About the Campaign

This campaign arises from a simple idea: that human beings flourish when they have control over their own lives.

We think that the vast majority of Scots realise that freedom and power is best exercised as a community. As lone individuals we can potentially do some good things but as groups of individuals we have so much more power, can create and build better, and have more fun. Working and organising in the interests of our friends and neighbours means they work in our interests too. By doing this we find out how capable we all are, building trust in ourselves and in each other to run our own places.

But we are not there yet. At the moment most of us have things done to us; power exercised over us by the government, by the council, or by companies who don’t work with our community interests at their core. This disempowers and patronises us.

The pandemic has given us a fresh insight into what we already knew about Scotland’s communities; people will sacrifice their time and resources to aid their neighbours. But that sense of community cannot be taken for granted. Now, more than ever, we need to revitalise and remake our local democracy. That is why we are asking you to ‘act as if you own the place’—if the citizens of a village, town, city or country don’t own it, then who does?

Communities can redesign their local democracy to work better for them, flourishing all the more by taking control of their community’s future.

Together we can ask the powerful to make way for us and build a movement for real democracy.

Who's already in?

Our Democracy is a loose and open coalition of organisations, campaigners and politicians who are dedicated to improving our local democracy. If you want to work with us, we want to hear from you.

Coalition members include:

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The People's Council

Get Involved

If democracy is about anything it is about us running our own affairs. That’s why we are calling for parties to enshrine a principle of local community power. By signing up to the Declaration on Local Democracy you can send a message that we must move power from distant cities and dusty chambers and into our neighbourhoods.

Following recent calls from the Citizens’ Assembly of Scotland to let people decide how they are governed locally, Our Democracy are calling for new powers for local communities to set up Citizens’ Assemblies, to regularly hold their councils to account – not just at election time.

We want the Scottish Government to introduce a genuinely ambitious Local Democracy Bill, that makes it easy for people to take power back to where they are.

We need to make sure communities are at the heart of a people-powered recovery. Communities coming together to make decisions for themselves not only makes for better decisions but these very acts strengthen the bonds of care and support. Strong, supportive, democratic communities are the only foundation on which to rebuild Scotland – A Future Built By Us And For Us.

Find out how local your local democracy is

Building Blocks

Sign our Declaration for Local Democracy

Cairn of stones

Declaration on Local Democracy

Democracy is the right for people to decide how the place where they live is run. For a hundred years this right has built our communities, our society and our sense of justice. But too few people now believe that this right is being honoured, too few believe that they decide and too many believe they are powerless and voiceless. So we call for a new democracy which is ready to help us build for a hundred years to come.

First, decisions must be made for each place, in that place by the people who live there. Our towns and villages must decide for themselves just as our nation must decide for itself. Power must exist at the scale of the community which is affected. We need our democracy much closer.

Second, the right to decide should not disappear each time the brief flicker of an election is over. Delegating our right to decide is not, in itself, enough. We must create a democracy that involves us all the time, where citizens do not just choose rulers but shape the rules.

Third, democracy must be powerful. The right to choose must be matched by the power to do – and the power to do must be matched with the resource to do it. Democracy is not gifted from above but from below, so power and resource must rest in the places where people live.

This is our simple vision for our future; a truly local democracy, a truly participatory democracy and a truly powerful democracy.

We have learned the lesson of our last hundred years; it is not enough that the future is built, it must be built for us. We must now learn a lesson for our next hundred years; it is not enough that the future is built for us, it must be built by us.

Publications

Act As If We Own The Place Report Cover

Highlighting the background, ideas, processes and outcomes of a collaborative experiment in local democracy run in collaboration with Coalfields Regeneration Trust.

Democracy Matters

Highlighting ERS Scotland and the Our Democracy Coalition’s vision for the future of local governance in Scotland.

Acting up already

send your own acting up stories to [email protected]

People in Denmark's cities got creative with their empty spaces

People in Denmark’s cities got creative with their empty spaces

Frome ripped up the rule book and revolutionised their local elections

Frome ripped up the rule book and revolutionised their local elections

The Swedish model shows the collective bargaining power of tenants

The Swedish model shows the collective bargaining power of tenants

People in Fintry use income from their wind turbine to build a more sustainable community

People in Fintry use income from their wind turbine to build a more sustainable community

After successfully reclaiming their land, the Misak indigeonous people of Colombia built a method for envisioning their collective future

After successfully reclaiming their land, the Misak indigeonous people of Colombia built a method for envisioning their collective future

Cumnock Action Plan provides a place for the community to set out their priorities in a coherent vision

Cumnock Action Plan provides a place for the community to set out their priorities in a coherent vision

People gathered to think about the future of their town centre in Dumfries

People gathered to think about the future of their town centre in Dumfries

High school pupils in Cochabamba experiment in how school representatives are elected

High school pupils in Cochabamba experiment in how school representatives are elected

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