Vernon Bogdanor calls for sortition

The Sunday Times has published a pull-out on the Scottish Referendum and asked Vernon Bogdanor (David Cameron’s politics tutor at Oxford, now professor of government at King’s College London and the UK’s leading constitutional expert) to examine the consequences of the Referendum for the rest of the UK. Here’s an excerpt from his article:

The Next Question: Should England have a new Magna Carta?

Here is one suggestion. The Scottish referendum has released a hitherto submerged civic spirit, especially among younger voters. That spirit could also be tapped in England.

Suppose a small proportion of councillors — say 5% or 10% — were to be selected randomly by lot from the electoral register. Those chosen could refuse to serve, but most would probably do so and would include the young and members of ethnic minorities, groups markedly underrepresented in local government.

Those selected would be genuine independents, deciding what was best for their communities without being beholden to party. They would undergo a valuable form of civic education with beneficial consequences for local democracy. Local government could begin once again to become representative government.

Bogdanor reviewed both of my books on sortition — the first time (The Party’s Over) quietly ridiculing it and the second time (A People’s Parliament) agreeing that sortition is something that should be investigated at the local level.