Party Leader Loz Kaye rounded off the successful, fun, and productive conference at Manchester's Museum of Science and Industry. In his speech to members and delegates, described by Jamie Bartlett of Demos, as "Most angry party leader speech I've ever seen", he set out some of the key themes of the past year and priorities for the way ahead.He pointed out that the venue was an appropriate one for the conference saying:
“Museums and libraries are the original Pirates. Freeing up knowledge. Freeing up culture. Because it allows everyone to take part not just an elite.”
He called for the country to embrace new technologies like 3D printing, for proper investment in broadband, real delivery from the rural broadband programme, wider rolling out of public WiFi and the rethinking of schooling and evaluation.The party is setting its sights on the European Parliament vote in May next year, and being clear where we stand on the EU:
“We support a referendum on whether the UK will be part of a new more open, democratic and accountable EU. Our position is about getting something that will benefit everyone on the continent, not just narrow nationalism, or shuffling a ragbag of powers. “
Loz rejected the idea of “detaching the country from the continent and dumping it in the mid Atlantic … After all, it is ridiculous to talk about surrendering sovereignty to Brussels when we give it to Washington without debate.”
Looking back over the past year in digital rights Snowden's revelations about the shocking true extent of mass surveillance dominated. Loz said:
“Are we citizens or are we suspects? We have always said that the attempts to crack down on file sharers are dangerous not just because it is a move to choke off our shared culture. It is dangerous because it legitimises snooping on us all.”He called for a properly open investigation in to PRISM and TEMPORA, that GCHQ should not be outsourcing for America's NSA, for improved data protection, meaningful protection for whistleblowers and asylum for Edward Snowden observing :
“If we don't speak out , who will?”He challenged the Pirate movement to think beyond the act of whistleblowing, but to be active in addressing the reasons on why people speak out:
“The collateral murder video was to expose dispassionate cold unthinking cruelty. Until we can face up to the mistakes of the past we can have zero credibility when we talk of intervening militarily in the name of human rights in the future. “He followed up on the announcement at conference that the National Executive elections woul dbe called early to allow a stable team to work through the May 2014 and 2015 elections by announcing he would be putting his name forward:
“This post of Leader belongs to us all not me...There is so much more I want to do, and for us to do together.”He finished off by looking at the biggest significant challenge and vision for the year ahead- turning around the crisis in British democracy. Manchester has seen the best results for the Pirate Party, but also worryingly low turnout, as low as 13% in the recent Ancoats and Clayton byelection:
“When democracy is stuffed everything is stuffed.. We are at the top of indicators for deprivation. That the people in the estates round where I live think politicians have nothing to offer them is not apathy, it is a reasonable and logical conclusion to draw.
I've talked to a lot of them over recent weeks and months. They are not apathetic. They are angry. They are angry that lives are being torn apart by the bedroom tax, they are angry that regeneration money has been squandered, they are angry that they are seen as worthless. Well I am angry too. The current system is so obviously, patently, utterly stuffed. ... The movement is changing as we see the bigger picture. We must turn the anger in to a burning will for positive solutions. We must turn the sense of powerlessness in to will to shape society around us. We must tell the voiceless it's time to speak up.”You can read the full text of the speech here.