First steps towards greater democracy and social justice
MSPs have backed a report by Citizens Assemblies Scotland which places civil society at the heart of decision making.
Recommendations of the report, which is backed by 60 civil society groups, were noted by MSPs including income levels and poverty, tax and the economy, health and wellbeing, support for young people, sustainability and further powers for the Scottish Parliament.
MSPs voted by 89 to 29 in favour of to note the report.
The motion was amended by both Labour’s Anas Sarwar and Scottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvie, to include references to the report’s recommendations on inequality and climate change respectively.
Assembly members of all backgrounds were clear that more needs to be done in Scotland to move power out of Holyrood and into local communities.
The assembly overwhelmingly recommended – with 90% support – establishing community-based citizens' assemblies to hold councils to account between elections and let residents shape their place’s future.
Willie Sullivan, director of the Electoral Reform Society Scotland, who organised the letter from nearly 20 community groups and campaigners across Scotland, said: “The Citizens’ Assembly showed Scotland can lead the way in building a stronger, more community-led democracy – with citizens themselves shaping the path forward for Scotland after this pandemic.
“But MSPs must do more than debate the findings – they must take forward proposals to boost scrutiny and transparency, and open up decision-making to local communities.
“From new local assemblies to a House of Citizens scrutinising legislation, politicians can start to share power and ensure that as we come out of this crisis, everyone has a stake in shaping what comes next.
“It’s abundantly clear that people want a clearer say in shaping their areas, and we need to see a vision for local democracy taken forward by MSPs that captures this. Despite the pandemic the Citizens’ Assembly was able to continue and make really powerful, creative recommendations for moving politics outside of town halls and into communities.
“The report must not be marked ‘job done’ – it’s a blueprint for a renewed Scotland, drawing on all this country’s experience.”