The Commission on Political Power, co-convened by Frances Cook and Baroness D’Souza, has published ideas for how to improve UK democracy by engaging its citizens.
The two-year commission explores how we can revamp and revitalise democracy, bringing more equitable structures to our formal democratic institutions and the confidence of the people.
Their option papers, consulting expert organisations and individuals as well as their own commissioners, have included approaches to rethinking the House of Lords, executive power, the monarchy and more.
The latest project of the commission has outlined how to ensure regular citizens are better involved in and engaged with political power. Option 4: Increasing Citizens’ Engagement with Political Power argues that scandals such as Partygate, financial corruption and government incompetence have led to serious public trust issues.
Young Citizens was pleased to contribute to the new options paper, focusing on the importance of citizenship education before voting ages, lowering voter registration ages to allow schools to support engagement and linking schools with youth councils.
The full paper spells out seven recommendations, including the use of processes such as citizens’ assemblies, people’s panels and other tools that help politicians’ decision-making.
It also suggests that the public “must be better informed about our political system”, starting with young people being empowered to take part in politics through education and activism.
“Our democracy is broken, it needs fixing.”
In a press release, the Commission said: “Democracy is a complex web of checks and balances that must engage citizens and a government that simplistically claims it can do what it likes following election is a dictatorship, not a democracy.”
Frances Crook, Co-Convenor, said: “The Commission is working with other organisations and politicians to promote informed discussion about how to improve our democratic structures. It will work throughout 2024 to make sure that democracy and constitutional challenges are part of the general election conversation. Our democracy is broken, it needs fixing.”
Ashley Hodges, Chief Executive of Young Citizens, said: “It was timely to contribute to this paper by the Commission on Political Power. At Young Citizens, we want to create a society where people are empowered to shape their communities and institutions to enable a thriving democracy. Thriving means it needs to be more equitable, inclusive and have less distance between communities and their institutions.
“We believe schools play a vital role to help level the playing field and create these connections, where we aim to create learning experiences that light the spark of active citizenship in children and young people. We welcome the Commission’s recommendation to boost political education so that children and young people are equipped and encouraged to take part in our democracy.”
You can read the full paper here.