Boris Johnson’s election victory could have a profound effect on the GDF programme. Not necessarily by any direct intervention, but certainly in terms of the changing sociopolitical environment, into which RWM is attempting to birth the community engagement phase of the site selection process.
Aside from the obvious new governmental focus on regional and major infrastructure investment, which should help support RWM’s efforts, Johnson’s administration appears sympathetic to the growing clamour for a post-Brexit ‘democratic settlement’ – devolving decision-making power, so that more decisions affecting local people can be made at a local level.
As GDFWatch has long and consistently argued, the GDF’s consent-based decision-making framework offers a unique, new and very practical approach to testing and developing community-based models of democratic participation.
A new report by Cambridge University’s Centre for the Future of Democracy found that three in five people (60.3%) were dissatisfied with the functioning of the British democratic system. This supports previous evidence of general public discontent with how our democracy operates.
Since the General Election, there have been multiple calls from across the civil society sector for a focus on reform, eg:
Alongside these calls for democratic reform, there’s also an ever-growing evidence-base of how to engage and empower communities to help them tackle complex issues, eg:
This diverse evidence base, and the more general sociopolitical environment driving the demand for democratic change, go to the heart of how RWM might successfully engage with communities. Much will depend on how far the Johnson government is actually willing to address demands for democratic reform. The GDF siting process can provide a framework to test and trial new models for community-level decision-making.
As Dominic Cummings has noted, administrations should tackle difficult issues and decisions at the start of their 5-year electoral cycle – and what could be more contentious and difficult than a GDF?