How recruitment worked
Key decisions about the approach to member recruitment were taken by the Scottish Government drawing on advice from experts and international good practice. Member recruitment was undertaken by independent contractor, Mark Diffley Consultancy and Research Ltd (now the Diffley Partnership), following a competitive tendering exercise. An Advisory Group, which included researchers from the Scottish Government and National Records of Scotland was established to oversee the recruitment process and ensure it met the highest possible standards, including in relation to the profile of membership and methodology.
The main requirements were that there should be over 100 Assembly members who should be broadly representative of the wider adult population in terms of socio-demographic characteristics, geographical location and political attitudes.
The eligibility criteria for membership were:
- Eligible to vote under the Scottish Government’s proposed franchise for Scottish Parliament and local government elections as set out in its Electoral Reform Consultation in 2017
- Available and willing to attend all six meetings of the Citizens’ Assembly
In addition, members should not be:
- Elected or appointed representatives (including MSPs, MPs, MEPs, Councillors and Members of the House of Lords)
- Staff or officers of political parties
- A public appointee or senior public or civil servant whose job restricts them from participating in political activity
- A participant in a market research discussion group or focus group in the last 6 months
Consideration was given as to whether it was appropriate to try to exclude individuals on the basis of their membership of certain lobby or pressure groups. However, the decision was taken that as the remit was so wide it would be very difficult to appropriately identify which types of groups would be relevant. Instead members were asked to confirm that they were participating as an individual and not as a representative of any organisation.
The following socio-demographic variables were selected to determine the profile of members:
- Ethnic group
- Educational qualifications
- Limiting long term conditions/disability
- Attitudes towards Scottish independence and the UK’s membership of the EU
- Scottish Parliament voting preferences
The expected and achieved profile, including data sources and recruitment methodology, is described in detail in a report prepared by the contractors and published here.
In recognition of likely changes over the course of the Assembly, in particular the possibility of members being unable to continue for any reason, 120 members were initially recruited following visits to around 10,500 households across Scotland. Over the course of the Assembly circumstances did change for some members. However, over 100 members continued attending to the end of the Assembly. This high level of participation is above all a testament to members’ commitment to the work of the Assembly. The support provided by the Convener and Secretariat is also likely to have been important. It is notable that Covid-19 and the break in the Assembly generally served to reinforce members’ determination to see the process through to the end.
"What an amazing team of people and to me they truly represented that disparate nature that is modern Scotland that is its people."