Benedict's Weekend 6 Diary
The 6th weekend, the 2nd virtual meeting of the Citizens’ Assembly Meeting (3rd- 4th October 2020)
Another weekend of remarkable democratic innovation playing out here in Scotland. A passionate but challenging weekend. A unique moment, as we come together again, resolute and resilient members, all for our beloved country! It is the time to refine the different aspects of our vision for, ‘the kind of country we are seeking to build’ (the first remit question set for the Assembly), an overall 90% threshold has been set as consensus on this remit question.
This has been incredibly difficult and challenging as the Assembly is the gathering of over a hundred members that have been randomly recruited from across Scotland (a broadly representative of the adult population, 16 and over in terms of age, gender, socio-economic class/educational qualifications, ethnic group, geography, values and political attitudes, to discuss and reach 90% consensus on the kind of country we are seeking to build. This is difficult, but common ground on complex issues is at the heart of our processes at this Assembly. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that the Assembly’s vision is agreed by consensus for validity and reliability.
I must say that leading to this weekend, members and secretariat, sacrificing their time, energy and emotions, volunteered to take part in several workshops to sense-check and feedback on how the work done at the weekend 5 had been analysed and presented by the secretariat, and on the proposed steps to agreeing a final vision.
Saturday the 3rd
Today we are working in small groups to examine what sits at the heart of one of the areas of consensus agreed at the weekend 5 and drafted an initial wording to form a part, or element, of the Assembly’s vision.
And in my group, we have started the process of drafting our recommendations which will be our response to Remit Questions 2 and 3:
• how we overcome the challenges facing Scotland.
• What further information citizens need to take informed decisions.
The moment of truth I called it. This is what we have all been prepared and waited for! The voting process was very secure, accessible and reliable. We used the ‘Survey Monkey’ with the final vote taken by ZOOM poll.
There were four rounds of voting:
Round 1 for choosing between alternative wording options for the elements of the vision.
Round 2 Voting to support Vision Statements (content validity covering all 18 elements). Only 5 of the elements hit the 90% threshold.
Round 3 for review and voting on ‘near misses’. These are elements that were close to reaching the 90% consensus.
Round 4 took place on whether the vision statement should be adopted by the Assembly. A simple majority was all that was needed for the adoption, but we got an overwhelming 97% - indicating a vast consensus and trust in the process as a whole.
What a weekend!
A challenging but a successful weekend that I have likened to that feeling you get after emerging from a well-prepared examination that turned out to be a hard one! It was a tough exercise and very emotional with immense satisfaction - incredible hard work from us members and the secretariat.
But isn’t it great how we reach such a vast consensus without bickering and finger-pointing? Well, we are a miniature Scotland. A randomly selected individuals representing and having honest conversations with politeness and genuineness. Citizens sacrificing and making decisions for themselves. And this only boils down to the fact that there are more things that unite us as a people than divide us.
Change has come quicker than anticipated, and there is this urgent and sincere need to reposition Scotland.
But how credible are we and our work?
We are miniature Scotland, and we are diverse well enough to ensure a broad range of perspectives being considered. The Assembly processes are very credible with the infusions of all the validity and reliability checks. The 90% consensus required for each element is a great example, but it is difficult to reach. But we are resolute!
It is also imperative to note here that we members have enough information(professional/academic and political opinions have been sought) required to answer the remit questions and we all, though different individuals with different values agree with the process through which the final vision statement was approved.
We the Assembly members have genuine ownership of the vision, and each member can rightly take pride in the contribution we have made to preparing it.
It’s our vision, our dream, it’s genuine, and we take pride in it for our Scotland!
See you all in weekend 7, folks.
Alba an Aigh!