The birth of a grassroots democracy movement

Andy May
14 May 2010

I was at the purple people rally last Saturday.   It was something truly special.   I may be naïve, but after years working in the not for profit sector to often little avail it felt like the first genuine intervention of the people in a spontaneous outpouring of anger and desire for justice.

The result?   Electoral reform is on the table, even if only in the form of a AV referendum this is a massive achievement for all those who have suffered for years or decades from the vagaries of our ridiculous voting system.   Now let’s start pushing for more.


After the London rally and 6 others last Saturday, this Saturday sees over thirty taking place across the UK, from Penzance to Paisley. Join us. 

I truly hope this next set of rallies marks the beginning of a broader, deeper grassroots movement which can take on the entrenched interests which have lumbered us with an archaic voting system long past the time when it should have been ditched.

It certainly feels at the moment like that this hope can be realised.   The Take Back Parliament coalition has triggered the biggest and most widespread set of rallies for democracy since the suffragettes.  It seems that finally electoral reformers have moved out of the dusty corridors of thinktanks and university departments into mainstream popular mobilisation.

I hope you will be there to join us at this moment either in London – at 2pm in College Green, Westminster  - or one of the 30-plus rallies happening around the country.   As ever,  wear purple and make some noise for electoral reform!

Can there be a green populist project on the Left?

Many on the Left want to return to a politics based on class, not populism. They point to Left populist parties not reaching their goals. But Chantal Mouffe argues that as the COVID-19 pandemic has put the need for protection from harm at the top of the agenda, a Left populist strategy is now more relevant than ever.

Is this an opportunity for a realignment around a green democratic transformation?

Join us for a free live discussion on Thursday 22 October, 5pm UK time/12pm EDT.

Hear from:

Paolo Gerbaudo Sociologist and political theorist, director of the Centre for Digital Culture at King’s College London and author of ‘The Mask and the Flag: Populism and Global Protest’ and ‘The Digital Party: Political Organisation and Online Democracy’, and of the forthcoming ‘The Great Recoil: Politics After Populism and Pandemic’.

Chantal Mouffe Emeritus Professor of Political Theory at the University of Westminster in London. Her most recent books are ‘Agonistics. Thinking the World Politically’, ‘Podemos. In the Name of the People’ and ‘For a Left Populism’.

Spyros A. Sofos Researcher and research coordinator at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Lund University and author of ‘Nation and Identity in Contemporary Europe’, ‘Tormented by History’ and ‘Islam in Europe: Public Spaces and Civic Networks'.

Chair: Walid el Houri Researcher, journalist and filmmaker based between Berlin and Beirut. He is partnerships editor at openDemocracy and lead editor of its North Africa, West Asia project.

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