So you think you want to get started? Let’s set off in the right direction:
You will work closely with others who want to drag your local council into the 21st century, who believe Party Politics has no place at a local level and who see the potential for reclaiming politics for the community. You might stand for election yourself or be part of the team that supports your candidates. We suggest you do what other successful groups have done and follow the tried and tested Flatpack Democracy road map – adapting it to suit your needs as you go. We at Flatpack 2021 will be on hand with mentors, resources and a national network of like-minded people to help and support you.
Click Here to get started.
Flatpack 21s goals are ambitions! We believe every community has the right and need for a better system of democracy. To take the ideas and support out we will need Regional Organisers throughout the UK. They will reach out to existing groups and organisations and be the first stop for help and support to local groups. An exciting job for a special person.
Message Us for more details.
Everyone on FP21 is doing it because we believe it needs doing and are voluntary
We need support with everything from simple admin tasks through to professional help, whether you have run campaigns, or already work to build a democracy, or are someone with a few hours to spare and are inspired by the need to build from the bottom up……get in touch.
Town councils can do almost anything that is legal and affordable. Theywork on those issues big and small which the bigger councils do not havethe time or resources to prioritise. They aim to bring back pride in thetown, sort out things which residents notice and care about, and saveservices at risk from cuts. They concentrate on the needs of the town andengage with local people and organisations about their priorities, andwhat innovations are needed to make a difference.
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.
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
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