Citizens' Assemblies: The One Revolutionary Policy

Citizens' Assemblies: The One Revolutionary Policy

Valerie Brown is standing for election for London Mayor in May. She has one policy: that there is a legally binding London citizens assembly on how to enact an emergency decarbonisation of the city, along similar assemblies on the other critical issues and challenges faced by everyday Londoners.

This is a revolutionary policy because it does not seek to gain small useless concessions from the political system but to change the system itself. The system itself is corrupt, as so many people now realise. It has to go -if the people are going to regain trust in democracy. For decades now, we have seen conventional politics catastrophically incapable of dealing with the two outstanding crises of our time: the inequality and the climate crises. This is because politicians are caught between the desire of voters for real change and vetoed power of the globalised corporate interests that have no intention of allowing structural change. And they always side with the interests of the rich and powerful. The consequences of this have been disastrous. It has led to a massive disillusionment with “politics” as people stop believing anything can change, or they are attracted to the delusions of security offered by radical right wing parties. Meanwhile, conventional progressive and left wing parties continue to support a political system which has shown itself incapable of creating neither social justice nor climate emergency legislation.

If the human and caring values which have been built up over the past generations are not going to come to nothing in the coming decade, then we have to take a deep breath, and realise it’s either constitutional revolution or certain defeat. The solution is an upgrading of the political system to empower assemblies of ordinary citizens to make key decisions on the direction of our society.

There are two key reasons why Citizens Assemblies will be massively effective in getting us out of the mess we find ourselves in:

First, unlike any other voting system, people are selected randomly from the population. For the first time in history decision makers actually reflect the people themselves. 50% will be women. Minorities will be guaranteed inclusion. Most people will be ordinary working people from all round the country, and the 1% richest and most powerful will only have 1% of the make up. In one stroke, the corruption of excluding the poor and the marginally from power will be removed. And because people are chosen by chance no one will be able to interfere with who gets into power, however much money and influence they have. The rich will lose control.

Second, these assemblies of ordinary people will make decisions on the basis of deliberation – hearing witnesses and engaging in extended small group discussions, with no outside influence or vetoes acting upon them. The “miracle” of this process is that people quickly get to know each other as human beings -not political opponents. They listen and understand each other and through this process come up with solutions that are rooted in the wisdom of hours of discussion. Contrast this with getting a few minutes or even seconds of biased ranting on social media or from the corporate controlled mass media. What these assemblies do then is create decisions based upon the reasoned discussion of people with no other agenda than the common good. And examples over the past 20 years show they come up with decisions which make sense.

Not only do common sense and justice prevail through citizens assemblies but they are seen to prevail through collective action of ordinary people. This creates a new sense of community cohesion and democratic pride. Instead of a careerist politician speaking to the cameras it will be a builder from Birmingham or a care worker from Sheffield. People watching will immediately realise that “these people are like me” and so I will take notice of what they say. This is a beautiful thing. This is what real democracy looks like – rule for the people by the people.
In the great challenges ahead we need a way of doing politics that brings people together to agree on what needs to be done. This is what citizens assemblies do. They are the new Democratic Revolution for the 21st Century.

This is why Valerie deserves your support – to get the word out there...

That we can do it ourselves.

The Climate Situation
is F*cked

Help me to get with the job of sorting it out.