Lets Ensure many voices are heard on Brexit

brexitIt is clear that how we proceed in our departure from the EU is a great deal more complex than a simple binary choice of stay or go. It is also clear after 16 months that the Government despite its occasional promises, has no intention of listening to people’s opinions. The only people who count are the big beasts in Industry such as Branson and Dyson, the significant party funders, and the loud mouths in the parties such as Johnson, Rees Mogg and Farage. So lets turn that on its head. This article from Tuesday in the FT explains how The Constitution Unit at University College London has tried to ensure that the voices of real people are heard. Along with the think-tank UK in a Changing Europe, it recently brought together a “Citizens Assembly” of 50 voters. The group reflected a careful cross section of how people voted at the referendum (25 voted leave, 22 voted remain and three did not vote). The group spent two weekends listening to, and taking part in, a balanced debate on Brexit with the involvement of political speakers, academics and other experts. They were then asked to decide how Brexit should proceed in four votes on specific aspects of the negotiation. The article gives an over view of their responses. What matters however is not that this article circulates more widely, but that the idea is used in a number of settings so we can get some form of indication of any consensus or common views. The benefit of such processes is not just that views are recorded and published from people with a range of ages, backgrounds and political points of view, but also that all those involved get to hear other voices and get briefed on ideas and proposals that so often feature as extremely brief sound bites. There is of course a cost to such an approach, but the cost of our snap General Election was £170m, the cost of a referendum was £143m. The cost of getting things wrong and having to refit things later will run into Billions. It it surely possible to link together such events so that the briefing from experts which is mentioned in the article can be captured and streamed so that even those unable to attend can learn more. It may be possible to run a number of events in parallel across the UK so that not only are the presentations seen simultaneously but a wider non scientific audience can also respond and their opinions could also be captured. Of course such a series of events and processes will strike at the heart of those who claim to own democracy. The Political Parties and the Government will see this as a threat to their existence, but this would be a much better way of gathering opinions than any mechanism so far tried by the Government, despite all of their promises. It would be open and accountable in a way that few such events ever are.


About ianchisnall

I am passionate about the need for public policies to be made accessible to everyone, especially those who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am particularly interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as health services and strategic planning.
This entry was posted in EU Referendum, Journalism, Parliament and Democracy and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s