Call for support
Towards an Agreement of the People
for the 21st Century
We are inviting you to take an active part in the campaign to develop a democratic constitution to establish new political, social, economic, legal and ecological rights.
We have called our project “Towards an Agreement of the People for the 21st Century”. This connects us with the historic struggle of the Levellers who championed democratic rights during the civil war between the Crown and Parliament.
Today increasing numbers of people are disillusioned and alienated by a political process which is impoverishing millions through austerity, inequality and privilege. The struggle for democracy, begun by the Levellers in the 1647 Agreement of the People and taken forward by the Chartists and Suffragettes, continues. But advances in democratic rights and civil liberties are being undermined.
The concentration of bureaucratic, financial and corporate power has led to the transition from a welfare state to a market-driven state which deregulates, outsources and privatises services. Parliaments in Westminster, Cardiff and Edinburgh are totally inadequate as a means of popular representation, democratic control and accountability.
For ordinary people there is hardly anywhere left in the present system where they can address their grievances, have their voices heard or their needs met. A new constitutional settlement is needed to advance democracy and place power firmly in the hands of the majority. Our draft Agreement, which is attached, is an outline of what a new constitution might contain and is open for you to develop.
We should fight for our self-determination wherever we live. We therefore invite you to:
- become a supporter of this initiative, launched at an assembly on 17 November 2012
- send your points, comments and proposals about the draft Agreement
- spread the word and help with resources.
We would be more than happy to make a presentation about the Agreement of the People project or meet to discuss the campaign.
Looking forward to your support.
Claudine and Corinna, convenors
Agreement of the People for the 21st Century steering group
John McDonnell MP, A World to Win, People's Republic of Southwark,
Rotherham Against the Cuts, National Community Activists Network,
Real Democracy Working Group of Occupy London, People's Assemblies Network,
National Coalition for Independent Action, Wigan Borough Green Socialists,
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An Agreement of the People for 21st century (draft)
Whereas the current British state political system is undemocratic and unjust in that:
- The state is a highly centralised, alienating power that has established itself above society as a whole.
- This power is exercised primarily on behalf of dominant capitalist economic and financial interests as demonstrated by anti-people austerity measures.
- Legal authority does not come from the people as citizens, but from the Monarchy, Lords and Commons.
- The House of Commons is a powerless assembly rather than an independent transforming legislature instructed by the will of the electorate.
- Members of Parliament do not exercise any real control over ministers or civil servants.
- The devolved parliaments in Scotland and Wales play a similar role to the Westminster parliament.
- A surveillance state secretly monitors and tracks the legitimate activities of activists, trade unionists and protesters.
- Increasing numbers of “arms-length” quasi-state agencies have been created which are totally unaccountable at central and local level.
- Local government has lost its relative autonomy and is now reduced to carrying out central government orders and decisions.
- The state has abandoned primary responsibility in a number of areas including housing, higher education and care in older age in favour of markets for public services.
- The state refuses to take steps to cut carbon emissions and other measures to meet the challenge of climate change.
- The capitalist state increasingly resorts to violence to prevent change internally and externally perpetuates a condition of continuous war to promote illegal regime change.
- Power at national level increasingly exists only in relation to an unaccountable, unelected transnational state that includes the EU, the IMF and the WTO.
We therefore declare that the present state is a barrier to the real democratic control of society and has effectively disenfranchised the 99%. The right to vote, won in centuries of struggle, has been undermined.
We therefore propose an initiative that has as its aim the transformation of the present political system along democratic lines. We favour a transition from representation without power to a popular sovereignty.
We propose the goals of:
- building a new, independent and decentralised democracy, from below
- creating an inclusive written constitution that serves to protect and enhance our liberty and embraces the aspirations of the powerless majority.
To reach these goals we aim to:
- encourage the building of a new, nation-wide democratic tradition from the ground up through, for example, diverse Peoples’ Assemblies, as a means of transforming the state
- develop a working network of civil and human rights activists, constitution campaigners and all those interested in decentralisation, self-organisation and complete electoral reform
- carry out actions by non-violent means in support of the rights and issues we stand for
- develop a peoples’ constitution that will defend existing rights under attack and create new ones that deepen and extend democracy.
We advocate a new constitution for a 21st century democracy, moving from a constitutional monarchy to a constitutional democracy. This new constitution should have as its guiding principles:
- justice, transparency and accountability from those elected by the people to govern
- a decentralised, participatory and inclusive democracy
- absolute equality before the law
- an independent, democratically-appointed judiciary to uphold the new constitution and the rule of law
- a rejection of state violence both in Britain and abroad
- the right to self-determination of peoples and nations within and without Britain
- the promotion of equality and diversity internationally.
The rights set out below, which a new constitution would incorporate, should form the basis of the new democratic state:
Human and social rights
- the right to organise, associate, demonstrate and strike independently of the state
- the right to a representative electoral process in balance with a new participatory system and direct, democratic decision-making
- the right of minority communities to equality in all areas of social life
- the right to affordable housing for all those in need
- the right to free continuing education and training
- the right to health
- the right to information.
- the right to co-operative ownership in place of shareholder control
- the right to democracy and self-management in all areas/activities of the workplace
- the right to common land ownership in towns and rural areas.
- the right to live in an environment shaped by ecological care and not profits
- the right of nature, including human beings, to exist free from abuse and despoliation.
- the right to hold and use land held in common
- the right of communities to continuity of culture, traditions and habitat
- the right to the free movement of people.