“People are waiting to be asked to do something big to win something big”.
Big Organizing (a book about the volunteer-led Bernie Sanders campaign)
The Campaign Vision:
The Big Picture
We need to do this. We need structural change and community self-reliance due to social and economic inequality, a broken democracy, and the global climate crisis. Local elections are accessible and achievable opportunities for genuine structural, economic and political change. Community-run councils can do amazing things! They are also more effective at providing local support in times of crisis (pandemic, food crisis, ecological crisis, and financial crisis).
We can do this. Town / parish councils are easy – and fun! – to reclaim with a bit of local organising. District and county are more difficult, but it’s totally possible if we come together. We just need to get the “how to win a local council election” know-how to the people who are already active in their community. This is a campaign to do exactly that in a big way.
“I’m not aware of anyone who’s tried to do this at parish level and hasn’t been successful”
Pam Barrett, Be Buckfastleigh (Independents group in Devon)
Putting mentors in touch with mentees. Peter Macfadyen, author of the Flatpack Democracy book, is already supporting people interested in running an independents campaign. We’re onboarding a larger group of mentors from reclaimed councils who can provide a similar service, linking them up with new campaigners in the same area/region.
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?
People not parties. Pro-independents, anti-party politics. “Beyond left and right” (because this allows us to achieve more, through community-led participatory democracy – unlike our broken representative democracy). This also means welcoming people from all backgrounds (political, cultural, economic, religious) if they buy into the ethos and methods of flatpack democracy.
A new way of doing local politics. Promoting democracy in UK councils through community engagement, participation and deliberation.
Bringing life, humanity and humour back into politics. It doesn’t have to stuffy, dead and boring. We want our councillors to be real people who understand our everyday lives as the people of the UK.
Councils can do so much more and the flatpack pioneers have proved it. We want to shift people’s perception of what councils are for and what they can do. We want to show them what’s possible when the community runs the council.
Promoting and supporting flatpack (i.e. democratic party-independent) campaigns at all levels of government in May 2021 (town, parish, district, county, mayoral, police & crime commissioner).
Power to the people. Communities are filled with talented and intelligent people who understand what is broken and how to fix it – far better than any party politicians. We want to put those people into power as our councillors. We want to give them the knowledge and support to win local elections and to transform the way their councils are run. Helping people realise “If they can do it, we can do it”.
We have no agenda but your agenda! We trust the people to address the issues that matter to them and to make them part of their campaigns.
Promoting general engagement and participation in local elections.
Principles and values.
We’re using the values to make sure we’re supporting groups of people who are on the roughly same page about the positive change we need. Preliminarily these are:
Participation / Democracy,
Non Party Politics – supporting independents,
Diversity and Inclusivity (empowering marginalised groups through local democracy and election to local government)
Collaboration – working with what’s there via existing groups and organisations
Local community empowerment
Humour – keeping it light, fun and enjoyable
We are ludicrously ambitious.
Inclusivity and Diversity in councils. We want to support all councillors to challenge and deconstruct the systemic oppressions of racism, sexism, classism. We want to see more women, BAME and working class councillors. And we want to empower and support these people to make real changes in local politics once they’re elected.
How are independents going to beat established parties in local elections? Our winning card against powerful political parties is the authenticity of local voices and our ability to organise en masse, quickly and democratically (i.e. in ways where every voice is heard). Volunteer-led digital organising is a key piece here.
A campaign of campaigns: the aim of the national digital campaign is to help 1000s of regular people/communities to launch and win their own local elections campaigns. Updates from local campaigns feed into the national campaign, and the national campaign promotes and supports the local campaigns.
A volunteer-led campaign. The core team have created a scaffold (communication channels, resources, media outlets etc.) that now allows many volunteers to easily get involved. Volunteers are directed to a list of simple ways to get involved. They are encouraged and empowered to self-organise and to take initiative – everyone is a leader. We recruit/identify regional organisers of the campaign who can take up the task of helping activate campaigns in the up-for-grabs wards.
Collaboration. Working with existing indie councils/councillors, national organisations and community groups to get the Flatpack know-how to the communities who can use it in May 2021. So this campaign is not contacting voters directly. We’re letting locals do that themselves with their local council election campaigns. We’ll do the work contacting the community organisers, mutual aiders and regular people who will actually want to kickstart local campaign in the first place, and helping them get off the ground.
Media and Messaging. Use Facebook, Twitter, Trust the People, to promote the campaign and share the resources. Using press (national and local level) and media to generate publicity. Stories about campaign successes will be central to the messaging; all volunteers are invited to share these through the campaign media channels.
Advise and support communities in running their first campaign. Putting mentees in touch with mentors (people who have experience in reclaiming their council).