Localism, devolution and decentralisation are currently key buzz words right across Whitehall and town halls throughout the country. Now whilst it is very important that these words evolve into effective policy (and do so for places beyond the major cities and city regions), it is, in my view, equally important that the move upwards to local government does not stop at the town or county hall but extends even further, up to communities and neighbourhoods.
Since the Conservative party "won" the UK general election on May 7th, people have taken to the streets across the UK in a defiant display of disenchantment with the electoral system and the austerity consensus of the major political parties. The prospect of 5 more years of crippling austerity has prompted many to reclaim the future of UK politics.
For the Green Party the maths is simple. Our more than 1.1million votes would, under a proportional system, have delivered 24 seats. Instead we got just one - the return of the brilliant MP for Brighton Pavilion, Caroline Lucas. In a multiparty democracy first-past-the-post, a failed system for decades, is clearly comprehensively out of date.
People in favour of reform can't agree and thus anti-reformists have the upper hand. Despite this, I still believe that we need to have open debates about the future of our electoral system and that we need to look in to ways of altering it to make it more representative. While simple country-wide PR is not the answer, neither is rejecting reform altogether.
It is time for voices across the political spectrum to speak up about the vital changes we need to our democratic system. Our democracy needs to reflect the opinions and voices of every citizen. Every voice must matter. Every vote must count. Political party's obsessions with the financial deficit ignores an even greater problem in our society - our democratic deficit.
We need major reform to ensure May's increased representation of women doesn't become a new 'glass ceiling'. Reforming our archaic voting system, and encouraging wider citizen participation in parties and democracy more generally, could help ensure that the progress we are likely to see this May is not the end of the story.
What we have is bland and complacent two-dimensional politics, where Tories and Labour vie for a mythical centre ground and target policies at handfuls of voters in marginal seats. A fairer system would genuinely shake this consensus and could help diminish the concept of the protest vote, sidelining those who play the system only to stoke fear, hatred and suspicion.
If the Conservatives win the next general election, they will make any industrial action illegal unless a minimum of 40% of eligible members participate in the vote. Fair enough, some will say. I am not against the principle of democratic thresholds per se, but I feel that they can only truly work within a system that is underpinned by equity and fairness...