Friday, 19 September 2014

Greens call for a People's Constitutional Convention following revolutionary levels of engagement in Independence Referendum

Votes at 16 Campaign reaction the day after
From the Green Party of England and Wales

Following the defeat of the “Yes” campaign in the Scottish referendum on independence, the Green Party would like to congratulate all those who were involved in mounting such an inspirational ‘Yes’ campaign.

The ‘Yes’ campaign has played a vital role in throwing-open questions about the support for our current constitutional settlement – questions that will not go away simply because of a defeat for the “Yes” campaign. The debate triggered by the referendum has illustrated how people across the country have been left feeling unrepresented and neglected by Westminster policies and politics.

It is clear that the “business as usual” approach to politics favoured by the three main parties is no longer resonating with the voting electorate.

There is now a real opportunity to mount a serious reassessment of our political system – including a debate over the introduction of a written Constitutional Convention and Bill of Rights.

Natalie Bennett, Green Party leader, said:
I congratulate the 'yes' campaigners in their positive, hopeful campaign that attracted so many to a message of real change. Despite the result, however, it is clear that real, significant constitutional change is now certain - in Scotland, and the rest of the UK.

The Coalition Parties and Labour have promised the people of Scotland 'devo-max', and many 'no' voters will have made their choice on that promise. They have to deliver on that; and those changes will also mean there has to be political change in other parts of the UK, and particularly at the Westminster parliament.

Long overdue political reform is clearly now on the public agenda. The kind of party stitch-up that saw Lords reform fall apart in this parliament cannot be allowed.

It's nearly 100 years since we had significant constitutional reform in Westminster - when women got the vote. We cannot afford for the future of our democracy to get to that anniversary in 1918 without significant change.
Yesterday Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion write this Open Letter to Messrs Cameron, Clegg and Miliband:
Whatever the outcome of today’s referendum about the future governance of Scotland, there seems to be a strong consensus that nothing will ever quite be the same again. People in Scotland have been granted their right to be heard and have used the opportunity to imagine all kinds of positive futures.
Alongside the official Yes and No campaigns, we have seen the growth of genuine grassroots movements, giving everyone a voice. Across the nation, people previously disengaged from formal politics have been passionately debating what matters to them – all because they have a decision to make in which their individual vote really will influence the outcome.

For many of these people, voting had previously become merely an exercise in democracy rather than true democracy – casting a vote made little tangible difference to the outcome of elections, let alone their day to day lives.  The referendum has newly enfranchised them because every vote counts.  It’s also invited a whole new generation of young people to shape their own futures.

We have a unique opportunity, at this point in our history, to learn from what has happened during the referendum campaign. To recognise that behind the ever declining turn out in General Elections, especially amongst young people, the disillusionment and distrust, there is another story. One in which people are not disengaged from politics, simply from a political system that is not good at listening, that conspires to keep people relatively powerless and is designed to protect the interests of a small, self-interested and wealthy elite.

You did a brave and bold thing, ceding some of your power via a referendum.
You have also made promises, in the event of a No vote, to devolve more powers to Scotland – a welcome move that that has wider implications. The next steps must not be decided without full and proper consultation with everyone affected.

So I hope you will be braver still and demonstrate a genuine commitment to democracy by supporting calls for a People’s Constitutional Convention. A Convention to explore, discuss, debate and inspire. To tackle the democratic crisis that has left far too many people feeling unrepresented, neglected and alienated by Westminster.

A continuation of the conversation that has begun in Scotland – and England and Wales and Northern Ireland – about a fairer voting system, an elected House of Lords, job sharing for MPs, lowering the voting age, giving local communities and local authorities more power, including via local referenda and citizens initiatives, more regional government and total recall for elected politicians.

It’s an idea that’s already being championed the Electoral Reform Society, Open Democracy, Compass, Involve, Democratic Audit and the chairman of House of Commons’ Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, amongst others.

Above all, it would demonstrate a genuine commitment to real democracy and embody the principle that power flows upwards from the people, not down from a centralised state. Scotland has shown that this is the way to build engagement in the decisions that affect all of our lives – by respecting, trusting and listening. This is also the way to give people hope again.

I hope you will join me in supporting a People’s Constitutional Convention as the way forward.
A petition calling for A People's Constitutional Convention is now up on the Change.Org website LINK

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