Perry Walker writes: The ‘democracy sector’, define it as you will, has not been able to lay a glove on the Brexit brawl. The 2017 Citizens Assembly on Brexit, organised by the Constitution Unit at UCL and others, was a noble effort, but I detect little impact. Commons in Wonderland This is little surprise. My own website, Open Up, helped people work out what they thought about the referendum – but there were far fewer […]

Surely we can handle conflict better? Part one Reposted with thanks from the LGiU where this was originally published. The divisions created and made worse by Brexit clearly demonstrate a gap in the way we run things, writes Perry Walker. For really heavy duty conflicts we have arrangements for mediation, conflict resolution, arbitration, counselling and so on. But there are many conflicts, which stop way short of physical violence, that are nonetheless extremely distressing for […]

Reprinted with permission from the RSA. The RSA’s Matthew Taylor recently discussed deliberative democracy with David Runciman, professor of politics at Cambridge University. Matthew emphasised the form of deliberative democracy, a citizens’ jury or ‘ assembly, which parallels the legal jury and aims to bring together a ‘mini-public,’ representing a cross-section of the rest of us. Their conclusion on chosen issues is the one that the rest of us would have come to had we […]

By Perry Walker. Reprinted, with permission, from OpenDemocracy. Conversations across divides are very hard, but they’re essential to democracy. On the first day of October 2018 I did something I’d never done before: I went to the UK Conservative party conference in Birmingham. The theme of the event I attended was ‘Chuck Chequers’ – a reference to Prime Minister Theresa May’s controversial plan for Brexit. It was organised by the Bruges Group, which takes its […]

Reprinted with permission from the RSA. In his 2018 annual lecture, Matthew Taylor called for at least three national citizens’ assemblies to be held each year on key current challenges facing the UK. Perry Walker FRSA explores how to make that a success. Government – legislature and executive – resists change. This means that a step change in deliberative democratic approaches cannot just be bolted onto our present system. Rather, we need to understand that […]

Reprinted with permission from Rhizome. The process of polarisation can lead to one person seeing another as being without humanity and complexity, flattened into a two-dimensional caricature. One American organisation that has worked hard on ways to reverse this is  Essential Partners, which has grown out of the Public Conversations Project. This is turn started when a group of family therapists decided to use the tools of their therapy to try to improve the public […]

Martin Yarnit For years, governments have put off making a decision about the future of social care. At the same time, local authorities have been forced to cut back on their spending on this Cinderella service. Arguably, it was the unpopularity of their plan to get householders to pay for social care that setlost the Conservatives back so much at the last election. But now there is a glimmer of light. A citizens assembly , […]

We at Talk Shop need a part-time volunteer data analyst/ data visualiser to stengthen the work we’re doing in deliberative democracy. We believe that the future of democracy involves enabling ordinary citizens to take part in respectful, informed discussions that lead to real collective decisions. We offer card based kits for small groups to discuss important topics (see this), and promote larger meetings that make use of the kits too. Ongoing topics include Health & […]

A while ago we said, “We’re excited to announce our new project to get 10,000 people talking about health and social care…” Now we’ve even more excited, because the Royal Society of Arts have given us a ‘Catalyst Award’ to help us to start that conversation. The reason for initiating this project was that we felt that the paralysis on social care funding showed that politicians could not to grasp the nettle alone: citizens need […]

Compass, the left of centre campaigning group, has been grappling with Brexit – with our help. The management committee has favoured a position of neutrality so that Compass could act as a bridge between leavers and remainers. Some members wanted it to choose sides and to advocate remaining, or at least a parliamentary vote or second referendum on the issue. Talk Shop proposed a consultation event coupled with a survey of the membership. Three hundred […]