I'm a retired person who's come to the realisation that our democracy is badly broken: the electoral system is unfair, our politicians are caught up in a system where they have little impact, and the big corporations gain ever more power and wealth. As someone who loves working in teams, and wants to make a difference, I'm doing all I can to help reinvigorate decentralised grassroots democracy. So here's a crazy idea.
All of us who live in London are worried about London's housing crisis. Whether we're homeless, or live in pleasant areas with children who'll one day need a home - whether we can't afford to move out from our parents' home, or we're paying exorbitant sums for a room in a shared house. We must find a way to site more homes; and to make them affordable for all groups of society.
We can do it together!
Richmond is one borough that's involving people in creating 'village' plans for Richmond, Teddington, Twickenham etc. At the 'village' meeting I attended over 200 people turned up. You could go to different tables to talk about different issues, and move from table to table when you felt like it.
Why couldn't we get every 'village' in London talking and agreeing fair principles for allocating more housing space? Then getting together in borough and London-wide forums to hammer out and agree these principles? Of course, experts and politicians should be there to inform and explain. But we, the people, are more than capable of working this out responsibly together. All of us feel shame that we allow others to live on the street, and in cramped and expensive conditions.
We could then share out the agreed target to each borough and 'village'. (Boris Johnson's current target is to build 42,000 home each year - Sadiq Khan's is 80,000 a year, and Zac Goldsmith's is 50,000 a year by 2020.) Then it would be down to the local village meeting to agree where their share is to be sited.
All this would be supported by
- web discussion sites for each forum
- a data browser giving access to all relevant aspects of London wide housing data offering displays in maps, charts and tables
- expert facilitation and design of the process from the likes of people who did NHS Citizen so well
- live streaming and reporting of all events
Direct democracy like this is the new future. People talking face to face, speaking with passion, and listening with empathy. Then others, watching it and reading about it, can browse the data, see it in maps and tables; decide for themselves what is fair and contribute their views too.
Let's persuade both Zac Goldsmith and Sadiq Khan to include this in their manifestos - so that we, the people of London, can really Solve London's Housing Crisis Together!