In this episode we spoke with Peter Macfadyen, one of the architects behind Flatpack Democracy, a do-it-yourself guide to creating independent politics. Macfadyen is the former mayor of the small town of Frome in the U.K., which we explored in depth in our series on Frome. In many ways he is a legendary figure in the world of local politics in the U.K. As the story goes, a group of frustrated Frome residents were having a pint at their local pub, grumbling about politics. An old story, perhaps. But this one ends very differently: A few years later, and they had completely taken over. Of course, it’s a bit more complicated than that, but after running as independents on a platform of rejecting party politics, these political misfits won 10 of 17 town council seats and the mayorship in their first election. And the second time around, they won all 17 seats. A complete revolution.
They’re known as the Independents of Frome, and their goal is to take back politics by bringing power back down to the local level. This means rejecting everything that Westminister — the equivalent of the White House — stands for. No more blind affiliation to parties and to partisan politics. No more inaction in the face of climate change. No more bureaucracy. No more pomp. No more business as usual.
In this interview, Macfadyen tells his story and describes some of the very exciting initiatives that the town of Frome has been able to launch in the last few years. We also talk about local and national politics, the dynamics of gentrification or regeneration, and much more.