Manchester: Democracy and the Power of Decision workshop

PARTICIPATORY / BOTTOM UP DEMOCRACY

From the table discussion in Room 1

NB These proposals achieved consensus around the table. However we recognised they are not the finished product and will require polishing/fine tuning.

  • We need more formal rights to facilitate greater participation in the democratic system
  • Extend participation in decision making tobeyond merely the elected reps
  • Citizens assemblies at every level shadowing the work of elected chambers, from neighbourhood level through to national parliament
  • Assemblies’ rights to be acknowledged in legislation, but be independent of council/parliamentary control
  • Assemblies perhaps operate like 38 degrees meetings, feeding into decision making chambers
  • Digital discussion platforms feeding into assemblies and elected chambers’ decision making
  • End the council cabinet system, go back to committee system with the public’s right to attend and speak at meeting
  • Formal right for interest groups to have input into decision making
  • Online petitions, including 1. triggering votes of no confidence in elected leadership & 2. proposing legislation
  • Scoreboards in elected chambers showing public opinion before a vote

Action

* External agency: Ultimately legislation is needed to formally change decision making systems as proposed

* Us acting with others: We can campaign for these changes with those who support them

* What we can do: set up informally a parallel participatory system as above in the meantime.

Notes:

Digital democracy will exclude those who do not or cannot use it, such as the elderly, but provision might be made for the using more traditional media with those sall number.

There is a risk an uninformed populace will gravitate to towards harsh solutions to issues (n.b. popular support for hanging). So a correct balance between representatives’ opinions and those of ‘the mob’ may need to be struck. An informed electorate may make better choices than an ignorant one. Representatives will need to defend and explain unpopular decisions

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