Scotland’s ‘future direction’ to be discussed at Citizens’ Assembly

Scotland’s future direction and the environment will be among the subjects discussed when the Citizens’ Assembly meets for a third time this weekend.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard is expected to address the third meeting of the Citizens' Assembly, which takes place in Clydebank this weekend
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard is expected to address the third meeting of the Citizens' Assembly, which takes place in Clydebank this weekend

Delegates will hear from several MSPs at the event in Clydebank, which will focus on the aftermath of December’s general election.

The body brings together 120 “broadly representative” people from across the country and was described by its former co-convener, David Martin, as “a genuine attempt to have a conversation across the whole of Scottish public opinion”.

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Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard is expected to address the assembly, along with SNP MSP Angela Constance, Tory Jamie Halcro Johnston and Scottish Greens co-leader Lorna Slater.

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Questions being put to the assembly include: “How do we move forward together in a constructive way despite our different views on Scotland’s constitutional future?” and “How to build a sustainable Scotland?”.

The second question will feature contributions from environmental experts Sandy Begbie, Katherine Trebeck and Andy Kerr.

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Assembly convener Kate Wimpress said: “Meeting now shortly after the general election is a really important time for the assembly to take stock of the state of our politics and to ensure the voice of citizens is heard on the big issues for the future of the country.

“I am delighted that we are being joined by leading politicians and recognised experts for these important discussions.

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“The assembly was founded to engage citizens in informed and respectful discussion of key issues for the future of the country, to ensure citizens’ voices are heard and to show that it is possible to find agreement and move forward on difficult issues, including around the constitution.”

With the assembly - announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon last April - at its halfway stage this weekend, Ms Wimpress said it has been “a really important innovation which already is demonstrating the power of deliberative democracy”.

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She added: “By the time we complete our work in April, we will be ready to bring forward a wide range of recommendations that show a way forward for Scottish politics and how we discuss difficult challenges.”

Modelled on citizens’ assemblies held in Ireland ahead of votes on same-sex marriage and abortion, the final report on Scotland’s future will be submitted in May and debated at Holyrood, with the Scottish Government obliged to respond and set out any proposed actions within 90 days.

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Mr Martin quit as the joint leader the Citizens’ Assembly last month, citing personal reasons.

He was Scotland’s longest-serving MEP before losing his European Parliament seat this year.