Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Unlock Democracy's Campaign for a Citizen's Convention

Unlock Democracy is a campaigning body resulting from the merger of Charter 88 and the New Politics Network. Charter 88 did much to put constitutional reform on the agenda-Devolution, FOI and the HRA- during the dog days of the 1980s and 90s. Its present campaign is to campaign for an elected panel to act as an alternative 'jury' on such reforms, taking evidence all over the country and establishing a genuine connection with voters.

I support the initiative because:

1.It's a positive step at the right time. In the wake of the expenses scandal there has been much disillusion, anger and talk of reform. Yet suggestions made some weeks ago seem to have faded along with the initial momentum.

2. It would represent an alternative to the 'establishment' attempts to reform our ailing political system.

3. The current system is discredited and an alternative approach offers advantages.

4. Gordon has offered some initiatives like his attampt to kick off a 'conversation' with the nation and his constitutional reform proposals back in June 2007 which have mostly come to nothing. Before that we had the 1998 5000 strong People's Panel, through incompetence and lack of political will, a complete damp squib which which was wound up in 2002.

5. I like the idea of a representative panel taking evidence rather than a retired civil servant issuing sonorous platitudes as the prelude to doing very little. I've been studying the political process for over forty years and have lost so much faith in its fundamental good faith, let alone its efficacy.

Realistically, however, I don't expect MPs to support the embryonic bill: it probably sounds too radical and alternative and suggests the convening of an elected body which MPs wuld probably see as a rival rather than an ally. More's the pity.

If Brown has done it five or six years ago we would have said great, it's to late now, trying to save his neck by changing the out come now, it's not on. he had his chance.
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