New campaigning coalition calls for overhaul of Westminster and the electoral system

Posted on the 5th November 2019

  • Statement from the Electoral Reform Society for immediate release, 5th November 2019
  • Contact [email protected] / 07717211630 for more information or interview bids. 

A major new campaign has been launched to demand an overhaul of Westminster, in an election call for all parties to back root-and-branch reform.

In a statement [1] signed by dozens of campaigners and organisations, the ‘Up to Us’ [2] campaign – backed by the ERS and spearheaded by the think tank Compass – calls for a citizens’ assembly to set out reforms of the political system.

Letter in full

Our democracy is precious. But right now, it’s in a mess. The problems are there for all to see: in the chaos over Brexit, in our inability to respond to the climate crisis, and in an economic system that keeps failing.

These are all symptoms of the same disorder: the way we make decisions isn’t working. Our democratic system is in urgent need of renewal. Power is too far away from people. We need the power to make changes in our lives and our communities. But too often we don’t know who can help or who is responsible. Parliament and elections are stuck in the past. The structures and systems are in urgent need of an upgrade. And under the current electoral system too many voters are simply ignored. No one knows what the rules of our democracy are. They should be set down properly, so that everyone can understand and follow them.

At times of social and political change, we need our democracy to keep pace. Today, we’re all connected to one another, but our democratic system lags far behind the technology and its promise of participation.

To solve the challenges we face, we need to transform democracy to make it fit for the 21st century and to create a political culture that invites people in, rather than puts them off. Parliament and politicians cannot get this done alone. We have to work together, showing how we can make decisions across divides and find solutions that work for everyone.

To do this, we need a special assembly of the people. Learning from examples around the world, we need to bring together a group of citizens, the same way we select juries, and give them the best advice and the space to think through the challenges. Parliament must act on their recommendations.

In the UK, this work has already begun; we have a plan for how to do this and a growing alliance of supporters. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a democratic settlement that works for us all. It’s up to us.

Willie Sullivan, Electoral Reform Society, Dr Wanda Wyporska The Equality Trust, Jonathon Porritt Forum for the Future, Kathy Evans Children England, Georgia Gould Leader, Camden council, Neal Lawson Compass, Alexandra Runswick Unlock Democracy, Klina Jordan Make Votes Matter, Frances Foley Citizens’ Convention on UK Democracy, Richard Sennett Author, Together, Anthony Barnett OpenDemocracy, Jon Alexander New Citizenship Project

ENDS

Notes to Editors

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/nov/04/a-plan-to-fix-britains-broken-democracy

[2] www.uptous.co.uk

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