Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Extinction Rebellion has demanded the citizens assembly offered by the British Government be given real authority, the power to override Democratically elected politicians, so Britain can properly address the climate crisis.
It’s Time The Public Had A Say On How We Fight Our Climate Crisis
By failing to act right now, we’re condemning our children to a bleak or even non-existent future. The public has a right to respond to this crisis, writes Extinction Rebellion’s Linda Doyle
30-08-2019 By Linda Doyle
As an event that challenges established politics and offers new ways of doing things, it is the perfect place to highlight our third manifesto demand: that government “must create and be led by the decisions of a citizens’ assembly on climate and ecological justice”.
In short, what we want to see is something called a citizens’ assembly which will give a representative sample of the UK population the opportunity to debate and decide how we tackle the climate and ecological emergency.
Decades of inadequate political action have led to a climate and ecological emergency that poses an unprecedented threat to humanity and all life on Earth — “politics as usual” will not meet the challenge we face.
In June the Select Committees announced plans for a citizens’ assembly aiming to reduce greenhouse gases to net-zero by 2050, but these plans lack the scale and scope that we desperately need. 2050 is way too late; we have 17 monthsnot 31 years.
The assembly has no teeth, so the select committees are free to ignore their recommendations and the government is free to ignore the select committees.
Parliamentary democracy cannot solve long-term problems. Politicians focus on getting re-elected, so short-term policies are prioritised. A citizens’ assembly is an upgrade to democracy that fixes its flaws. People in citizens’ assemblies can think long-term about what they want for themselves, their families, and their communities. There’s no tactical voting or influential lobbyists behind the scenes.Read more: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/climate-crisis_uk_5d68d836e4b0488c0d127f74
Extinction Rebellion is not the first group to demand a citizens assembly because they are dissatisfied with the representatives voters choose.
President Maduro created a citizens assembly, when Venezuelan elections failed to deliver the elected politicians and policies he wanted.
Venezuela’s President Maduro calls for new constituent body
2 May 2017
Amid continuing anti-government protests, Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has called for a new constitution.
Speaking at a May Day rally, Mr Maduro said a new constitution was needed “to restore peace” and stop the opposition from carrying out a “coup d’etat”.
He decreed that a citizens’ assembly be convened to write the new document.
Opposition leaders said the move was aimed at neutralising the opposition-led legislature, the National Assembly.
National Assembly leader Julio Borges called it “a scam to deceive the Venezuelan people with a mechanism that is nothing more than a tightening of the coup in Venezuela”.
“It is Nicolas Maduro dissolving democracy and dissolving the Republic.”
…Read more: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-39775092
You might think it odd that Britain, the birthplace of modern democracy, would be seriously considering the idea of establishing a Venezuelan style citizens assembly which can dictate to elected politicians what they can and cannot do.
But in my opinion the concept of an undemocratic citizens’ assembly which can override the will of elected politicians fits quite neatly into the political procedural vacuum which will appear when Britain leaves the EU.
If you accept this charge, the creation of a new and powerful unelected citizens climate assembly makes perfect sense. The new assembly, whose claim to legitimacy would be drawn from the perceived urgent need to address the climate “crisis”, which would have the power to dictate policy to elected politicians, would provide ample cover for politicians who want an excuse for not fulfilling voters’ wishes; politicians could use rulings from the new citizens climate assembly as a drop in replacement for the political cover they used to receive from being subject to EU directives.