It seems clear to me that our way of engaging in political debate and decision-making is bust. Watching the Scottish independence referendum in 2014, the general election in 2015, and the EU referendum in 2016, the same tired patterns and unhealthy behaviours are evident. I'm sure they have their roots much further back but the vitriol, crudeness and self-serving interests have come to dominate the debates.

Our politics is dominated by methods that are confrontational, oppositional, argumentative, and hostile. The campaigns that play out on our TV screens are based upon shouting, slogans, incomplete truths, insults, project fears, supporter gangs, lies, thinly-concealed hate-stirring, assertions instead of facts, spin, abuse of power, and constantly repeated mantras that do nothing to address the more complex factors that underlie almost all the most central issues being raised. There is a 'race to the bottom' to whip up what often looks like mob support. This is duality politics: two opposing forces lining up to attack each other. And all dualities are simplistic and reductionist. They are inescapably win/lose, right/wrong, left/right, in/out, yes/no. No other option is possible. One side will triumph. The other will be defeated, no matter how small the margin of 'victory'.

What does this remind you of? Warfare. This is the classic model of battles throughout history - whether that be massed armies facing each other across some open fields, or remote drones firing missiles at vehicle convoys, or insurgents engaged in street fighting with troops.

Our political 'democracy' has made very little progress in five thousand years if it still uses the tactics of battle. At best, this is warfare-with-rules. But even those rules are being ignored - politeness, respect, truth and dialogue are all being dispenses with.

And in the process, the things that most ordinary people care about are increasingly ignored. The questions that people ask simply don't get answered (What currency will be use? Where do you plan to make the cuts? What trading agreement will you seek to negotiate? How will my living standrd be affected?). People's range of individual concerns don't get heard - because there is no forum in which they can be listened to. Everything is cut-off, time-limited, reduced to a sound-bite or a slogan, balanced with an opposing view, or simply edited out as not being reflective of the Top 3 Topics.

We have become so used to the present ways of political campaigning that we think this is the norm - and that no other methods have ever, or could, exist. There have always been alternative ways of engaging in debate and decision-making.

I particularly favour The Way of Council. This is an ancient process, rooted in historical and tribal communities. At it's heart are several core intentions. The purpose of sitting in Council is to seek wisdom. We don't hear much about 'wisdom' today; it's drowned out by argument. Council is a way of seeking the collective wisdom that lies within the group instead of the depending on the claims and authority of single leaders. It relies upon listening to each other - actually hearing what's important to the other people in the Council, paying attention to it consciously, and taking it into your own consideration. In Council, only one person is permitted to speak at a time and the majority are engaged in active listening.

A Council looks different. Men and women are gathered in a circle. There are no 'sides'. It is communal and egalitarian. A talking stick or totem is passed around the circle. Only the person holding the totem is permitted to speak; everyone else listens to the concerns, feelings and questions of the speaker. Each contribution is acknowledged respectfully and usually followed by a short period of reflective silence for that contribution to settle. Points and questions are rarely answered directly; successive contributions are often widely divergent in nature; there is no to-and-fro of argument; one person's views are not denigrated; the conversation is expansive rather than reductionist; ideas are created and options identified. The dialogue in Council is inclusive and respectful; differences are aired; diverse experiences are welcome. Some participants may be older or more experienced and this may confer a degree of elder-hood on them, yet they too demonstrate a concern to listen and appreciate the views of the newest members of the Council.

Yes, this can take time. The token may pass around the group several times. Repetitious contributions are discouraged. The Council is seeking to delve beneath the surface issues to uncover what is truly important. This is a search for wisdom. A wisdom that lies in the collective understanding of the group, including it's history and their ancestors. Wisdom is far greater than the personal views of any one person.

Towards the end, a few Council members will endeavour to draw the threads together and state the wisdom arising from the Council. If there is no clarity, the matter may be deemed not ready for decision at this time. Everyone can depart knowing they have been heard and acknowledged.

Versions of Council can be found around the world in different communities and gatherings. We still use the word 'Council' to describe several corporate structures, and we sit their members in a circle, even when their debating methods have diverged far from the classic style. Tribal groups still use it as their 'parliament'. Several residential communities employ it very successfully. I'm involved with Radical Faeries and men's work movements where Council is the way of making decisions. The Society of Friends (Quakers) uses something similar to Council for all it's business meetings.

Our present political process is discredited and disfunctional. There are alternatives which hold out the possibility of re-engaging men and women in the decisions that affect all our lives.