John Harris

Journalist & Author

How Flatpack Democracy beat the old parties in the People’s Republic of Frome

On 7 May, a small Somerset town voted against traditional party politics and gave a coalition of independents control of all 17 seats on its council. As the crucible of ‘flatpack democracy’, Frome is leading a small-scale political revolution – and it’s one that is spreading

At this year’s Glastonbury, while some people get excited about the Foo Fighters and others loll around the Healing Field, one of the events in Billy Bragg’s politics-and-music Left Field tent will be devoted to a discussion of “Radical Movements”. The organisers have booked speakers from Greece’s governing party, Syriza, insurgent Spanish rebels Podemos and Scottish leftwing collective Radical Independence, all of whom will presumably give it some about the horrors of neoliberalism and the nitty-gritty of popular revolt. And then there will be the representative from Frome.

Somewhat incongruously, the speaker from the Somerset market town will be there to explain an idea known as “flatpack democracy”, and a small-scale revolution that has turned local politics there, and elsewhere, on its head.

Related: Somerset Share Shop offers a new kind of enterprise | Rachel Williams

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