Friday, December 07, 2007

A Scottish Citizens' Convention?

I see that both the Scotsman and the Herald have given reasonable coverage to the debate in Parliament yesterday ... so maybe my uncharacteristic pessimism was misplaced?

Interesting to see that both articles have generated a large number of the usual suspects commenting ... but from my quick scan, no one seems to pick up the issue of arguably, both the National Conversation and the Scottish Constitutional Commission being (primarily) orchestrated by political elites??

I do believe a truly 'Citizen-led' Convention is possible ... and British Columbia proves it has been done elsewhere.

And, indeed, my attention has been helpfully drawn to an existing 'Constitutional Commission' right here in Scotland which is attempting to take a citizen-led approach ...

... in my opinion, all of these current initiatives/proposals could be given a huge boost by the passing of a Citizens' Convention Bill through Holyrood, which would give Parliamentary approval to the setting up of a Citizen-led Convention and would thereafter be impossible to ignore.

None of this is rocket-science, any such Bill (of only 2 clauses) would simply need to read thus:

Scottish Citizens’ Convention Bill (Draft)

1. Scottish Citizens’ Convention

(1) For the purposes of:

(a) modernising the way in which Scotland is governed; and
(b) involving the citizens of Scotland in that process

the Scottish Parliament must within 12 months establish a Scottish Citizens’ Convention.

(2) Before establishing the Scottish Citizens’ Convention the Scottish Parliament must consult citizens of Scotland and without prejudice to the generality this must include community organisations, organisations that have an interest in the governance of Scotland, organisations that have an interest in the environment, business organisations, trade unions and the voluntary sector, regarding the way in which the Convention shall be set up and shall discharge its functions.

(3) In particular the Scottish Parliament must take all reasonable steps to ensure that persons from the most under-represented, disadvantaged and disengaged sections of society are involved in the Convention.

(4) The Convention shall include meetings and other mechanisms to involve citizens in all parts of Scotland.

2. Implementation of recommendations by the Scottish Citizens’ Convention

(1) It shall be the duty of the Scottish Citizens’ Convention to make recommendations to achieve the purposes specified in section 1.

(2) The Scottish Parliament must co-operate with the Convention in deciding upon the implementation of the recommendations made by the Convention.


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