Nicola Sturgeon got it wrong over Citizens' Assembly announcement

Nicola Sturgeon made a "mistake" over the way she announced plans for a new Citizens' Assembly to look into Scotland's future, according to the new chair of the body.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: Getty Images
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: Getty Images

Former Labour MEP David Martin said it should not have been announced as part of a "three course of action" package in Parliament by the First Minister. This also included plans to legislate for second independence referendum and cross party talks on more constitutional change.

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The timing only served to heighten the "suspicion" of pro-union" parties who have since announced a boycott of the Assembly amid concerns it is a "nationalist stitch-up" to pave the way for a second referendum. Mr Martin rejected this during an Electoral Reform Society event in Edinburgh last night.But he said: "With hindsight I think it was a mistake."

David Martin is to co-chair the new Citizens' Assembly

He added: "I think throwing the three things together created some suspicion."I want to assure all the parties that they don't need to be suspicious about this. This is a conversation that they should want to be part of."If they don't take part then nothing changes because this is a Citizens' Assembly."

The Assembly of 120 Scots will hold a series meetings from October through to next Spring and discuss the challenges of Brexit as well as the information Scots need to make informed choices about the country's future.There is no formal role for the parties, other than potentially as part of a political panel, if Assembly members seek to ask them questions on issues relating to their work.Mr Martin added: "I do hope they will reflect and I do hope they will and I do think that the Irish experience shows, that as part of many other things being done in politics, this is gong to be the way forward inn terms of political dialogue in the future."