In many contemporary polities, democracy is portrayed as a universal good, a democratic ideal appears to be spreading globally, its practice burgeoning; it seems to be appearing for the first time in some places and deepening in established democracies. Yet, when one looks for the concrete touch of democracy in one's own activities, groups, communities and nation it becomes elusive. I discuss this apparent contradiction in relation to discourse and a new "Area Forum" in the English city of Preston. The categories of 'global' and 'local', 'identity' and 'branding' prove useful in discussing the contradiction as situated in the English context. I suggest that this problem of democracy may be understood in terms of the ideological concept of 'democratism': the assumption that the status quo in England is unproblematically democratic whilst discursively closing off the possibility of genuine democratic progress.