All Hands On: Come and talk about Citizens' Assemblies with the experts next week
It's a presentation (followed by panel discussion) of the short documentary, "When Citizens Assemble", part of a film series on democratic innovation called All Hands On, put together by the journalist Patrick Chalmers (and supported by the newDemocracy Foundation and Common Weal).
As you'll read below from the Eventbrite blurb, the inspiration was the success of citizens assemblies in Ireland - something we've celebrated here on A/UK regularly. (If you want to see the documentary in advance, we've embedded it here)
Ireland's efforts to break a decades-old political deadlock over its de facto abortion ban inspired a bold political response. Its politicians agreed to create a Citizens' Assembly to tackle the issue.
A random pick of Irish people deliberated on the highly contentious question. One hundred people took part, balanced for age, gender, social class and region. They heard from experts, campaigners and women directly affected by the ban. Their conclusion, reached in April 2017, recommended radical liberalisation.
The assembly’s work helped bring on a national referendum on abortion in 2018, when Irish voters will have a chance to change abortion laws.
Ireland’s approach was similar to the one it used on same-sex marriage, which voters approved in 2015. Both mark breakthrough moments for all those wondering how politics could be done differently. Rather than leaving decisions to elected politicians, The Irish showed how public wisdom can help cut through controversy.
At a time of deep dysfunction in our electorally driven politics - what issue wouldn't lend itself to a citizens' assembly approach? Where might things be on Brexit, on Scottish independence, poverty and other social justice questions given access to public panels addressing such questions?
The speakers look excellent and authoritative:
Ella Whelan - freelance journalist and author of What Women Want: Fun, Freedom and an End to Feminism. Ella is currently researching a book on feminism, transgenderism and what happens when you ask: what does it mean to be a woman?
Tim Hughes - director of Involve. Tim is an expert in public participation and open governance. He has advised governments at many levels in the UK and also multilateral organisations. - including the OECD, Council of Europe and Open Government Partnership.
Doreen Grove (panel chair) - head of Open Government for the Scottish Government, where her work supports public services reform, democracy renewal, transparency and the use of innovative participative processes.
If you'd like to come along, again, here's the link to Eventbrite. Representatives from A/UK will be there, find us and say hi!