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Great Charter Convention

Building it: campaigns and movements

A look at the various campaigns and movements surrounding the Magna Carta and the question of a new constitutional settlement for Britain.

A constitutional convention A written constitution? Rethinking representation Building it: campaigns and movements
Rights and liberties today A new charter of the forest Power where? Nations, regions, cities History


Rebuilding democracy in Iceland: an interview with Birgitta Jonsdottir

In the first of a series of interviews by Phil England examining the situation in Iceland and the possible relevance of developments there to the UK, Phil talks to Pirate Party MP Birgitta Jonsdottir.

Towards a citizens' constitutional convention

What will it take to create a genuinely citizen-led constitutional convention for the UK? A meeting in Parliament on May 10, convened by Assemblies for Democracy, will aim to find out. 

Inclusive decision making systems are a must for any UK constitutional convention

Binary yes-no voting is a plague on democracies. We should and can do much better. Here's how.

The cause of the Runnymede eco-villagers is a righteous one

By criminalising squatting and begging the government is closing all the exits out of a low-wage and rentier economy: we must resist.

Devolution for Yorkshire?

Can we turn 'devolution' from above into 'self-determination' from below? What would this look like in Yorkshire?

Democracy needs informed debate: how do we get it?

Democracy requires informed debate. Gavin Barker sets out a proposal for how Assemblies for Democracy and other citizen groups can help to improve citizens' access to high quality information.

Equal rights for all: the limits of Magna Carta and the 1965 Race Relations Act

The commemoration of Magna Carta should not be a complacent celebration, but an opportunity to explore what more we need to do as a nation to secure equal rights for Black and minority ethnic people.

Why wait until 2020? We need to act on our democratic crisis now!

Why wait until 2020? The Labour Leadership candidates should assemble as many as are willing and get a constitutional convention going now in time to legislate in 2020.

Why does the UK need a constitutional convention? An interview with Anthony Barnett

Phil England asks Anthony Barnett, founder of openDemocracy, about the UK's constitutional crisis and the relevance of Iceland's constitutional convention.

A Magna Carta for learning disabled people

800 years of Magna Carta but learning disabled people remain 'villeins', denied rights against arbitrary power. What would a Magna Carta for learning disabled people look like?

Iceland's unfinished revolution? An interview with Hordur Torfason

The award-winning human rights activist credited with starting Iceland's 'pots and pans revolution', discusses with Phil England the prospects for 'unfreezing' the draft new constitution.

Magna Carta 800th anniversary: three contrasting videos

A message to England from America's Black Lives Matter, A talk under the oldest Yew in England, and might says it is right

800 years since the Magna Carta: Remembering the British struggle for ethnic minority rights

As we approach the 800th aniversary of Magna Carta, let us recall other important anniversaries which mark the struggle for black and minority ethnic rights in the UK.

From King John to Baron Bragg: celebrating Magna Carta

As the Queen is prepared to annoint the humiliation of King John with a witticism there is a gathering anger against the way Britain is governed.

The alternative Magna Carta festival

This Saturday, in London, will be a gathering to celebrate the genuine meaning of Magna Carta - come!

Radical regionalism and democratic politics in England

The election result underscores the need for a profound rethink by the left in England: this should focus on regionalism and radical democracy. 

Let there be a Runnymede Left

As 800th anniversary celebrations loom, it's time for the left to reclaim the Magna Carta.

A free election, but not a fair one

The 2015 election result shows just how absurdly unfair our voting system is. To change it we need political pressure from a movement for democratic renewal outside of Parliament.  

Magna Carta and British socialism’s struggle for freedom in late Victorian and Edwardian Britain

The socialist and labour movements of Britain at the turn of the 20th century saw Magna Carta as an important symbol to invoke in their own struggles against the current system and its abuses.

All for English devolution - but what about English democracy?

All three main UK parties are keen to pursue English devolution. But their proposals are elite-driven and do not take democracy seriously enough.

At Blackstone Edge: a People's Charter for 2015?

Following in the footsteps of the original Chartists at Blackstone Edge, Paul Salveson proposes a People's Charter for 2015. We need a movement of citizen conventions to debate proposals like this.

What is to be done: or, ensuring the British people get what they vote for (and that we don't get into this mess again)

As the media prepares to declare Miliband an illegitimate PM, we must be ready to defend what we've voted for.

The British syndrome: an abdication of responsibility

There are glaring absences at the heart of the UK elections contest. The new preface to his ‘Essay on Britain, now’ - by one of Britain’s leading political thinkers tells us why. Remarkably, it suggests ways in which to free ourselves from the trap we are in.

Democracy exists by the act of doing it: a meeting with Podemos in Manchester

A meeting with Podemos in Manchester provides an opportunity to reflect on the meaning of democracy and the need to challenge the undemocratic politics of 'DevoManc'.

The Great Charter of Liberties

Looking at the distance between the Westminster parliamentary system and those to whom elected representatives are ultimately accountable, the Chartists had a point – in fact, at least six points.

Digital rights and freedoms: Part 2

More than rights, a set of guiding principles is needed to counterpose to the reigning ideals of ‘security’, ‘growth’ and ‘innovation’. Alternative ideals, perhaps, such as democracy, health and environmental sustainability?  See Part 1.

Digital rights and freedoms: Part 1

Under the rubric of state security on the one hand and commercial openness on the other, we are being lulled into an online world of fear and control where our every move is monitored in order to more efficiently manage us. See Part 2.

Visions of a democratic reality

As Assemblies for Democracy meet this Spring, citizens are starting to ask what real democracy is. Democracy doesn't need heroes or heroines, but level-headed good practitioners.

Devolution in the North of England: time to bring the people into the debate?

The referendum in Scotland is creating impetus for a redistribution of power within England. But who will determine the shape of this - Westminster, local elites or local citizens?

Holding MPs to account: a Truro experiment

To hold our MPs to account we need to know what they promised to do before they were elected. We also need to have a clearer sense of what we expect them to do. How can we achieve these aims?

What you can do for your democracy

Last week saw the launch of the Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee’s The UK Constitution – a pocket-sized, written constitution for the UK. Here's what you can do.

Wanted: A Magna Carta for the 21st Century

To protect and renew the rule of law we need to re-imagine our democracy. This Spring's Assemblies for Democracy have a vital role to play.

Assembling for democracy: part 2, the Chartists and us

Democracy arrived in the UK thanks to popular movements which pressured a reluctant Parliament into democratic change. Part 2 of this article picks up the story beginning with the Chartists.

Assembling for democracy: part 1, learning from the Blanketeers

As Assemblies for Democracy prepare to meet this Spring in London, Manchester and Glasgow, it is time to look again at the history of popular assembly in the struggle for democracy in Britain.

How to re-energise democracy

As we approach the general election, how can we make democracy real and vivid to citizens who do not feel part of the political process?

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