If democracy looks doomed, Extinction Rebellion may have an answer. Reflecting a longstanding XR demand, one of the bill’s core elements is a citizens’ assembly, which would be convened to come up with specific plans to change society and the economy in line with the legislation’s fundamental aim. This would be much more than a consultative exercise: even if, for example, the government disagreed with any proposals that had won the support of more than 80% of the assembly, they still would have to be voted on by MPs. To some people, this might look like the stuff of possible frustration and defeat, but it would also mark the entry into the legislative process of a new, disruptive element, which might pull things away from charmed circles, lobbyists and Westminster’s eternal tendency to conservative groupthink. The idea is yet another manifestation of one of the few sources of promise to be found among the polarisation and chaos of 21st-century politics: the gloriously simple notion of bringing together groups of people representative of the population at large to try to plot a way through difficult issues, and thereby begin to reduce our susceptibility to division and rancour. In times as troubled as ours, that may sound almost absurd. The strange thing is, it actually appears to work.
Guardian 30th Aug 2020 read more »