Monday, September 03, 2007

Citizens Juries?

Much has been made of Citizens Juries. Tony Blair talked about them and Gordon Brown is now.

The plan seems to be that there will be groups of "citizens" who sit on a group and chat about policy areas.

The questions are:

  • Who picks the jury?
  • Do they get paid?
  • Isn't Parliament supposed to do this sort of thing?


Timothy (likes zebras) said...

With a few exceptions, I'm sure you recognise that the needs of "party discipline", shameless political point-scoring, etc, etc mean that Parliament does not any longer do "this sort of thing".

Of course, the way you introduce the topic makes citizen juries sound like nothing more than "focus groups". Ugh.

Nevertheless, I am in favour of a citizen's jury, as a replacement for the House of Lords, so that all legislation has to face the sanity check of being passed by ordinary people.

I've not a clue about the practicalities of this (Jury to sit for each session of parliament? New jury for each Bill?), but I think they are details compared to the principle of wresting legislative power away from the party whips.

One of the reasons the press is so aggressive in the UK, is because a "fuss in the media" is one of the few ways to change the governments course.

If there was a more robust system of checks and balances then the press might have to spend more time reporting the news, rather than making it.

youdontknowme said...

Citizens juries are basically a PR gimmick which will be completely useless. What we need is real democracy like Switzerland has.

Benedict White said...

Timothy, you highlight some of the practical difficulties with citizen juries that lead to people like Youdon'tknowme thinking they are just a PR gimmick.