Convener's Blog 23 February 2021
It is in reflective mood that I pen the final blog post. I’ve used this blog to share my thoughts on The Citizens Assembly of Scotland’s work and learning every step of the way along our journey. As our work draws to a close I have been very encouraged to see the Assembly report, published in January, welcomed so warmly by politicians, journalists and the wider public alike.
The Assembly report sets out the vision and recommendations agreed by an overwhelming consensus of members. The recommendations cover a wide range of areas including future citizens’ assemblies, incomes and poverty, tax and the economy, health and wellbeing, support for young people, sustainability and further powers for the Scottish Parliament.
Following the report’s publication, Assembly members met, virtually, to discuss their vision and the 60 recommendations with ministers from the Scottish Government, including the Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, Europe and External Affairs, Michael Russell, and a number of other ministers.
Assembly members also shared reflections in a virtual meeting with journalists from The Herald, The Daily Record, Holyrood Magazine and the Financial Times. I was interviewed on STV’s flagship politics program Scotland Tonight to discuss the launch of the report.
On the 15th February, the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Futures Forum held an event, convened by the Presiding Officer, Ken McIntosh MSP, which brought together members of the Assembly, a political panel and a number of MSPs to discuss and consider the vision and recommendations of the Assembly ahead of the Parliamentary debate.
And that Parliamentary debate was held soon after on the 18th February 2021 and you can see the discussions here. MSPs welcomed the Assembly’s shared vision and 60 recommendations for the country’s future ahead of an action plan on the Assembly’s findings. The action plan will be published by the next Scottish Government with a further debate to be held by the new Parliament, following the election in May.
Parties were urged to take forward the Assembly’s work through manifesto pledges. The Herald newspaper’s report on the debate can be read here and you can read my comment piece sharing my thoughts on the Parliamentary debate here.
It has been an honour to hear members’ advocating passionately for the vision and recommendations they worked so hard to achieve together and, for a final time, I want to thank all those that have given of their time to help share the Assembly’s work and to provide a model of active, engaged and informed citizenship.
The Assembly’s secretariat is concluding its work this month. It has been an honour to serve as Convener of Scotland’s first Citizens’ Assembly and I am grateful to everybody whose hard work and dedication to democratic innovation made the Assembly a success.
It is clear that The Citizens’ Assembly model has been firmly established as a valuable addition to Scotland’s democratic toolkit.