Last month’s launch of our We the People campaign in Parliament brought together politicians, campaigners and activists who all care about how the absence of democracy affects our everyday lives. We had a lively debate on the prospects for reform and how to take the campaign forward.
Frances Foley gave us a look back over last year’s Unlock Magna Carta campaign, designed to go beyond “dressing up in tights and dancing around poles” to work out what a new Magna Carta for the 21st century should look like.
Graham Allen sounded a note of optimism: with a real appetite for political change growing, it’s a great time to be a democrat. He pointed to Labour’s planned constitutional convention as a source of political pressure for reform coming from outside Parliament.
Caroline Lucas was more cautious, stressing the need to show that issues like fracking are also constitutional issues. She argued that to bring the campaign alive, we need to show that democracy isn’t a dry issue for experts, but something people should be discussing in the pub.
Alice Martin from the New Economics Foundation linked housing and democracy, warning that you couldn’t expect people to participate in democracy if they are in danger of eviction.
So what's next?
What we all agreed on was the need to go out of our comfort zone to connect democracy with everyday, concrete issues. When talking about constitutional reform, the danger is that it sounds abstract and remote from people’s everyday lives. But changing our democracy isn’t just about voting systems or lobbying registers. We need a new way of talking about how a lack of democracy affects the issues people care about, from fracking to housing and the NHS.
We’ll be starting this important work with campaigners and other organisations, but we’d like you to be a part of it too. Help shape the conversation by signing up to hear more about our We the People campaign.