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New Report: Blueprint for a UK Constitutional Convention

2 June 2017

UK Conven

The Constitution Unit has today published a report that sets out design options for a citizens’ constitutional convention in the UK.

Such a convention is proposed by Labour and the Liberal Democrats in their election manifestos and has a wide range of advocates across the political spectrum.  Yet there has been limited detailed thinking about the form that such a body should take. The report – which is written by Constitution Unit Deputy Director Dr Alan Renwick and the Unit’s founder and former Director Professor Robert Hazell – fills that gap. It examines the issues, explores the lessons to be learned from similar exercises elsewhere, and identifies the pitfalls to be avoided. It sets out a blueprint for a citizens’ constitutional convention in the UK.

The report finds that a constitutional convention of this kind could make a great and positive contribution to democratic governance in the UK. But the potential benefits should not be exaggerated and, to succeed, a citizens’ constitutional convention must be designed well and resourced adequately.

Alan Renwick comments:

‘Other countries – including Ireland, the Netherlands, and Germany – have recently engaged their citizens directly in constitutional reform processes that foster high quality, informed deliberation.  The UK faces deep constitutional challenges in the coming years, and a similar approach could work very well here too.  So-called ‘citizens’ assemblies’ – if they are well designed and funded – allow members of the public to learn about the options, discuss the issues among themselves, and come to reasoned conclusions about what will work best.’

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