Making Participation Count: A Manifesto

Our democratic system is in crisis. Many people blame Brexit, but the problems have been long in the making. Too many people and communities feel that they have little power over the decisions that affect them.

There needs to be more ways in which people’s voices can be heard and have influence not only via occasional elections but in relation to the cascade of continuous decision making that takes place in society, whether at local, regional, national or international level.

With this in mind, a group of us involved in community developmentcommunity organising and citizens deliberation teamed up with the well-known campaigning group Compass to explore the important role that participatory practice can play in deepening democracy. 

As we find ourselves in the middle of one of the most important general elections in modern history this task is now more urgent than ever. It is an election that will help decide the future direction of the country economically and socially, but also in what happens to our democratic systems and constitution. There has been virtually no discussion about the democratic and constitutional changes in the media but we know that radical change is needed. We believe that the incorporation of participatory and deliberative approaches into the planning and decision-making systems at all levels of government, from the bottom to the top must be central to such a change. 

We have produced this manifesto which sets out some policy recommendations on what a future government needs to do to support participatory practice so that it can perform a key role in supporting the development of more deliberative and participatory decision-making procedures that need to be incorporated into all levels of government. 

These ideas will be further explained and illustrated in Participation at 45°: techniques for citizen-led change – a forthcoming pamphlet which will be published by Compass in early 2020.

To have any impact the manifesto needs to be as widely disseminated as possible so:

We would be most grateful if you could:

  • Tell us what you think 
  • Send the Manifesto to your local ward councillors, MP and election candidates and ask if they would support
  • Share the Manifesto with one or two organisations you are a member of and seek to initiate a debate (community groups, business, voluntary and community groups, faith communities, trade unions, think tanks and so on
  • Consider asking one particular organisation to adopt the Manifesto.
  • We are committed to raising this agenda as widely as we can and growing momentum for action. We appreciate your support in this task,

We are keen to hear about any take-up and your views, will compile information to circulate to all respondents at a later point.