Following a competitive tendering process, a contract worth £25,000 was awarded to Mark Diffley Consultancy and Research Ltd. The recruitment of members has concluded and the assembly met for the first time on 26 and 27 October. Members are being paid a gift of thanks for participating in the assembly, as well as being supported to attend the assembly regardless of their geographic location, their need for childcare and other caring responsibilities, or their other needs for support. The total cost of payments to members and conveners, including support for travel and subsistence, is £339,600.
With the Scottish Parliament costing more than £250,000 a day, would not it be better, more democratic and more effective if the Scottish National Party Government were to start listening to the Scottish electorate, rather than creating yet another costly group to blame for its failed policies?
I regret that Gordon Lindhurst has that curmudgeonly approach to democracy. I encourage him to meet members of the Citizens Assembly; I am sure that its conveners would be happy to meet him. I had the privilege of meeting them on Saturday night here in Edinburgh, when I was bowled over by their commitment to, engagement in and energy and enthusiasm for being involved in Scottish democracy. That is to be commended—not condemned. Mr Lindhurst might want to consider whether what he has said encourages or discourages participation in democracy.