To fix politics, we need a democratic revolution.
Right now, most people don’t think politics works for them. Decisions are too often made for people and communities, not with them. At every election we replace politicians, but the old way of doing things stays in power.
Together, we want to rewrite the UK’s entire political system. Instead of Westminster handing down instructions, communities have more say over their futures. Instead of serving the interests of corporations and the super-rich, politicians could work in the public interest.
We’re building a movement of people who will convince politicians it’s time for a new national founding document. This new constitution, written by and for the people, say what the government can do in our name. The process of writing it will let us decide which of our rights need extra protection, and how the different parts of the UK will work together in the future. If we want a fairer society, we need to start with a fairer political system.
Today, it’s hard to make our voices heard in politics, but if we’re united, we can win the change needed to make it work for us, just like when our ancestors won the vote for everybody.
To end the political crisis we need a new constitution.
What we want
We want a new constitution for the UK that replaces the unwritten, Westminster system of gentlemen's agreements.
The constitution would:
Set out the rules for how the Westminster parliament and government works, and what they can and can’t to.
Set out how Westminster deals with the governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Secure citizens rights so that they can’t be overruled by the government of the day with a majority of one.
The details would be decided by a citizen-led constitutional convention, and be put to the public to endorse. We believe this process is critical to rebuilding trust in our politics, and permanently rebalancing power so all of us have more say.
How would it work?
What is a constitutional convention?
A constitutional convention is where a group of people meet with the express purpose of writing a new constitution or revising an existing one. They have met in Iceland after the financial crash, and recently in Ireland to consider big changes such as legalising abortion.
Unlock Democracy wants to see a citizen-led convention, given the access to experts and the resources needed to do the job.
How it works
Members of the convention should be randomly selected citizens and should be representative of the UK’s population. Public debate, discussion and consultation should be widespread.
There should be a maximum of 200 people in the convention. It should provide ample opportunities for individuals or groups to present their perspective and/or provide evidence throughout the process.
Any proposals about the future of the UK should also have a majority of each national group within the convention.
Once the process has finished, we want to see the new constitution put to a referendum.
What difference would it make?
Protecting our rights
MPs can take away our rights at any time with a majority of one, and there’s no real limit to what the government can do in our name.
In 2016, MPs passed the Investigatory Powers Act, “The most intrusive surveillance law ever introduced in a democratic country” according to Liberty.
In 2018, a small majority of MPs voted to scrap a swathe of our rights in the EU Withdrawal Act. Politics isn’t done with us, it’s done to us.
It’s time for us as a nation to decide what our fundamental rights should be, and protect them from over-zealous governments.
Letting communities decide local services
The UK is one of the most centralised countries in the developed world. Councils and communities have very little say in how much money they raise to spend on local services.
For the last 8 years, Westminster has forced Councils to impose enormous cuts to local services. Without proper powers to raise money from elsewhere, local government increasingly has few genuine choices to make. Libraries have been closing across the UK, while schools and social services are under unprecedented pressure.
We want to see a system where instead of Westminster passing down orders, communities and citizens have have a genuine conversation about local needs, with the powers needed to deliver.
Over the past few years, Westminster’s attitude towards fracking has ridden roughshod over local democracy.
This highly controversial practice has been rejected repeatedly by local councils. But the government has kept changing the rules to help the industry get around local wishes. The government has recently proposed making fracking ‘permitted development’, meaning the practice wouldn’t need any local permission at all.
Central government shouldn’t be able to impose decisions like these against such clear views of local residents. A new constitution could give councils protection from this sort of Westminster interference.
Our Campaign Wins
We won our campaign for tough new rules for lobbying in Scotland.
It goes much further than Westminster’s bogus lobbying register. Virtually all lobbyists have to register, disclose who they are talking to and what about.
We helped push the Electoral Commission to investigate a 'dark money' trust in Scotland.
We wrote to Westminster’s Commissioner for Standards, requesting an investigation after inconsistencies in Conservative MPs reporting of donations from the Scottish Unionist Association Trust.
We saw off attempts to rig party funding in favour of the Conservatives.
Changes to funding rules would have meant draconian a crackdown on trade union donations, with millionaires left free to carry on funding their favoured politicians.