Democracy Matters is delighted to be part of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Knowledge Exchange programme about constitutional change. We will run six participative events across the country to connect local communities with researchers and make up their own minds about the issues. Our members have responded very positively to this opportunity, including the WEA in Scotland and England, ACT, Citizenship Foundation, Involve, London Voluntary Service Council (LVSC), Ragged University, Sheila McKechnie Foundation, Speakers’ Corner Trust, Talk Shop and Unlock Democracy. We aim to create six events that empower people to take part in the process constitutional change.
Democracy Matters is an informal alliance of civil society networks and education providers which promote practical political education. We are inviting members of our network to co-host participative events in different parts of the country to engage a wide range of people in the debate about Britain’s constitution.
The ESRC Fellows will maximise the breadth and depth of social science contributions to debates in the period immediately after the 2015 General Election, through the development of a number of knowledge exchange and public engagement activities.
The Fellows are:
- Professor Nicola McEwen, University of Edinburgh and Associate Director, ESRC Centre on Constitutional Change The constitutional developments unfolding across the UK pose new challenges for the relationships between UK and devolved governments, and expose the need for more effective cooperation between them. Professor Nicola McEwen’s fellowship will draw on international examples to inform ongoing discussion on how to improve the processes and machinery of intergovernmental relations. It will consider how to confront the challenges of governing the fiscal framework in light of greater fiscal autonomy for the devolved nations. Finally, it will assess how parliaments can give effective democratic scrutiny to intergovernmental relations to help ensure governments are held to account.
- Professor Richard Wyn Jones, Cardiff University Professor Wyn Jones’s work will consist of two elements. The first focuses on the UK Government’s plans to introduce a new ‘reserved powers’ devolution dispensation for Wales, with legislation expected to be published in the autumn of 2015. The second concentrates on the functioning of the UK as a Union in the context of the government’s plans for further devolution for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as the introduction of a form of English Votes for English Laws.
- Des McNulty, Professor Adam Tomkins and Professor Duncan Maclennan at Glasgow University The Glasgow fellows, Des McNulty, Adam Tomkins and Duncan Maclennan, will bring together two presently disparate strands of policy development and debate, namely the processes of further development of autonomies for the devolved administrations of the UK and the evolution of city deals as a basis for devolution in England. Senior academics and practitioners from Canada and Australia will contribute, along with the fellows, to a series of events designed to shed light on the economic, fiscal and constitutional arrangements needed to operate effective multi-order government in the United Kingdom.
- Sir Bernard Crick Centre, University of Sheffield The Sir Bernard Crick Centre at the University of Sheffield has been designated as an ESRC Knowledge Exchange Hub to help ensure that public debates regarding democratic and constitutional reform are underpinned by the very best social science research. The Crick Centre’s activities will be based around the creation and promotion of three short films and a series of public engagement events. Three academic knowledge exchange fellows; Professor Matthew Flinders, Dr Kate Dommett and Dr Matt Wood and two practitioner knowledge exchange fellows (Titus Alexander from Democracy Matters and Matteo Bergamini from Shout Out UK) form the central team.
Fellows will facilitate opportunities for researchers to contribute to debates about the future of the United Kingdom in local, national and international contexts, maximising the impact of quality social science research. The programmes also enable the fellows to gather and present evidence on constitutional issues in appropriate formats for a wide range of audiences, including a final report outlining the activities and impact of their fellowship.
The fellows will work closely with other stakeholders to develop a programme of knowledge exchange and communications activities, and advise the ESRC on the development of future similar initiatives.
Democracy Matters is grateful to the Crick Centre and the ESRC for this opportunity to widen and deepen the debate about constitutional change.