I hope all of you have had a good break over the festive season. A new year's a good time to look back over the one just past and new challenges up ahead.
In 2013 more than ever, our kind of politics dominated the news- surveillance, technology, democracy, privacy, whistleblowing, freedom of speech and the social media were constantly in focus.
In many ways 2013 was the year of “we told you so”. For some time now we've been warning about the state's constant calls for invading people's privacy. But even I was shocked by the true extent of mass surveillance revealed by the brave decision of Edward Snowden to blow the whistle. More than anything it has revealed that as far as GCHQ are concerned anything we say or do is fair game. In our country suspicion is now our way of life.
Following an onslaught of screaming tabloid headlines I wrote to the PM outlining my concerns of a move to default on site blocking- that it would lead to both over- and underblocking. My worries were dismissed by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. Again with the siteblock chaos that ended the year, we have seen the damage that has been caused by the failure of our politicians to listen to people who actually know what they are talking about.
It's that, that we need to change in 2014. The point is that we can write as many emails as we like, sign as many petitions, but until the people in charge change there will be no real progress. That's after all why we are a political party.
In 2013 we showed again that we can beat mainstream parties and set the agenda. Now we really need to step that up in 2014 for the Euro elections, locals and by starting to prepare the way for the next general election. There's a lot of work to do, but let's face it, it badly needs doing. If not us, who else?
If anyone caught the mood in the country last year it was probably Russell Brand. He channelled the very real anger that is out there – I see it all the time talking to voters, and non-voters, in Manchester. But to change the old saying “if not voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal”.
The sure fire way to make sure nothing happens on surveillance, censorship, and a society where everyone really gets their fair share is not to take part in the democratic system and leave it up to the same dull elite.
It's time for us to be the force that expresses the real anger and the real desire there is for fundamental change there is in this country right now. We can do that and be that.
Britain's politics don't just need a trickle of new blood, we need a major transfusion.
Now that's a new year's resolution I can get behind.
All the best for 2014