director of Scottish think tank Common Weal
I don’t live in the North of England. In fact, sometimes I have to remind myself that it is a place and not just an event.
Because every time the BBC produces a documentary about Britain over the last 40 years, it seems to me that ‘the North’ is treated as something bad that happened in 1985. The pattern is consistent – pictures of places in the South of England looking a bit run down (that’s the 1970s), pictures of people in the South of England suddenly buying new things in the shops (that’s the start of the 1980s), picture of city traders in the South of England waving wads of money at the camera (that’s Thatchers economic ‘miracle’), pictures of miners and other poor people in the North of England suffering horrendously (that’s the unfortunate side effects of Thatcher’s miracle, or 1985 as people in the South seem to see it), pictures of young people in the South of England taking ecstasy and dancing in fields (thank heavens ‘the North’ stopped happening in time for rave culture). Continue reading
Devolution is coming to Greater Manchester – or is it? The government has imposed a ‘super mayor’ to rule over a combined authority and what is clear is the absence of democracy in the process. This is the case both in the way the original decision was made as well as how the new structure is planned to work. Continue reading
“Our democracy would look like a creeping, crypto-oligarchy to the ancient Greeks – and many today may be coming to a similar conclusion.”
Paul Cartledge, Professor of Greek Culture, Cambridge.
Reconstituting British democracy, a personal account by Dr Chris Forman, of the “Constituting Democracy” event organised by Assemblies for Democracy.
On Saturday, 16th July 2016, a diverse group of British citizens gathered to discuss how the entire population of the UK could contribute to, and legitimize, a new constitution for the UK. The event, held at Southbank University in London, was organised by Assemblies for Democracy in response to the growing corpus of individuals in the UK who are deeply unsatisfied with the fundamental relationship between citizens and the state in the UK. Continue reading
The EU referendum has raised important questions about where power lies and where it should lie, which won’t be seriously addressed without creating an independent process for change. There is a widespread perception that our political system is broken. Many feel that key decisions are made in the interests of corporations, banks and the super wealthy. Increasing inequality and an antiquated voting system, which has produced a majority government with the support of fewer than one in four registered voters, add to a growing discontent.
At the heart of this social disquiet lies our uncodified and somewhat mysterious constitution, whose essential features date back to the end of the 18th century. We have to take democracy into the 21st century, tackle the underlying problems of trust in our political system and address the constitutional issues about how countries within the UK relate to each other.
That is why we are supporting the proposal for the creation of a citizens’ convention on the constitution. This has to be an open, transparent and independent process, because those who hold the levers of power have too much of a vested interest in preserving the status quo. A citizen-led process could refound the UK on the democratic principle of popular sovereignty, where power truly does rest with the people and decisions are made in the public interest.
Neal Lawson Chair of Compass
Anthony Barnett Founder, openDemocracy
Natalie Bennett Leader, Green Party of England and Wales
Alexandra Runswick Director, Unlock Democracy
Michael Mansfield QC
Michael Sheen Actor
Klina Jordan Facilitator, Make Votes Matter
Stuart White Fellow in politics, Jesus College, Oxford
Nick Dearden Director, Global Justice Now
Corinna Lotz, Assemblies for Democracy
Published 2 July 2016
An Assemblies for Democracy meeting 10th May 2016 at the House of Commons, Westminster
Report by Julie Timbrell/Peter Arkell; Photos Peter Arkell
Designing Democracy for the 21st Century was called by Assemblies for Democracy, to talk about why we need a constitutional convention, and to consider how we design one that will have the best outcome for citizens. Energy has been building for a citizens-led convention that looks critically at the present broken UK constitution and comes forward with proposals for democratic change amongst democracy groups, social justice campaigners, citizens and progressive parties. The Green party has called for one, and Jon Trickett, the shadow minister for the constitutional convention, supports the idea. King’s College, University of London, is drafting a proposal to create and run a convention. This event was called to bring experts on designing conventions, democracy groups and citizens together to learn more about the process such a citizen-led convention could look like. Continue reading
The Purpose and Process of a Constitutional Convention – read the detailed results of a survey conducted by Assemblies for Democracy London. Those consulted included participants at the May 10 meeting at Parliament plus members of the Assemblies for Democracy planning group. It reveals a thought-provoking and wide range of views on what a convention should be about and how people might be consulted.
Here are the results which reveal both a common purpose and a wide range of ideas: Survey2016
Democracy for 21st Century, Assemblies for Democracy , 10th May 2016, 6-9pm Committee Room 5, House of Commons, Westminster
First general discussion on the first three of Alan Renwick’s six questions:
- What is the purpose of this process?
- Who is represented in this process?
- What is the basic structure of the body or set of bodies that debates the options and makes recommendations?
DemFest 2016 was a 2-day celebration and discussion of democratic ideas. A wide range of people and groups assembled in the Flintshire countryside, with workshops and speakers looking at the crisis of democracy, and the alternatives.
It was held in Gladstone’s Library, a unique residential library in Hawarden, and co-organised by the library, the Raymond Williams Foundation and The Democratic Society. Continue reading