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Thailand has an armed coup because the government stinks of corruption, Hungary has street protests because the Prime Minister admits he hasn't kept his promises. We just get the Blair-Brown soap opera, says Barbara Panvel...

There are serious problems in our education, public transport, health and planning systems, which are not being run in the interests of the general public. Those who suffer most are those who cannot buy better service - or afford high legal fees to contest planning decisions.

Voluntary groups have been set up to address these problems but their work has had very little effect on policy. Leaders in opposition were eager to listen and make promises, but once elected in 1997 the doors were closed and promises forgotten.

A million people travelling to London to oppose the UK's involvement in a war on Iraq were ignored.

Policy is made by a prime minister and unelected advisers who are not listening to these voices. Consultation is preached but autocracy is practised. Rank and file MPs, however concerned, have no influence.

People in general, being aware of this, feel powerless.

Clare Short has decided that she should to leave parliament to campaign for proportional representation - would this improve governance? Or is additional action needed as well?

In the 1970s, a pyramid system fed up through local, district and provincial committees to national levels in Mozambique. Could this model be adapted for our use?

Most areas have a community centre - the natural site for neighbourhood meetings. People who are prepared to meet there and discuss these concerns could forward recommendations.

These could be passed on to democratically elected assemblies which would replace the current unelected regional assemblies.

Top-down government by diktat could and should be replaced by bottom-up multilevel democratic decision-making.

Okay, it might sound like an idealist pipe-dream. But would it really be any worse than what we've got now?

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