Hello once more fellow Pirates
The deadline for casting your vote draws ever closer as the polls close Thursday 2nd February a touch before midnight.
In the past, the campaigning with our internal elections has been a little thin, more than likely because Pirates are hesitant to turn cannon on one another – but let’s not take lessons from the established parties, that internal elections are a place to blow someone else’s flame out to make yours appear brighter.
Instead, I’m here to make a positive case for my Deputy Leadership and until a Leader rises from our ranks, your Acting Leader.
When you drag your cursor over to click that radio button and cast your vote for me, you’ll be getting a Pirate who puts the constituents’ decisions first. In 2016 the Vale council, with volunteers like me ran a community mapping exercise in the Community of St Athan, that formed a very basic, trial of crowd sourcing policy on a local level. We found that many of our preconceptions on what most people were concerned about were mostly secondary and instead providing a safe and new area of play for children took priority over road concerns or the types of crime we have.
This lead to us setting up a local charity to fund raise for the areas of play, with our first objective being to improve the single public park in the village. We’ve already raised over £5000 to this end, appeared in the press many times and it really energised the community spirit.
This is an example I hold up as a success when asked what have Pirates can achieve after holding a seat in local government – often through the connections you can make. However more personal to me, it’s an example of how we must change our position in light of new data. Crime is still a concern for me in my local ward, especially unreported crime but it’s not considered the priority of those I represent so we must keep our personal agenda in check.
I believe this is an approach all our candidates should take but without a party whip, we must be inventive in how we convince our members of what is the right approach. Knowing there is a condition for the Leader (and therefore Acting Leader) to stand as a candidate, I see this as an opportunity lead by example and I will gladly continue standing in elections, promoting our party and our principals. It is also the Leader’s place to support all other candidates and I think having gone through three elections, once as a candidate, once as an agent and once through the co-option process, I’m well suited for this.
For the future of the party I want us making real gains in local elections. Our lower and higher council candidates can boost our exposure and help form more branches, contribute to existing branches and help bolster our membership but more importantly we can give more and more examples of the real differences Pirates can make in government. While I would agree that local government can be different for us to apply policies to if we are taking the constituents view as the priority, there is still plenty of room for Pirate policies without working against the wishes of residents. For example simple administrative changes can have hugely beneficial effects:
Transparent council powers: https://pirateparty.org.uk/policy/local/transparent-council-powers
Online Consultations: https://pirateparty.org.uk/policy/local/online-consultations
Open Websites: https://pirateparty.org.uk/policy/local/open-websites
Protected Browsing on Library Computers: https://pirateparty.org.uk/policy/local/protected-browsing-library-compu...
Accessibility of FOI search: https://pirateparty.org.uk/policy/local/accessability-foi-search
Open Source Software in Councils: https://pirateparty.org.uk/policy/local/open-source-software-councils
More policies I would like to see us apply at a local level are:
Councillors Public PGP keys on the council website
Ward Maps on Council Websites
On a more national level, I’d like to see more of our membership appearing in the Press. Personally I’m often in the local papers and I’ve occasionally featured in national coverage or something where an independent blogger has taken interest.
But we are missing variety.
Thankfully our press team size has doubled and we have more “unofficial” quick support from the environment Discord has created. So far we’ve been focusing this energy to get more press releases out, more rapidly and with new people speaking, however we should also direct our attention into helping members speak about their local issues for them to contact their local press. More importantly we should be approaching independent bloggers and alternative news sources for interview or for the spokesperson to write a guest piece. For me this has worked quite well and it goes a long way towards us not becoming an echo chamber. It really gained me a lot of attention during the GE2015.
In terms of finances, once our IT migration is complete, we should be in a good place. I’d like to see Treasury take stock of the finances and see what we can do by way of leaflet dropping in our local areas. Just a few hours of dropping leaflets through doors, leaving the information on a campus or a community centre can really help. We’ve already had offers from members to do this in the past but regrettably we’ve not really had the funds to print off a few hundred leaflets simply due to our running costs being so high. I’m very grateful to our IT team for putting together a plan to that inevitably will allow us to function more as a political party again.
Finally we’re a party formed from the bottom up and quite simply, I don’t want to be left to my own devices when Leading the party. Leadership should be a two way street, where I best represent the views of the party as a whole. In the past we’ve struggled with a disconnected party, often “catching up” with what the leadership have done. I’m happy to say the communication inside the party has really blossomed and a far more organic means of campaigning, with everyone in mind has emerged.
Let’s build on this and make 2017 the best year to #BeThePirate
P.S. Don't forget, if you've already cast your vote, the system lets you re-cast.