I didn’t support the Leave campaign, however, with a Brexit strategy moving steadily and determinedly into place, I am choosing to look positively at how Brexit could be harnessed as an opportunity to strengthen the UK democratic system. My angle is that with lots of work to be done to fill the gap after European legislation is unknitted from our own, there will be even greater justification for the continued devolution of powers. I’d see that as an extremely positive outcome of Brexit. It could lead simultaneously to a greater emphasis being placed on local politics and a move towards a non-London centric society.
It’d mean that decision-makers would have a wider geographical spread, increasing opportunities for members of the public to engage with their representatives and for more local perspectives to be heard. We could even be talking about swathes of community networks building up around better integrated sites and individuals of power.
That’s the type of society I would like to live in. Just to be clear, I think that the huge shifts that Brexit will bring about in the way that the UK operates could just as easily be used to realise this vision as they could to realise an alternative one, even an opposing one. And that’s why the narratives that we create are especially important, for picturing a vision in full, before it is invested in. I suppose I’m critiquing the EU Referendum campaigns with that comment, but in the same breath I’m suggesting I want to outline a few more of my ideas.
I believe strongly that a more democratic society needs all of its members to be thinking well together on the topics that are important to them. I have spent a lot of the last few years exploring ways that we could practice a deliberative democracy; a democracy that does just that; that prioritises the need for forums (or, public spaces) for its people to gather to think through and make decisions around the direction they’d like society to go in. And forums don’t have to be physical spaces, of course, but they do they need to be far reaching, which takes thoughtfulness about the needs of all those occupying this nation.
Most recently I have been championing listening projects that provide a non-judgemental space for partakers to think through important concepts and come to their own decisions about them. I also encourage positive news sites that create, in a different way, a more productive thinking space for the population to reflect on.
So a further devolution of powers would be a very positive response to Brexit as a way to strengthen the democratic system in the UK. I’m suggesting more than that though. I’m suggesting that the non-Europe centric future politics we’re looking at, could not only get the ball rolling to ensure a non-London centric politics as well; it could make politics non-centric altogether. And the possibilities of that are something worth picturing.