What is Flatpack 2021?

In a nutshell: a decentralised campaign to support thousands of non-party community councillors to win seats in council elections in May 2021, directing them to the resources/information to run a successful campaign.

We believe councils should be run by local communities, for local communities. We want to help people reclaim their councils from party politicians and put real people back in control. We’re aiming to catalyse a mass movement of independent councillors whose sole aim is to carry out the wishes and wills of their local community. Our big goal is that every council election in May 2021 is won by an independent community-led group.


This is the perfect time. In light of COVID-19 communities have come together like never before, forming mutual aid networks to support themselves. Many of these community groups have found their councils difficult to work with – why not take them back?

We’re a bunch of regular people around the country who are coming together to take back power in May 2021, when there are 1000s of local council elections.

We want to see the majority of councils in the UK run by independent councillors whose sole agenda is to carry out the ideas and wishes of local communities. Beyond Left and Right, this is a new kind of politics and a new democracy, run by the people, for the people.

We’re building a better system from the bottom up. Join us!

Why “flatpack”?
Because this is a method for taking back your council that can be taken and set up anywhere, quickly and easily – just like flatpack furniture!



Accordion Content
Short Answer
Our political system means only a very few people make decisions for the rest of us, without really knowing what’s needed or what is going on. Our local councils are largely ineffective but can be reactivated to work with communities to understand and act on those needs, reclaiming politics for the people.

Long Answer
Personally I no longer vote in national elections. Yes, I know millions all over the world are fighting and dying for this right, as they did in the UK until very recently. But the truth is, in nearly every case we have been fobbed off with something that is very far from democracy as most people understand it. A ‘democracy’ in which their vote makes no difference. A few thousand votes in a handful of constituencies will swing an election. I live in a place with one of the largest Party majorities in the country. My vote won’t change that and I have the luxury of not taking part in a process I consider morally bankrupt. However, I’ll happily vote in a local election. There is a very good chance I’ll get a choice of people who tell me what they plan for my community. I can find out if they plan to make decisions for me, or build a relationship with my community by listening and learning. I can vote for people who are independent of national political parties because I want them to make decisions based on local needs and knowledge, not National Party ideology. These independents are the ones I seek out at a local level. Over the last few months we have seen strong local groups emerging to co-ordinate incredibly important and meaningful actions to support those most hit by Covid19. Where there have been well functioning local councils, they have been able to work with these groups as well as take their own actions, and in doing so making a real difference. On the other hand there are far too many examples of where councils have been totally sidelined simply because they are simply unfit to deal with the scale of the challenge their community faces. It is a fact that most local councils don’t even have elections because there are not enough people prepared to stand. Looking at how some councils operate you can well see why they struggle to attract quality applicants or candidates. They are lumbered with systems and regulations that seem designed to solely maintain the status quo. No wonder turnout at elections is utterly pathetic. But it doesn’t have to be like that. Tradition has its place, but all too often is peer pressure from dead people. Most of the rules can be changed. But this will only happen if many, many more people work together to encourage good candidates then vote for them. Covid19 has shown that people working together can do astonishing things and these are the kind of people I want in my council and these are the people I want to vote for.

Short Answer
Local councils in England can do anything that is legal. Raise taxes, borrow, spend, buy…. Currently most are ludicrously un-ambitious and do very little, but it doesn’t have to be like that.

Long Answer
In around 10,000 places, all over Britain, groups of people meet every month or so to make decisions that directly affect their local community. Most of the people not in these groups don’t even know they exist. Those that know mostly don’t care or believe that what they do is largely irrelevant. But these parish and community councils are the hidden force that could potentially create the type of democracy many of us are desperate for. When the Greeks cooked up ‘democracy’ they were talking about power resting with the people. This didn’t just mean a vote every four years, almost no consultation and scraps of information from those who really pulled the strings. It meant most people, regularly, asking for things that then happened. So where is the link between the sleepy, ineffective parish and community councils most of us don’t know about, and real people power? Firstly, these councils can decide they actually want to work with the people in their community, rather than just make decisions for them. Secondly, they have the power to raise local taxes and spend them with on the things people want and need. Thirdly, they can decide to help build and support local voluntary groups with staff time and money. They can work together with them to bring in more funds from groups like the National Lottery. In fact, as long as the clerk who works for the council has some basic qualifiations, these local councils can do anything they like as long as it is legal. They can borrow money, run social enterprises, promote activities of all kinds, buy land….. The challenge is that most people have no idea what can be done. So not enough people with vision and drive try to get elected onto these. So the people in power carry on doing what they’ve always done – which is very little except mince about in fancy dress and open fetes. Now, while that might have been sort of OK a few decades ago, the ravages of austerity followed by Covid19 mean that local areas are massivly under-resourced and are struggling to replace services that might have once been provided by ‘higher’ levels of councils. Brexit and Climate Change are lining up to increase the pressure. We need to find ways of breaking this circle of missed opportunity. And the answer is simple – get ourselves elected, then work together for the benefit of our communites

Short Answer
Old male white middle class people can do a great job of understanding what old white middle class people need. Local councils can be rebuilt to reflect the communities they work in, but throwing stones from the outside will only break windows.

Long Answer
Given that, for right or wrong, we live in a capitalist society, it has meant you have to acquire things – houses, cars, electric toothbrushes and so on to be considered a success.. to acquire these you need to earn money and how much you earn tends to become the key measure of success. Of course there people who volunteer, often the old or well-off, so that they can put something back into society, But it is young people who have to put every effort into ensuring they are on the ladder to gain qualifications, employment and a decent place to live. Then once they are earning, there are saddled with loads of responsibilities and expenses that mean for a few decades they have no energy left for anything voluntary. And things like becoming a local councillor is a voluntary activity: it’s a bit like becoming a school governor or the Bored (and I do mean bored) of the Hospital Friends. There is a glaring and fundamental flaw in this scenario. Many of positions in our communities are voluntary but they have great power and influence. We allow the vast majority of these positions to be held by elderly white middle class, usually men, who perpetuate the views and desires of, well…., elderly, white, middle class men. It’s not their fault. They make decisions based on their own experiences. This means that if the young, women and people of non-white backgrounds don’t seriously engage , we will continue to see their views not heeded and their needs not acted upon. There is a chicken and egg issue in here, The systems, language and culture of many of the places, like local councils, where decisions are made frustrates and excludes those who might otherwise get involved. In some cases this is deliberate, but usually it’s not. What we need is. people, who are not the usual suspects, to step up and show the way. Often they have a really hard time of it – pioneering is never easy. But there are great examples now of where people have hung in there and brought different ethnicity, gender and age to these bastions of conservatism and they have made real changes. They also need to know there is a growing number at community council levels who are ready to up the challenge. But we need still more and the Flatpack2021 campaign is there to let them know they are not alone and that support is there for them. Help is just a click away

The Citizen’s Assembly is a quite complex affair with people chosen from the community by sortition. To do it well for a community of around 30,000 would cost about £20K. I suspect you meant ‘People’s assembly’ to which the answer would be ‘yes’

It’s where everything people need is within a 15 min walk, school, health, work, everything. Paris is redesigning itself along those lines

Peter Macfadyen says:
My reply would be to think through what you are offering. My ideal is that you are saying

1) this is how we as a group of individuals will work together and this is how we will work with you – the community.

2) This means lots of REAL participation and engagement from which you form your constantly evolving manifesto.

So, while you may want broad areas of ‘manifesto’ that are hard to disagree with, like ‘We will take actions to make Bude cleaner and greener’ …. don’t do more than that. Amongst other things, you will deter possible candidates who may have other priorities – even if they share those green ideals.

Peter Macfadyen says:
Yes! The second Flatpack book is all about that. Holding the ‘ways of working’ and keeping to the ideals is really hard

Peter Macfadyen says:
It is harder, but there are some great examples of ‘Flatpackery’ making inroads. If you want to take that route register through the website and we can put you in touch with others.

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site and contents © 2020 Flatpack Democracy | built by EightySix Design