Is the decline of conversational local democracy really a big problem?

Here’s former New Statesman & Society editor Stuart Weir (now with Democratic Audit) on the dangers that arise as a result of the BNP being allowed a toehold in local politics.

“Wilks-Heeg analyses electoral data research findings from Burnley to argue convincingly that the BNP’s breakthrough constitutes a stark warning about the “advanced state of decay of local representative government in England”.  Conventional analysis still insists that there is no need to be alarmed by the BNP, arguing that it hasn’t a large enough membership to stand candidates across the country and that the support it gains is little more than a sporadic “protest vote”.”

The conclusion is no less alarming:

“The BNP may not be “one crisis away from power”, as Nick Griffin likes to boast. But with profound economic instability upon us, they may well be nearer to the hearts and minds of many more people in local areas across the country.”

The need to revitalise local democracy is hugely important for every aspect of our lives. It’s always enjoyable to read commentators complaining about the latest infringement of our ancient freedoms, but any of these liberties would become but distant memories if the likes of the BNP were major political players in the UK.

Many of us who are working in this sphere are aware that there are a great many bureaucratic obstacles that are placed in the path of democratic renewal. It’s time for them to be removed.