October 2020

CITIZENS’ ASSEMBLY TO SET OUT VISION FOR SCOTLAND’S FUTURE
Friday October 2

Scotland’s first Citizens’ Assembly will tomorrow agree its vision for the future of the country. The broadly representative group of 100 citizens was last year tasked to consider what kind of country we are seeking to build, and will meet online this weekend to set out its response.

The process was put on hold in March due to COVID-19, having already met four times in person. The Assembly will now report to the Scottish Government and Parliament by the end of the year. The group operates independently of Government. At last month’s meeting the Assembly reconvened online and considered the impact of COVID-19 and big ideas for renewal.

The Assembly’s remit is unchanged. Members have been working to develop a shared vision for the future of Scotland, and considered key challenges to building a sustainable country. They have examined Scotland’s finances and taxation, and discussed how decisions are taken for and about Scotland. 

Convener Kate Wimpress said: “The meeting this weekend will see a group of people from all walks of life across Scotland come together to agree a shared vision of our country’s future. It will be a remarkable moment in our national life. The Citizens’ Assembly’s vision for Scotland will help give a roadmap for the country at an uncertain and difficult time. Our members have worked hard together across the months, and it’s exciting to witness their efforts now coming to fruition.”

Susan, a member, said: “We all come from different backgrounds, but we work well together. For me, I hope the assembly can help bring equal opportunities. I feel it’s really important to contribute and for regular people in Scotland to be listened to.”

Benedict, a member, said: “This is absolutely the time to come together once again to strategically reposition Scotland in a changing -- or rather a changed – world.”
A report of the weekend meeting will be published on Friday October 9 and will include the Assembly’s vision of Scotland’s future.
 


7 September 2020

CITIZENS’ ASSEMBLY OF SCOTLAND RESUMES ONLINE AND DISCUSSES IMPACT OF COVID-19 

Scotland’s first Citizens’ Assembly got back up and running on Saturday for the first time since the disruption caused by COVID-19. The broadly representative group of 100 citizens met online and considered how the experience of the pandemic would inform their recommendations on Scotland’s future.

The Assembly considered the impact of COVID and what was important to reflect in the Assembly’s outputs and began work to finalise the first of these outputs - the Assembly’s vision for the future of Scotland two films were screened covering the impact of COVID-19 and big ideas for renewal together with a short presentation on Assembly outputs. These are published on the Assembly’s website, citizensassembly.scot.

The process was put on hold in March due to COVID-19, having already met four times in person. The Assembly will now report to the Scottish Government and Parliament by the end of the year. The group operates independently of Government.

Convener Kate Wimpress said:  “Our members have shown tremendous commitment and determination to do their bit as we’ve moved online. I’m grateful to every one of them. This past weekend’s meeting was about making sure the Assembly’s vision for Scotland speaks to the changed times we live in. We’re back up and running and through the Assembly citizens will now help to set out the roadmap for Scotland at a difficult and uncertain time.”

John, a member, said: “I was a wee bit nervous because this was my first online meeting and I’m not particularly great with technology. But it was great, and I’m really looking forward to the next one.”

Shona, a member, said: “I missed being round the table with everybody. In person you can get that wee bit of feedback from whoever is sitting next to you, whether they agree or disagree with you. But on the whole it was absolutely brilliant and not a problem at all.”

Another member, Aidan, said: “The lay of the land has changed since we last met. There’s a huge obstacle in the road ahead. It’s now clear that we need systemic changes, in healthcare, social policy, employment, and protection of the vulnerable. I’ve seen it first-hand through the pandemic. People are living different lives.”


4 September 2020

RETURNING CITIZENS’ ASSEMBLY OF SCOTLAND TO DISCUSS IMPACT OF COVID-19 
Friday September 4

Scotland’s first Citizens’ Assembly will reconvene on Saturday for the first time since the disruption caused by COVID-19. The impact of the pandemic will be top of the agenda as the broadly representative group of 100 citizens meets online and begins to reach its recommendations on Scotland’s future.

The group operates independently of Government and was due to make recommendations on Scotland’s future in June. The process was put on hold in March due to COVID-19, having already met four times in person. The Assembly will now report to the Scottish Government and Parliament by the end of the year.

The Assembly’s remit is unchanged. Members have made substantial progress in developing a shared vision for the future of Scotland, and considered key challenges to building a sustainable country. They have examined Scotland’s finances and taxation, and discussed how decisions are taken for and about Scotland. 

The interim report of the Assembly was published last month. It included the values that members suggested are important to a vision for the future of the country and identified three broad areas of focus: fair work and taxation; a greener Scotland; and improvements to  citizens’ information and decision making processes.  

The report and a set of articles and videos summarising the work to date can be found at www.CitizensAssembly.scot. There are also articles and videos about the impact of COVID-19 on Scotland’s economy, public finances, society, environment and constitutional outlook.

Convener Kate Wimpress said:  “I’m grateful to our members for their continued commitment to finishing their vital work as we move online. The pandemic brings huge challenges and this weekend’s meeting is about making sure the Assembly’s vision for the country takes account of our new reality. This is a chance for citizens to set out a roadmap for Scotland at a difficult and uncertain time.”
 
One member, Lynsay, said: “Moving online is a new way of working. Technology is bringing a new aspect to the Assembly. I want to finish the work we started. I love that the Assembly is a chance for politicians and government to hear from us. It’s a big opportunity for us members.”

Another member, Tommy, said: “I’m excited to get going again to finish the work we started.”


February 2020

CITIZENS’ ASSEMBLY MEMBERS HAVE THEIR SAY ON BUILDING A SUSTAINABLE SCOTLAND 
 
Improving the tax system, investing in energy efficient technology and implementing a 30-year National Plan to which all politicians should adhere, were some of the key priorities for action identified by the Citizens’ Assembly when it deliberated on a sustainable future for Scotland. 
 
The 100+ members who attended the third working weekend of six, worked on a statement they had devised and strongly supported; how to “build a sustainable country where we balance environmental, economic and social impact for the good of the country and its citizens.”  

Measures to combat climate change, fairer employment and improved public transport were also among the 14 priorities suggested. 

The members, randomly selected from throughout the country and broadly representative of Scotland as a whole, split into 14 groups to discuss and deliberate upon actions that would be required to achieve their sustainability aims. This followed on from three information sessions enabling the members to gain a deeper understanding on the topics and aspects for consideration.
 
Leading Academics from the University of Strathclyde and University College London led the first session discussing the constitution, before politicians from four major parties focused on how citizens can be more effectively involved in decision making. In the third session Assembly members heard from Sandy Begbie CBE, Dr Katherine Trebeck and Dr Andy Kerr who outlined actions and hard choices that need to be made in order to build a sustainable Scotland, in terms of the economy, the environment and across society. 
 
Discussions around trust in politics was raised widely, with one group suggesting the formulation of a long-term National Plan for politicians to support, aimed at delivering a sustainable country that balanced environment, economic, and social impact for the good of the country, regardless of party positions.
 
The most common theme identified by the Assembly was the establishment of a new and fairer tax model that would support the sustainable country we want to build. 
 
Citizens’ Assembly Convener Kate Wimpress said: “The outcomes of Weekend 3 really show where common ground is being reached among members, particularly around introducing more progressive taxation and looking for commitment from politicians on delivering long-term policy.
 
“It is clear that in order to build a sustainable country hard choices and trade-offs are required, but the Citizens’ Assembly is showing that people can come together to deliberate on difficult issues and work towards solutions with meaningful impact.”
 
The first Citizens’ Assembly of Scotland, established in 2019, has reached the halfway stage. It is a model for doing politics differently, exploring how citizens can be effectively involved in reaching agreement and making recommendations on the future of the country. 
 
Members gave feedback following their third working weekend. 
 
One Assembly member said: “It was empowering for me as a Scottish citizen to see that the politicians were actually listening to us. They were being influenced by what we were saying, and not the other way around for a change!”
 
Another said: “I think the information we heard today needs to go out to the public. I thought it was really concerning for me to hear, as a younger person, that I haven’t got, potentially, a great future. If I have children or grandchildren there’s a huge issue to do with climate change that could impact my future. It was just really shocking. Attitudes need to change towards it.”
 
Weekend three was held at the Golden Jubilee Hotel in Clydebank from 17-19 January. All of the materials from the weekend and previous weekends are now published on the Assembly website www.citizensassembly.scot together with a recording of the plenary sessions. The next meeting of the Assembly will be held on the 21-23 February 2020.
 
The final meeting of the Citizens’ Assembly will take place in April this year and its report and recommendations will be published shortly thereafter. The Scottish Government has committed to a debate in parliament and preparing an action plan responding to the recommendations. 
 


20 January 2020

CITIZENS’ ASSEMBLY OF SCOTLAND REACHES HALFWAY STAGE

 
The first-ever Citizens Assembly of Scotland has now reached the halfway stage, with the third of six work weekends having taken place at the Golden Jubilee Hotel in Clydebank from 17-19 January. 
 
Climate change, building stronger communities, political trust and the economy were amongst the challenges discussed, as the 100 members were joined by academic advisers, a politicians panel and expert panelists to discuss priorities for Scotland after the General Election and the challenges and opportunities in delivering a priority members identified in the previous Assembly weekend - to “build a sustainable country where we balance environmental, economic and social impact for the good of the country and its citizens.”  
 
The session with the invited panel of politicians,  Angela Constance MSP (SNP), Jamie Halcro Johnston MSP (Con), Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard MSP and Lorna Slater (Scottish Greens co-leader), ranged widely across the policy challenges and opportunities for Scotland, with substantial discussion focused on how politics can be done differently and citizens can be more effectively involved in taking decisions. 
 
The Assembly heard from three experts from different sectors who outlined some of the actions and hard choices that need to be made in order to build a sustainable Scotland. 
 
Sandy Begbie CBE, Chief Transformation Officer of Tesco Bank, Prof Andy Kerr, Director of the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation, and Dr Katherine Trebeck, Knowledge and Policy Lead of the Wellbeing Economy Alliance, discussed the challenges and opportunities for Scotland in building a sustainable society. 
 
This included how to build a fairer and more balanced economy, which prioritises new and sustainable industries and directing policymaking, taxation and public spending to tackle the urgent challenge of climate change and to meet the wider needs of communities. 
 
Members continued these discussions over the course of the weekend to develop and discuss a set of actions they consider to be most important, including identifying hard choices and trade-offs that will be important in taking these forward. 
 
In discussion with academic advisers, the Assembly also began to explore where power lies to take these actions, including constitutional issues, in order to inform the recommendations of the Assembly.  
 
These proposed actions will be published in the coming weeks in order to promote wider public discussion. The Assembly will continue to work on these actions and to explore how politics can change to better enable the right decisions are taken for the future of the country.  
 
Citizens’ Assembly Convener Kate Wimpress is delighted with the progress made so far and believes it is on track to deliver on its remit. She said: 
 
“The Citizens Assembly is aimed at doing politics differently. It’s about real people finding ways of working together on difficult issues concerning Scotland’s future by engaging in informed and respectful deliberation and finding ways to move forward together. This weekend was a turning point for the Assembly, with a clear agenda emerging as we start to move towards a report and recommendations.  
 
“Once again 100 citizens from all over Scotland have given their time and energy to help shape the future of Scotland. The dedication shown by these citizens and their commitment to learn about complex issues, to listen respectfully to and work collaboratively with their fellow Assembly members is extraordinary and I am incredibly proud to be part of this journey with them.”
 
Kate added: 
 
“Citizens’ Assemblies have been run successfully in other countries, but this is a first for Scotland. We are seeing members growing in confidence, question experts fully and use this knowledge alongside their life experience in focussed deliberation. Our Assembly members are clearly mapping out how citizens can be involved directly in decision-making about things that matter to them most.”
 
During weekend three members also heard from Dr Alan Renwick, Deputy Director of the Constitution Unit from the University College London and Dr Christopher McCorkindale, Senior Lecturer of Law at University of Strathclyde, who gave presentations on constitutional issues after the General Election and provided wider support to members in considering where power lies in relation to the actions the Assembly discussed on building a sustainable country.  
 
The Citizens Assembly is committed to transparency. Plenary sessions were livestreamed on its social media channels and the media were invited to join the sessions and speak to the members. 
 
A report of the key findings from weekend three will be compiled and posted on the Citizens’ Assembly of Scotland website prior to weekend four.  All of the materials prepared for the weekend are on the Assembly website and outputs from the weekend meeting will also be posted there in the next few days . The Assembly website is www.citizensassembly.scot. 
 
The sixth and final weekend of the Citizens Assembly will take place in April this year and its report and recommendations will be published shortly thereafter. The Scottish Government has committed to a debate in parliament and preparing an action plan responding to the recommendations. 
 


17 January 2020

CITIZENS’ ASSEMBLY OF SCOTLAND DISCUSSES THE DIRECTION OF THE COUNTRY WITH LEADING POLITICIANS AND HOW TO BUILD A SUSTAINABLE SCOTLAND 
 
 
The Assembly reaches its halfway mark with its third meeting at the Golden Jubilee Hotel in Clydebank from 17-19 January. It will consider two main topics.
 
First, in discussion with leading politicians, the Assembly will consider priorities for the direction of the country following the general election. How do we move forward together in a constructive way despite our different views on Scotland’s constitutional future? 
 
Second, the Assembly will explore how to build a sustainable Scotland and the hard choices that need to be tackled. Last month, members decided that a key priority for the Assembly was to “build a sustainable country where we balance environmental, economic and social impact for the good of the country and its citizens.”  
 
A panel of politicians from four of the political parties represented in the parliament will discuss priorities for Scotland following the General Election. How can we do politics differently, so that despite our differing views on Scotland’s constitutional future we can move forward constructively? Panel members expected are Angela Constance MSP (SNP), Jamie Halcro Johnston MSP (Con), Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard MSP and Lorna Slater (Scottish Greens co-leader).
 
The Assembly will also undertake detailed consideration of issues around building a sustainable Scotland. Evidence will be given by three recognised experts, Sandy Begbie CBE, Dr Katherine Trebeck and Dr Andy Kerr.
 
Citizens’ Assembly convener Kate Wimpress has welcomed the important agenda for the weekend. 
 
She said: 
 
“The Citizen’s Assembly represents a new approach to involving people in discussions about the future of the country. Meeting now shortly after the General Election is a really important time for the Assembly to take stock of the state of our politics and to ensure the voice of citizens is heard on the big issues for the future of the country. I am delighted that we are being joined by leading politicians and recognised experts for these important discussions. 
 
 
“The Assembly was founded to engage citizens in informed and respectful discussion of key issues for the future of the country, to ensure citizens voices are heard and to show that it is possible to find agreement and move forward on difficult issues, including around the constitution. Everyone involved to date can see the positive progress that we have made and this weekend is a great time for Assembly members to discuss how we move forward after the general election with leading politicians.” 
 
Kate continued: 
 
“The Assembly is a really important innovation which already is demonstrating the power of deliberative democracy in enabling citizens to work through complex issues to find agreement. By the time we complete our work in April, we will be ready to bring forward a wide range of recommendations that show a way forward for Scottish politics and how we discuss difficult challenges. This weekend is a significant milestone for Assembly members and politicians to begin to start to explore these themes.”
 
The Assembly is scheduled to deliver its report to the Scottish Government in May 2020.  
 


December 2019

CITIZENS’ ASSEMBLY OF SCOTLAND FORGES NEW PATH FOR A DIFFERENT KIND OF POLITICS

Scotland’s Citizens’ Assembly represents a new approach to involving people in discussions about the future of the country, according to Convener Kate Wimpress. 

She was speaking on the publication day (Friday) of the summary report from the second of six weekend-long Assembly sittings. This was held from 29 November – 2 December at the Golden Jubilee Conference Hotel, Clydebank.  

The weekend was focused on preparing a response to the first question in the Assembly’s remit – what kind of country are we seeking to build?  Members created over 350 individual vision statements, then worked together to agree a shorter set of statements to capture the breadth and diversity of views across the Assembly. Finally, the Members deliberated to set out the common ground on priorities for their vision for the future of the country.  The Assembly will begin the process of exploring, in detail, some of the challenges associated with these priorities at future Assembly meetings.  

Citizens’ Assembly Convener Kate Wimpress said: 

“The General Election has changed the political map of the country, with the twin issues of Brexit and an independence referendum continuing to dominate political agendas.   The election laid bare the divisions that exist across our society, and there is a need to find new ways for people to come together to discuss the future, to understand their differing views, and discuss choices in an informed and respectful way.  We need to seek common ground to help move us forward together and, as far as possible, in accord.  The Assembly is providing a roadmap on how we can do that.
Kate added: 
“The weekend produced lively debate amongst and between members and as expected brought up different perspectives and contradictory views about our priorities and the best way forward for the country.
“However we have striven to establish a positive and supportive environment where members are able to discuss issues respectfully and constructively, difficult as that can sometimes be. Members have told us they value the opportunity to be involved in this way and feel they are beginning to make real progress, together, in understanding and facing the challenges and opportunities for our country.”
Members’ discussions were supported by presentations given by George Bangham from the Resolution Foundation and Dr Elke Heins of Edinburgh University, which explored a range of issues around wellbeing and the role of values in decision-making. These presentations built on evidence provided in weekend 1 around constitutional issues and the demography of Scotland. 

A member of the Assembly said:

“I was taken with how everyone seemed to suspend their judgements, and took the chance to understand, even accept the others more, despite the to-be-expected disagreements on certain topics. This requires compassion, patience, and a good heart, and I would say that we achieved more understanding than separation. I think there was some big learning for many of us.”
 
Another member added:

“So far so good. This session has gone pretty well, it has been very intense and we’re now finding our level in the whole process.” 

More information on the Citizens’ Assembly of Scotland and reports and materials from the weekend sessions so far, including the second weekend summary report, can be found on www.citizensassembly.scot  


October 2019

Citizens’ Assembly of Scotland to hold first meeting in Edinburgh this weekend 


The first meeting of the Citizens’ Assembly of Scotland is being held this weekend 26-27 October with 100 people taking part in a unique project that will help shape Scotland’s constitutional future.

The Assembly, convened by David Martin and Kate Wimpress, has recruited people from across Scotland  who are representative of  the wider public as a whole to consider:
o    What kind of country are we seeking to build?
o    How can we best overcome the challenges the challenges that Scotland and the world faces, including those arising from Brexit?
o    What further work should be carried out to give people the detail they need to make informed choices about the future of the country?

The members were recruited through a process of random selection to broadly reflect the adult population of Scotland in terms of geography, age, gender, ethnic group, educational qualifications, limiting long term conditions/disability and political attitudes towards Scottish independence, the UK’s membership of the EU and Scottish Parliament voting preferences. 

Over the course of six weekends, members will undertake a process of learning and discussion in order to come up with a range of conclusions and recommendations in response to the three questions in the remit.  

These conclusions and recommendations will be set out in a report to the Government and the Parliament and the Government will prepare a plan setting out how they will respond to those Assembly recommendations that have been agreed by the Parliament. 

Kate Wimpress, Convener of the Citizens’ Assembly of Scotland said: “The Assembly is something new for Scotland, and it should be a crucial role in embedding a wider participatory agenda into the way we do government. 

“This focus on participation is something that has been established since the opening of the Scottish Parliament and successive governments have looked for ways of involving the public in opportunities to influence the decisions that affect their lives and their communities. By 
the end of this first weekend members will be starting to think about the outlook for the country and how we might be affected by constitutional change. We are at the beginning of journey that allows for us to learn from combined efforts of Assembly members.”

The Conveners have agreed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Scottish Government setting out the arrangements in place to allow the Assembly to deliver on its remit independently.

Convener David Martin said: “The Assembly is a forum for open-minded deliberation between participants that is fully open to public scrutiny to help ensure that it receives an open-minded response from the Parliament and Government. 

“Citizens’ Assemblies are increasingly being used successfully across the world to bring people together to work on complex and contentious issues. It’s an exciting time for democracy in Scotland. We are looking forward to Saturday and building on our proud democratic traditions and successful record in public participation.”
 


August 2019

Citizens’ Assembly of Scotland announces 
launch of member recruitment drive 

The Conveners of the Citizens’ Assembly of Scotland, Scotland’s Constitutional Future, today (27 August 2019) announced the exercise to recruit members for Scotland’s first Citizens’ Assembly is now underway.

The Assembly, convened by David Martin and Kate Wimpress, will randomly recruit more than 100 members, aged 16 and over, who are broadly representative of the adult population in Scotland today. Their role will be to attend the Assembly’s six weekend-long meetings to consider a range of evidence relevant to Scotland’s constitutional future and to agree, shape, and contribute to discussion and develop a formal list of recommendations in a report to the Scottish Government. 

The members, intended to be a ‘mini-public’, will be profiled against a range of criteria to ensure they are broadly representative according to geography, age, gender, ethnic group, educational qualifications, limiting long term conditions/disability and political attitudes towards Scottish independence, the UK’s membership of the EU and Scottish Parliament voting preferences.

Recruiters will sample locations across Scotland, visiting households selected at random in each area. Occupants will be taken through a questionnaire to assess their eligibility and willingness to become Assembly members. In line with the Assembly’s commitment to transparency, the names and home regions of members will be made public.

Kate Wimpress, Convener of the Citizens’ Assembly of Scotland said: “The Assembly is a milestone democratic process for Scotland and for me it is a privilege to be able to be a part of it. We hope the public feel the same way. Indeed, we have had many people get in touch already to volunteer, however, it is essential the member base is as representative of modern Scotland as possible, so we have taken a robust approach to recruitment.”

Convener David Martin continues: “Member recruitment is the first major step in the Assembly’s work and our approach will be thorough and transparent. The process is now underway and across Scotland a broad range of people will be getting a knock at the door over the coming weeks. We hope they take the opportunity to listen and consider taking a role in shaping the discussion on Scotland’s constitutional future.”

More information on the Citizens’ Assembly of Scotland and the member recruitment process can be found on www.citizensassembly.scot