I spent an hour of yesterday evening talking with a group of ‘ordinary people’. I use those inverted commas with intent, because that’s a meaningless term in so many ways. This was a group of people somewhere in the east of England, sat on their sofas discussing how to reconnect what matters to them, with local political decision making. They are ‘ordinary’ only in the sense of not being what most of us expect politicians to look like.
In this particular case, most of them are already local councillors who do not represent any Political Party. They work hard to include and engage with groups in the town and to really understand people’s needs. Their problem is that a significant number of other councillors are members of a particular national Political Party, and this comes a strong determination to keep spending down and taxes low. The result is that the town is winding slowly down when the need for resources to bring in the enthusiasm and skills that exist has never been greater.
The group on the sofa are just one of many all over the country who have had enough. They will find others in their town to stand with them in elections early next year and hopefully will join those that have found a way to extricate themselves from the stranglehold of irrelevant Party ideology. That’s just the first step, but with enthusiasm, aspirations and risk taking it is possible to get out of what seems like an impossible situation. By working with local people rather than dictates from above they can really make changes…. and do ‘politics’ in a totally different way.
I’m off to Byline Festival in Sussex now, to listen to a lot of hopefully interesting people, and to take part in a discussion with three Spanish politicians who just a few months ago were ‘ordinary people’ looking for better ways to do things – and now run cities.