The Commission on Parliamentary Reform presented its report to the Scottish Parliament on 20th June 2017. The report is available HERE. Since November 2016 the Commission has met with and considered the views of over twelve hundred people from across Scotland including MSPs and former MSPs, academics, the third sector and members of the public. The report makes a series of recommendations which collectively will strengthen the Parliament’s scrutiny role and encourage wider engagement and democratic innovation.
This paper (co-authored with Stephen Elstub) introduces a range of democratic innovations known as ‘mini-publics’ and outlines key features, how they work, and how they may improve opportunities for citizens to contribute to parliamentary deliberation.
On 26 October 2016, the independent Commission on Parliamentary Reform was established by the Presiding Officer to look at how the Scottish Parliament can engage better with the people of Scotland and how its work can be improved to deliver better scrutiny.
These are some notes I’ve made to guide my input to the Commission’s evidence session on 25th November 2016. They outline ideas, questions and arguments to inform democratic innovation at the Scottish Parliament.
Click here so see more information about the Commission, how it works and how to contribute.
What Works Scotland and the Scottish Community Development Centre worked together with a range of partners to undertake a full review and refresh of the original standards published in 2005.
The purpose of this review was to ensure that the Standards are ‘fit for purpose’ in the current context with a focus on strengthening citizen participation and community engagement, particularly in the light of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015.
Read more about the review and download the Standards HERE.
In this project, the focus of the Citizens’ Juries discussions will be health inequalities and potential policy responses to these inequalities. We are organising three Citizens’ Juries in Summer 2016, one in Glasgow, one in Liverpool and one in Manchester. Each jury will last two days and will take place in July 2016.
For more information about the project please see our website where we will also post findings and publications in due course.
Democracy is always in the making: a never-ending project that requires constant rethinking and development. There are many ways of understanding and practicing democracy, and this article is concerned with those that put citizens at the heart of democratic life.
My hope is that, in Scotland 44, politics will mean more than party politics, elections and media rituals; and democracy will mean more than representative democracy. Reclaiming and recasting politics and democracy is a core challenge for participatory democrats. The key argument is that citizen participation can reinvigorate democratic life by infusing diversity, experience and knowledge into official decision making. The question is what kind of participation.
Get a free copy of the Scotland 44 e-book HERE
By Oliver Escobar, with photos from Emilio Pérez.Published by Edinburgh Beltane (UK Beacons for Public Engagement).Free PDF HERE.
The rhetoric of dialogue is sometimes adopted rather uncritically in academic, organizational, and policy circles. Too often that rhetoric is deployed with little understanding of the variety of principles and practices enacted in dialogic communication. How can dialogue be conceptualized and distinguished from other forms of communication? On what assumptions is it based? How is communication understood? What does it take to facilitate it? What kinds of processes make it possible? What ideas about democracy underpin it? What kind of changes in academic and policy-making cultures does it call for?
This booklet seeks to speak to people involved in creating public forums for meaningful conversations. In particular, I have taken as imaginary readers those practitioners and students that I have had the fortune to work with. If, with pragmatist and deliberative thinkers, we agree that communication is the very fabric of democratic life, then analysing and improving the quality of communication in the public sphere becomes critical. Understanding dialogic communication helps us to interrogate our public engagement work, the role our research institutions should play in society, and the ways in which we can develop collective capacity to deal with complex problems.