Can Democracy Work? is a three part series for Radio 4 fronted by the BBC’s Political Editor Nick Robinson. The first episode was felt to be “a disappointment” in the Telegraph’s who felt it had “only scratched the surface” – and I basically agree, though am content to wait until the final episode before a final judgement. My gripe so far would be that the focus was entirely on parliamentary democracy, with too much time given to Nick’s well publicised spat with Russell Brand on whether people should vote at all – I’m sure their argument was entirely created to draw attention to the programme!
At least one group of individuals in Frome think democracy is worth engaging with – there are already an excessive number of candidates for Independents for Frome to put up a full coverage of seats in May. My case would be that this is because they have seen democracy working – councillors escaping from the ideologies of irrelevant political parties in 2011 have carved a path of achievement for the town since then. A key failing of the lower levels of democracy in the UK (and hence why it largely doesn’t work) has been a catastrophic lack of capable candidates.
I and Council Leader Mel Usher have contributed to Can Democracy Work? and we’ll know in a few weeks whether our views on grassroots democracy hit the airwaves, or have hit the cutting room floor. (Episodes 2 and 3 are at 9.00am and 21.30 on January 20th and 27th).