Lawson and Simms call for a People’s Jury to represent public interest

Harald Korneliussen found the following item:

A People’s Jury of a thousand angry citizens

From banking to hacking public horror has failed to tame Britain’s feral elites. We need a People’s Jury

A new routine is emerging. First, a crisis occurs in a vital part of our lives: banks crash, MPs fiddle expenses, a media empire hacks phones. Public anger and outrage rises. Everyone says that something must be done. But frustration and apathy set in as it becomes obvious that nothing is done. A moment for change slips through our fingers. Meanwhile the next – possibly bigger – crisis lurks round the corner, perhaps banking again, or the energy companies. Why is this happening and what can we do about it?

We are witnessing a crisis of elites. Society has always had people in positions of power and huge influence. But now they have broken free of moral and regulatory constraints and operate, unashamedly, in their own interests. Remember Bob Diamond, the Barclays boss, lecturing MPs that the “time for remorse” was over.


The only means by which these crises can be avoided, or mitigated, is though the moral and institutional reassertion of a “public interest” in British political and corporate life. So today we, and a host of others, are calling for the government to set up a People’s Jury to put the British public interest first. The jury would be made up of 1,000 citizens drawn at random from the electorate and funded out of the public purse. A paid secretariat will commission research and call witnesses to make our nation’s elites answerable to the public. Reporting within a year of its launch the jury will report on how the public interest relates to media ownership; the role of the financial sector in the crash; MP selections and accountability; policing; and more generally on British political and corporate life.

The outcome would be a new public interest test with ethical procedures for the corporate world – useful for example in the takeover by the junk food giant Kraft of Cadbury’s – and the proper treatment of national assets, services and utilities; and the outlawing of excessive concentrations of elite power in places like banking or the media.


Some of the comments are sympathetic:


Terrific idea!

Personally, I would go further. I think the second chamber in government (once we’ve ditched the place men and hereditary, lords) should be a peoples jury picked at random.

Just imagine, a group of people, totally representative and with no inbuilt vested interests making decisions based on what is BEST for the PEOPLE rather than their party leaders.

Others are not:


A bad idea. We need people of excellence to run things, not the petty bourgeois.

Shop keepers and mobile phone salesman no [sic] nothing of Law and constitutional matters.

4 Responses

  1. In addition to printing the letter, it seems The Guardian made a news article about it:

    Apparently Phillip Pullman is among the supporters. Great to see it getting attention, but I hope these people aren’t so controversial as to make people believe this is simply a far left initiative.


  2. “A paid secretariat will commission research and call witnesses to make our nation’s elites answerable to the public. Reporting within a year of its launch the jury will report.”

    1) Who will appoint and then construct the agenda of the secretariat?
    2) How can 1,000 people author a report?


  3. Harald, the main organisation that is supporting this proposal for a citizen jury (which is composed of volunteers, rather than being randomly selected) is the open democracy website:

    It’s interesting to note the degree to which the priorities of Lawson, Simms and the other commentators on this site bear no relation at all to the priorities of wider public (as indicated by the e-petitions site).


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