“Democracy is the right for people to decide how the place where they live is run. For a hundred years this right has built our communities, our society and our sense of justice. But too few people now believe that this right is being honoured, too few believe that they decide and too many believe they are powerless and voiceless. So we call for a new democracy which is ready to help us build for a hundred years to come.” Declaration on Local Democracy
A conference took place in Glasgow on Saturday 23rd of June where several organisations and individuals came together to discuss a new vision of local democracy.
The conference was organised by Our Democracy – a coalition of like minded groups.
Our Democracy wants more control to be devolved down to a local level. At the Conference held in the Mariott Hotel, Glasgow the campaigners launched their ‘Declaration on Local Democracy’.
Keys speakers included Doreen Grove, Head of the Open Government Partnership; Paul Mason, journalist; Linda Somerville, NUS Scotland; Lesley Riddoch, Broadcaster; Kyle Taylor, Fair Vote; Darren ‘Loki’ McGarvey.
Willie Sullivan, Director of the Electoral Reform Society (ERS )Scotland said:
“Scotland is a great teacher about modern politics. The politics here is more open and inclusive than it is in Westminster and we think that is partly to do with better electoral systems. We also know that being better at democracy than Westminster is not getting over a particularly high bar.
“Scotland does not escape the inequality, confusion and precariousness that is fuelling volatility across the globe, which forms the backdrop to the discussions that we will have today. This makes it clear to us that democracy is not only about elections.
“If democracy is about anything it should be about making sure that all communities in Scotland have real power – not just to stop bad things to make good things happen too.
“That democracy is suffering a range of morbid symptoms is beyond question. Today, we want to understand the causes and the cures.
“Democracy develops and is remade in different places for different times. It feels like democracy has gone through a cold period, the depth of that winter is open to debate but there are things happening here and elsewhere that let us plan for better times. The government is consulting on a bill for Scottish local governance and that is a source of optimism.
“We are here to build an unstoppable challenge to the centralised status quo – and to build a democracy fit for the 21st century.”
Amanda Burgauer, Chair of Scottish Rural Action, said:
“It’s so important to have a voice for rural communities across Scotland. At both of the last Rural Parliaments, democracy came up top.
“Scottish government is recognising that reform is needed, and it’s encouraging to see the Community Empowerment Bill starting in the right direction.
“Communities are looking for new ways to have their say.”
“We have learned the lesson of our last hundred years; it is not enough that the future is built, it must be built for us. We must now learn a lesson for our next hundred years; it is not enough that the future is built for us, it must be built by us.” Declaration of Local Democracy