The horrendous scenes in Washington when Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the Congress, costing five people their lives, have been rightly condemned.

They were extraordinary scenes, with an incumbent President seemingly supporting the action. Eventually the insurgents were repelled, allowing the Congress to get on with its work of the day, which was confirming Joe Biden and Kamila Harris as the next President and Vice President of the US. But it was a dangerous day for democracy.

Many forget that democracy in meaningful form is a relatively new concept.

Winston Churchill notably said: Parliamentary democracy is the worse form of government, except all the others that have been tried.

Our modern form of democratic government is dependent on having an informed and educated electorate.This is increasingly not the case.

Social media has enabled people to seal themselves off in silos, with fellow travellers, who do not question but reinforce false notions.

In the US - and to a lesser extent the UK - this has led to things like people dismissing Covid as a hoax and encouraging the non wearing of masks.

In the UK, the dissatisfaction of so many culminated in the Brexit vote.

What is needed is a reawakening at all levels of the democratic process. Churchill was right - it is not perfect but it is the best we’ve got.

Democracy will only work better if more people take an interest and get involved. People need to come forward to represent all levels of our communities - those avenues need opening.

People need to become better educated and informed. It is no good sitting on the sidelines expressing dissatisfaction on social media but never doing anything about it in the real world. That way, so many of us end up spectators on our own lives.

Events in the US provide a timely reminder as to just how fragile the vassal of democracy can be. It is though a precious thing that has cost many people their lives over the years.

Democracy offers the chance for people to have a real say in how they are governed and how they live their lives. Let’s wake up to that reality before it is too late.

Paul Donovan is a Redbridge Labour councillor for Wanstead village and blogger.