A letter by Malcolm Katz
Last week in this ‘green and pleasant land,’ and with a single stroke of the pen [as it were], all but 13 extraordinarily courageous members of The Commons surrendered any hope for a Parliament following their own Act in holding themselves subject to a five-year, fixed term of office, with the Conservatives calling a snap election 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
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
Calls for a convention on the constitution, which emerged strongly in 2014 around the time of Scotland’s independence referendum, have taken on a new lease of life since last year’s general election. They are driven by a growing recognition that system-level change is needed if we are to tackle the pile-up of policies that are attacking the citizenry from every conceivable angle. And there is a clear recognition that the process should be citizen-led if the outcomes of a convention are to have real significance. Jon Trickett, Labour’s shadow communities minister, whose brief includes the constitutional convention, put forward a bold proposal for an independent process at a Democracy Day event organised by Compass earlier this year.
Read the full article on openDemocracy
Tuesday May 10, 6-9pm
Committee Room 5
House of Commons
Westminster Continue reading
Here are the decisions of the Citizens Convention on the Constitution planning group held on January 30.
1) Following the Democracy Day organised by Compass, which five members of our planning group attended, we will take up Compass’ invitation to be part of a group to work with Jon Trickett MP on proposals for a constitutional convention.
2) We will pursue the possibility of a separate meeting with Jon Trickett.
We are attending both meetings with Trickett in our capacity as an independent, autonomous group.
3) We will plan “Fun Days” in different parts of the UK as exercises in working towards citizens constitutional convention.
Next meeting: 12.30-4pm Saturday, 27 February
Arlington Conference Centre
220 Arlington Road
Camden Town NW1 7HE
Following our Assembly in London on November 14, a planning group was created to continue work on plans for a Citizens Convention on the Constitution. The first meeting was held on December 12. A second meeting on January 9 agreed the following principle and aims:
Principle: “We affirm the democratic principle that power should rest with the people”
i) campaign for a Citizens Convention on the Constitution
ii) work with other campaigns, organisations & individuals on practical steps that lead to the holding of a Convention
iii) launch a citizen/people-led constitutional democratic process
Here are the notes from our the January 9 meeting which was facilitated by Julie and Andy.
17 people attended. Apologies from Martha, Malcolm, Susan, Frances, Fiona, Adnan, Gloria. Continue reading
Oxford Democracy Builders brought people together to discuss the current housing crisis in the city. After some introduction and friendship-building, they began by talking in small groups about our personal experiences of housing in Oxford. Moving on to talk about the causes, many interconnected factors were noted, but they all seemed to be related fundamentally to politics: to the politics of land and property ownership and to finance. Report here
Plans for a citizens-led convention on the constitution have taken a major step forward as a result of the successful Assembly for Democracy held in London on November 14 jointly called with Occupy Democracy.
Report by Paul Feldman; photos Peter Arkell
A planning group will meet on December 5 to start the preparations for a convention, with suggestions that it could take place as early as May next year. Everyone present at the “Re-Imagine” Assembly was invited to be part of this process. Continue reading
Changing a constitution often involves unconstitutional actions. Just ask the ruling class. Down the centuries, they’ve used the most unorthodox of means, even what might be considered unlawful methods, to make fundamental changes to the state.
A couple of episodes from the 17th century, when the substance of the present constitution was settled, show how history moves in an unconventional, even revolutionary way, when it comes to shifting state power from one class to another.
The Century of Revolution is what historian Christopher Hill named his ground-breaking book first published in 1961. His sweeping account of a century that saw England transformed from a minor power to a dominant state is about social and political revolutions.
In 1649, after years of civil war, the Parliamentary forces under Oliver Cromwell executed Charles I, despite his claim to rule by divine right granted by God himself. England became a republic and a Commonwealth. The House of Lords was abolished, as was monarchy. Hill called it a great, yet incomplete revolution. Continue reading