THE co-convener of the new Citizens’ Assembly says she hopes it will change the way politics is carried out in Scotland, as members met for the first time yesterday.

More than 100 people drawn from a cross-section of society gathered in Edinburgh for the first of six weekends to discuss issues around the future of the country.

Speaking to the Sunday National, co-convener Kate Wimpress said the current political climate was “very binary”.

She said: “It is not helping me understand how I want our society to be in the future, so I am hoping the Citizens’ Assembly could become a key pillar of the democratic processes in Scotland in the future.

“It’s a chance for people really to reflect on things in a respectful and supportive way and to move away from what I think is knee-jerk politics at the moment.”

Wimpress said politicians would be invited from “across the political spectrum” to form a panel and meet with the Citizens’ Assembly.

She added: “Without wanting to be too grandiose about it, I hope it changes the way we do politics in Scotland.”

The assembly was announced in April by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to discuss the major constitutional issues facing Scotland, with the pledge it will be independent of Government.

It was inspired by similar initiatives in Ireland to discuss divisive issues such as abortion.

Last week it emerged the cost of the Citizens’ Assembly has reached £1.4 million, which the Scottish Tories claimed was “hard to justify”.

The assembly has also faced claims from Unionists that it is a “talking shop” to further independence. However Wimpress described it as an “investment in democracy”.

She said: “The costs are broadly similar to the Citizens’ Assembly process that happened in Ireland.

“As a process we feel it is value for money and it is important the assembly members are resourced to allow them to make the best of this opportunity.”

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In his welcome address yesterday, co-convener David Martin, the former Labour MEP, said the aim was to make recommendations around the future of Scotland that will help the country move forward “as far as possible by agreement”.

He said while the backdrop of Brexit and a second independence referendum was vital, the task of the assembly was not to decide whether constitutional choices were “good or bad”.

He added: “The assembly is not about debating the general merits of constitutional outcomes, it is not about winning or losing these arguments.

‘‘It is not a platform for any political view or any political party, it not a substitute for proper process or decision making through elections or referendums.”