Comments by members of the Cambridgeshire Citizens’ Assembly

Benjamin Hatton of CambridgeshireLive interviewed members of the Cambridgeshire Citizens’ Assembly:

What did the assembly members think of the process?

As a condition for entry, the media was requested not to identify or speak with any assembly members, except those chosen for interview.

Lisa Eland, 45, from Haddenham, near Ely said: “It was quite interesting. I didn’t quite know what to expect.

“There was a lot of material to be covered, so you really had to focus on so many aspects that you didn’t necessarily contemplate discussing. But it gave everybody the opportunity to listen to other people’s experiences, opinions – you get very caught up in your own little bubble, how things affect you, so it was quite eye-opening listening to other people.”

She said it was well conducted: “It wasn’t biased. Very balanced. There were numerous speakers who were more than happy to present the material that they had prepared, but also to answer any questions. They weren’t politically motivated, they weren’t patronising. It was really interesting.”

She added: “I think everybody’s perspective was taken into consideration. Our hope now is that what we have said will actually be put forward, listened to, and discussed with a degree of consideration so that we can influence the outcomes.”

Alastair Hale, 24, Hampden Gardens, Cambridge, when asked how he found the process, said: “I found it quite mixed. I think at times it was really stressful, and sometimes quite difficult, but at times it was really exciting and interesting. I think I’ve learned a lot generally over the course of the two weekends.

“And I’ve learned a lot about democracy in that democracy isn’t always easy or necessarily exciting, but sometimes it is.”

Asked if his opinions are different for having gone through the process he said: “Yeah, even now I think what my personal view are, and I was recommending as an individual, I thought the solutions to these issues were, they would be quite different to what the recommendations of a group as a whole were. But having gone through this process, I would support the recommendations of the group as a whole, even though they are different from what I personally want, because I think broadly I think they achieve positive outcomes for most people.”

4 Responses

  1. As a condition for entry, the media was requested not to identify or speak with any assembly members, except those chosen for interview.

    Is this an example of the transparency and publicity that Ahmed et al are advocating in order to get over problems of representativity?

    Like

  2. Keith>> Is this an example of the transparency and publicity…

    Here is a dangerous fallacy:

    Today’s mass media type “transparency” is neither necessary nor helpful when a citizen jury wants to find a true, unbiased General Will. To the contrary, it is of utmost importance to provide a safe environment for citizen jury members for an open debate while moderators to ensure a truly neutral and balanced process.

    Today’s stabs at transparency is pulling wool over citizens’ eyes to hide the inevitable structural corruption in a party system, for which it is no fix, as each round just changes the loopholes but does not fix the root of the problem.

    The mass media style “transparency” would merely subject harmless citizens to the dark side of “political” correctness which – as a weapon of dirty campaigning outfits and self-aggrandizement of would-be political influences – has replaced true correctness and good manners.

    Like

  3. Hubertus:> it is of utmost importance to provide a safe environment for citizen jury members for an open debate while moderators to ensure a truly neutral and balanced process.

    I think that translates into “in camera”. Do you seriously believe that the vast majority of citizens disenfranchised by the aleatory coup would perceive that as democratically legitimate?

    Like

  4. Keith, not identify the particular individual in a jury is standard practice, and makes a lot of sense if we want to encourage frank discussion.

    Transparency means what the ORGANIZERS do, including framing the issues, picking experts, training facilitators, creating “summary” texts for participants, working with the participants on the final report should all be documented, open, and with citizen and outside oversight.

    People who have organized or participated in minipublics know what transparency means concretely. Moreover, and not surprisingly, given the absence of the perverse electoral incentives, experience with these sort of events shows that ordinary citizens are more likely to come up with reasonable solutions or recommendations.

    That said, Caroline Lee’s “Do It Yourself Democracy: The Rise of the Public Engagement Industry,” and Genevieve Fuji Johnson’s “Democratic Illusion,” both illustrate how “engagement” and “deliberative” processes can be abused by the ORGANIZERS.

    I’ve yet to see any study that says PARTICIPANTS were able to manipulate a process for their own ends.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: