"There is one school of thought which claims that it's best to forget Westminster, given its miserable failures to regulate itself or the City. Political parties are charades operating antediluvian parliamentary systems; the best chance of renewal is in the myriad of community organising across the country. It's become almost de rigueur to genuflect at the potential of the grassroots. The argument runs that this will gather strength and organisational capacity, and eventually feed back a reformed politics to the centre.
It sounds authentic and impeccably democratic, but the communitarianism cited, while admirable and transformational to those involved, offers frail green shoots. Compass, London Citizens or Transition are all inspirational initiatives, but they are tiny. Their growth is hard won and vulnerable to setbacks. Though I would be happy to be proved wrong, they seem to be more a measure of our desperation with mainstream politics than a credible politics of renewal."