About the Project
The award-winning Citizens' Assembly project originated in a conversation between a diverse group of organisations and individuals who felt that a more deliberative approach to democratic reform was both desirable and useful. Meanwhile, the question of ‘where power lies’ has become a major issue in British politics.
These developments prompted the Electoral Reform Society to come together with academics from the University of Sheffield, the University of Southampton, the University of London and the University of Westminster to put in place a process to facilitate renewed civic engagement on such central constitutional questions.
"This launch marks the start of a very exciting democratic project to get citizens involved in the democratic future of their cities and indeed the UK. A year on from the Scottish referendum, it’s more vital than ever that the public – particularly in England – have a say on where they think power should lie in Britain."
Katie Ghose (Electoral Reform Society)
Supported by a team of experts from previous Canadian, Irish and Scottish assemblies, the pilots drew on cutting edge research into democratic theory and were the first of their kind in the UK. The main aim of these assemblies is to contribute not only to the many public conversations about constitutional reform, but also make a significant contribution to the future possibilities for deliberative and participatory democracy in the UK.
"These Assemblies could pave the way for a future UK-wide Constitutional Convention, and they are a real opportunity to mould the devolution agenda so that it genuinely involves citizens and puts democracy at the heart."
Matt Flinders (University of Sheffield)
I welcome this effort to give English voters the opportunity to discuss where power should lie to decide things affecting their lives. There has been much more debate about this in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. All four parts of the UK need a proper constitutional settlement and finding out what people think about devolution and democracy is a really important part of the process.
My committee is also promoting a fuller and more open conversation about the future government of our four nations, in the hope of better defining what we have in common, and how shared government should be organised. We look forward to hearing the results of your discussions. Thank you for taking the time to get involved.
Bernard Jenkin MP
Chair, Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC)
“I believe that citizens should be free to determine their own how they are governed and these Assemblies are fantastic for kicking off that conversation.”
Graham Allen MP
Labour, Nottingham North
Former Chair of the Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee
“Too often, political commentators assume a growing public disenchantment with democracy. These assemblies aim to turn this assumption on its head. They will give everyday Britons the chance to learn about and play a meaningful role in changing how decisions are made about them."
Former MP Labour, Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough
"I am extremely pleased to be backing Citizens’ Assembly North; it puts the idea of local people having a say into practice."
The late Labour MP Harry Harpham
Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough
"The ‘Democracy Matters’ project provides a great opportunity for citizens to get involved in the political process. We need to constantly find new ways of engaging people in the big political questions that affect their lives.
Royston Smith MP
Conservative, Southampton Itchen
Last year's independence referendum demonstrated that there is a huge pool of untapped interest in politics amongst the public - the key to awakening it is ensuring that people know that their views matter on important issues. We in Scotland must not allow the current record levels of political engagement to dissipate. The Democracy Matters Citizen's Assembly initiative is a good way of ensuring we maintain and build on high levels of participation. As well as this, public participation in policy formulation inherently improves the process and requires service delivery to be more responsive.
Tommy Sheppard MP
SNP, Edinburgh East