Brexit: Unheard Voices & A Citizens’ Assembly

BrexitIn case anyone has forgotten with all the distractions of a Tory leadership election parading across our screens,  the UK is still on course to leave the EU on October 31st 2019 and it could very well be a no deal, otherwise known as a hard Brexit.

Last year the Scottish Government launched a Brexit stakeholder fund which spent £141,711 allowing groups of people (13) to record their views on what leaving the EU will mean to them. The report has now been published: Brexit: unheard voices – views from stakeholders across Scotland on leaving the EU

The organisations and groups which took advantage of this opportunity were:

  1. Scottish Rural Action
  2. Children in Scotland
  3. My Life My Say
  4. Midlothian Voluntary Action
  5. Voluntary Action South Lanarkshire
  6. Citizens’ Rights Project
  7. YouthLink Scotland
  9. Royal Scottish National Orchestra
  10. Scottish Islands Federation
  11. Perth and Kinross Action Voluntary Service
  12. SCVO (Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations)
  13. SCDI ( Scottish Council for Development and Indsutry)

It will come as no surprise that the groups, which range from working with the young to the very old; people on low incomes; and minority groups,  all expressed great concern and many fears about the UK leaving the EU.

A variety of events were held by these groups to gather views and this report will now be used by the Scottish Government to attempt to address some of the concerns raised.

One of the key outcomes is  the establishment of a Citizens’ Assembly

What is a Citizen’s Assembly ?

The Scottish Government is setting up a Citizen’s Assembly most likely to be chaired by ex Labour MEP David Martin.

Finding a company to randomly select the 120 citizens who will sit in this assembly has been put out to tender. More information about that here: Public Contracts Scotland

citizens assembly

The randomly selected citizens have been tasked with considering 3 broad issues:

  • what kind of country should Scotland be
  • how can Scotland best overcome challenges, including those arising from Brexit
  • what further work is required to enable people to make informed choices about the future of Scotland

The chosen 120 will be announced in September and will convene in an Assembly over 6 weekends until Spring 2020.

Travel, accommodation and other reasonable costs, such as child care, will  be covered for those attending as well as a ‘gift’ payment of £200 for each weekend.

MSPs, MPs, MEPs, councillors and members of the House of Lords, political party staff, public appointees and senior public and civil servants will be ineligible to sit on the Assembly, as will representatives and officials of relevant advocacy groups.

Citizens Assemblies have been used in other countries but also in the UK. The most recent one in the UK was held in England and its focus was on social care in England. That Citizens’ Assembly only met over 2 weekends and discussions were led by a facilitator. Members heard from a selected group of expert contributors and then discussed the issues in small groups. They voted on and ranked various options for the delivery of social care in England. This was then fed into the overall report of  UK Parliament committees.

Ireland has a Citizens’ Assembly with 100 members. Here is a wee fact sheet explaining a bit more about it: Citizens Assembly Fact Sheet June 2018

It also has a YouTube channel because its meetings are livestreamed.

The intention is that a Citizens’ Assembly can discuss issues in more detail and without the party political bias that occurs in parliamentary situations. It is hoped that this will mean it  will reach a point of consensus reflecting the views of the population.

Reporter: Fiona Grahame

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7 replies »

  1. Can’t come soon enough.

    My family in Ireland think the introduction of a ‘Citizens Assembly’ is the best thing since sliced bread, but you know how we Irish love the ‘craic’ especially about politics and current affairs.

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  3. There was a programme on the television yesterday evening, called ‘Our Next Prime Minister.” Just the title set me off.
    So, we are to have another PM who has not been voted in by the general public. How long is it since Britain has had a PM who was voted in, in a General Election?
    This ‘next PM’ is going to be placed in position, by a small group of rich Tories, who want to pay less taxes!
    And how is this relevant to the idea of a Citizens’ Assembly? Our voices are not being heard, and maybe, through a Citizens’ Assembly, they might be.

    Never mind another Tory PM put in place by other Tories – how about
    1) A General Election – so the person in charge, has actually been chosen by the people.
    2) A new leader who realises that Brexit is simply a bad idea, and drops it.
    3) Scottish independence with a Citizens’ Assembly, so that, if England gets itself in this kind of mess, and allows it to continue, again, at least Scotland will be well out of it.

    There, I’ve got that off my chest. “Our next Prime Minister” – what a load of baloney.
    I think ‘Have I Got News For You’ has a lot to answer for – they made Boris appear likeable. He isn’t.

    • Bernie, I agree with all above except for last bit. Let me ask, have you read ‘Private Eye’ on a regular basis? If you have you will know Iain has little time for the clown!!!

  4. Ey up Charlie – I used to read Private Eye regularly, many years ago. Now, as my eyes get tired easily, I have to ‘ration’ my reading to things I really want to read. Thank goodness, TON doesn’t tire my eyes so quickly!
    I can imagine Ian Hislop’s view of Boris – as Mr Hislop doesn’t suffer fools, or bad behaviour, gladly. In fact, he does throw out a few lines, along those lines, on HIGNFY.
    At the time though, it was all very jolly and matey – they did set Boris up for a fall, sometimes, but the general atmosphere was amiable, and…I do think it made Boris appear likeable.
    It’s possible that Ian Hislop and Paul Merton now wish they never had him on the programme.
    It’s something I wonder about – who chooses the guests and, more importantly, the ‘Chair’ – they had Jeremy Clarkson in the Chair one time!!!!!!!
    Sometimes, it’s worth it, as they show themselves up, but I have a bit of a thing about not wanting to ‘spend time’ with people through the telly, that I wouldn’t want to spend time with, in reality.
    On her Twitter, Jackie Morris tells of meeting a woman journalist at BBC Radio 4, who described Boris as ‘charismatic’.

    “Utterly astonished by woman at @BBCRadio4 excited to see Boris Johnson and telling me how charismatic he is. If you find a racist bully who uses language to exclude and writes sex scenes to make your toes curl then I feel a bit sorry for you. #understatement #bewildered”

    Personally, I distrust charm, as it usually smacks of restless genitals, as is the case with Bonking Boris.
    I’m joking, but, heaven help us all – he might be the next Prime Minister – he just might – restless genitals an’ all. What a wonderful example to the young!

    • Bernie must have been on one of the programs I missed, thankfully, as TV might not have survived.

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