logoToday’s publication of draft legislation to devolve powers to Scotland makes the case for a UK-wide, citizen-led Constitutional Convention ever more pressing, according to the Electoral Reform Society.

The Edinburgh Reporter spoke with Will Brett who is Head of Campaigns at The Electoral Reform Society, a body which tries to encourage citizen involvement in matters relating to devolution across the country and not just in Scotland.

Will B headshot_resizeHe said: “As wider questions around the UK on where power lies are raised we want to ensure that citizens are in the driving seat. The Smith Commission was a pretty closed affair so it is pleasing to see that the government is starting to see how much energy there is in Scotland and recognise that there is potential for people to be involved at all stages of the process.

“One of the big implications of what is going on with Scottish Devolution is that it raises all these questions about what is going on in the rest of the UK. IN Wales they have their own process going on.  All of these things are thrown up in the air by the fallout from the Scottish independence referendum.

“Our big ask is that the way all these pieces are put back together is done in a way which gives people the power and we really need a constitutional convention which is a mechanism for bringing ordinary people into the process of making decisions.”

We spoke to Mr Brett over Skype just a short time after the draft legislation had been published today.

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Commenting on today’s announcement, Darren Hughes, Deputy Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said:

“All the parties vowed to devolve more powers to Scotland, and no one is suggesting this should be delayed. But ultimately, today’s announcement raises more questions than it answers. These new powers will have huge implications for the rest of the UK, so this is only going to be the start of the debate about where power should lie.

“It is vital that this debate is not dominated by politicians striking up deals behind closed doors. We won’t get a settlement between the nations that commands legitimacy and respect unless it is reached with citizens in the driving seat. That’s why we need a UK-wide, citizen-led Constitutional Convention to give ordinary people the power to decide our country’s future.

“We saw in the Scottish independence referendum that when you give people a real say in where power should lie, they will turn out in droves. Let’s bring that energy to the rest of the UK and open up this important debate so citizens can have their say. It’s time for a Convention, and all the parties should commit to one.”