Archive - May 2017

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My kind of manifesto.
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Dogs, mines and parties.
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Where the politics is….

My kind of manifesto.

I was invited by The Alternative UK to provide my own take on an ideal manifesto for these elections.  This was framed to improve on those put forward by the political parties.  I’ve said I can’t do this.

I’ve had enough of playing along with the farce of our election system, and the fictional wish-lists that political parties produce are the sharp edge of the nonsense so many of us play into every few years.  Apparently the Tories broke 20 promises in the last 2 years (admittedly the Mirror may not be a totally reliable source….. but ‘lots’ will do) and no party is able to keep their promises; any coalition will have to compromise and not do what they said; new policy is added because things change; and pre election lies just seem to be the norm…. so we end up arguing about speculative desires.

What I can do is say how I want those in power to behave together and in relation to the public.  This is one of the ways our Campfire Conversation in Frome turned last week where Pete Lawrence joined us to light the fire…… then Pat and Indra of Alternative UK (along with a clutch of Frome’s artists) deepened our look at reimagining politics.  A chance to ‘catapult our bubbles into the dewy dawn’ as Liv Talk so perfectly described it in her summing up poem.

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Dogs, mines and parties.

Chris Hood sent me this ‘Story of the Haswells Community Party’ last week.  I publish it in full to offer you an alternative to the farce that masquerades as democratic process which currently dominates the media:


The saying goes that you could stick a red rosette on a passing dog in some parts of the North East and it would get elected.  Analysis of the last six General Elections shows there is plenty of truth in that often-heard phrase.

Well in just 13 weeks, nine people came together with their family and friends to help generate a 40% turnout out of voters, the third highest in County Durham, and complete a clean sweep in the Haswell Parish Council elections, replacing the entire council and its chairman – a standing Labour county councillor.

All in a place where there hadn’t been a parish council election for over a decade.

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Where the politics is….

I’ve really been enjoying my politics this last week!  While the French election results drifted past, the various mayoral and county council elections happened, and vast amounts of energy went into the pacts, facts and alternative truths of the Westminster election.  My attention has been elsewhere.

I’ve been at the epicentres of uprising.  With Indy Monmouth, who’s magnificent seven are the largest group on the council after their whirlwind campaign.  With Ideal Bradford, 10/10 for effort, campaign, humour…. and 10 seats won in Bradford on Avon. And with The Haswells Community Party, who  generated the third highest turnout in County Durham, and  a clean sweep in their elections, replacing the entire council and its chairman – a standing Labour county councillor – 13 weeks after they first came together (full story coming up later).

Amongst these 26 people there is a spectrum of experience, views, beliefs and differences.  What they have in common is a desire to spend some time getting deeper into the issues of their community and responding to what they hear without any constraints, ideology or instructions from political parties.

I know there are many more – especially in revolutionary Durham.  There are also many places where independents have stood against the system and found how hard it is to broach the walls of the higher levels of government.  Well done the Cynon Valley Party which  came second in 8 wards and first where Gavin Williams was elected as their first councillor.  But their real triumph includes holding 38 public meetings; nearly 300,000 viewings of their videos; 2250 Facebook followers and developing a positive vision for their valley which is out there snapping at the heels of the party politicians.

Just by standing as independents – elected or not –  ‘ordinary’ people have changed the shape of  local democracy, moving it towards real interaction between community and local government and reclaiming politics for the people.

Copyright © Peter Macfadyen 2014