After the Scottish independence and European referendums, nothing in the UK can be the same. But if there is one thing which that both referendums made clear, it was that people do not accept that these decisions should be made by politicians behind closed doors. We need to put our democracy on a safer footing and restore faith in our political system. Citizens must have a voice in that process.
What’s a Constitutional Convention?
A Constitutional Convention is an event where members of the public can get involved in making decisions about the constitutional shape of a country, region, nation or state.
Conventions are a way of bringing in citizens’ wide-ranging perspectives and priorities, and of ensuring that citizens are at the heart of important, ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ democratic change.
Conventions and assemblies on constitutional issues have been held in a number of countries and regions, including Ireland, and Iceland. The UK also has experience of constitutional conventions, most notably the Scottish Constitutional Convention which paved the way for the creation of the Scottish Parliament.
The design and composition of these conventions reflect the unique geographical, historical and political makeup of each of these areas, and the moment in time in which the conventions took place. While there are lessons to be drawn, the UK will need a Convention suited to its own distinct composition and needs.
The idea of a Constitutional Convention has widespread cross-party agreement, and could be ideally suited to the issue of rebalancing the relationship between the executive, parliament and voters. Greater sharing of power and clear constitutional rules that rebalance the system are necessary to pave a positive way forward from this experience – and prevent perceived abuses of power in future.
It’s time for a UK-wide, citizen-led Constitutional Convention to decide the future shape of our country.