Convener's Blog - December

Kate Wimpress

The General Election turned out to be about as bruising as I feared it would be, showing as it did, worrying and ongoing divisions in our society. A recurring issue was trust in the political process and its main actors – that question came up at least as much as the policies and personalities on the ballot paper. 

The erosion of public trust hasn’t happened overnight, and its causes are complex. But what’s clear is that we need to find new and credible ways of getting people involved in making decisions about the kind of society we want to be.  Trust might be weakening, but that doesn’t mean citizens don’t want to be involved. Cynicism and polarization are reasons for more democracy, not less.

There’s more public support for the Parliament in Scotland than at Westminster, but our national political life here in Scotland also shows major divisions.  How to respond? I feel our work at the Citizens’ Assembly of Scotland is a beacon for change, and is providing an important part of a roadmap for going forward.

We’re independent of government, and we’re working hard to establish a new way of tackling the difficult issues Scotland faces in 2020. We’re doing this by getting the big debates out of the usual places, away from the usual suspects; bringing people from all backgrounds from across Scotland together for informed and respectful deliberation.

Where national politics can get very heated when polarizing issues are on the table, we seek common ground. In our second meeting, members addressed the first question we’ve posed: What kind of country are we seeking to build? It is a big question, and it was a privilege to work with citizens in Scotland, meeting together to discuss our future in this way for the very first time.

The vision the Assembly has laid out is clear, and it was put together painstakingly through co-operative and open deliberation among members. And it’s a powerful expression of the more than 100 individual voices and lived experiences that made it happen.

Please take some time to read through the Report on Weekend 2, which includes the Assembly’s vision. It’s well worth it. You can also follow the Assembly on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Please share, join the conversation, and spread the word by letting your friends know what we’re all about. 

You’ll find all the latest on our work on our social media, as well as members generously and thoughtfully sharing their experiences of the Assembly.

We will all be back in January 2020, refreshed, looking forward to Weekend 3, 17-19 January, and ready to go. 

In the meantime, though,  best wishes for the holidays and a for happy and peaceful Hogmanay,

Convener of the Citizens’ Assembly of Scotland