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What is a People's House? The demand made by Keir Starmer's glittery conference protester

Keir Starmer's Labour conference speech was interrupted by a protester calling for a "People's House'. Here's what he was talking about

Keir Starmer, People's House

Starmer continued his speech, covered in glitter, after the protester was led away. Image: ITV News

Just as Keir Starmer took to the podium for his speech to the Labour Party conference in Liverpool, he was accosted by a protester calling for a “People’s House”.

Pouring glitter over the Labour leader, the as-yet-unknown protester declared: “True democracy is citizen-led. Politics needs an update. We demand a People’s House.”

Starmer declared himself unbothered by the protester and continued his speech covered in glitter. But what is a People’s House? Let us explain.

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Who was behind the Keir Starmer Labour Party Conference protest?

Briefly visible in the clip, before he was bundled off by security, the protester was wearing a t-shirt with the slogan “People Demand Democracy”.

It’s the slogan of a new campaign group, calling for a “fair, proportional voting system for Westminster elections and a permanent, legally-binding national House of Citizens, selected by democratic lottery”.

Seemingly affiliated with Just Stop Oil – who distributed information about the group to journalists in a press release – a spokesperson for People Demand Democracy said it was a response to distrust in politics.

“The people of the UK are more disillusioned by the state of our politics than at any time in living memory – look at the polls. After years of battling over Brexit, lockdown parties, abuse claims, crumbling public services and crashing living standards, people are sick to the back teeth of politicians. And we are furious there is no way to make our voices heard. This has got to change,” the spokesperson said.

“We need a democratic alternative that gives the people of the UK a voice to deal with the major challenges of our time: rampant inequality, an escalating climate crisis, political corruption and on. But what do we have instead? A Labour Party offering very little in terms of real change.”

The as-yet-unnamed protester, in remarks made before storming the stage, said everybody needed a seat at the table.

“The Labour Party has been captured, donors and lobbyists have more control over Keir Starmer than his members. A House of Citizens will force politicians to listen to people, it dismantles their relationships with the rich, it would create meaningful change in our economy and fix inequality,” the protester said.

“It would address the climate and ecological emergency and transform our country. It would listen to scientists and communities and unearth consensus, not profit off conflict and division.”

What is a People’s House?

In Australia, a trial “People’s House” ran from November 2022 to May 2023, introducing the concept of a People’s House in Canberra. The idea is to involve a wide range of voters, with forums bringing them together with politicians, who can gain a deeper and more representative idea of the important issues to their voters.

Beyond making their voices known at elections, it is a way for constituents to engage in politics.

It was introduced by DemocracyCo, which says it “gives members of parliament new tools to build trust and engage their electorates in the democratic process” and is the “future of representative democracy”. The forum improves trust in politics and politicians, says DemocracyCo.

Following the initial trial, it is set to expand to all federal politicians.

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The People’s House is similar to ideas like a citizens assembly, which is a key demand of Extinction Rebellion. The first UK-wide citizens assembly was held in 2019, with parliament commissioning a selection of members of the public meeting to hear evidence and discuss solutions to the climate crisis before producing a report.

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