There has been growing interest in the idea of staging a ‘people’s’ constitutional convention in the UK over recent years, but little evidence for how one could work in practice. With this in mind a group of academics recently convened two pilot citizens’ assemblies in Sheffield and Southampton. The Unit’s own Alan Renwick, who was involved in running the Sheffield assembly, draws out eight lessons from two highly successful weekends.
Interest has been strong for over a year in the creation of a ‘people’s’ constitutional convention to examine some of the major questions of governance and democracy that face the UK today. I have pushed the case myself, as have many other academics, politicians, and activists.
This debate has drawn so far mainly on examples from other countries. Now, however, we have some home-grown evidence to learn from. I am part of a group – including also academics from the Universities of Sheffield, Southampton, and Westminster and a team from the Electoral Reform Society, and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council – who recently convened two pilot citizens’ assemblies to test out how the model of a citizens’ assembly works in the UK.