Last week 129 people put their X next to the Pirate Party logo (and my name) on the ballot paper in Lambeth's local elections. That's 129 people that wouldn't have otherwise had the opportunity to Vote Pirate.
More than that 129 though, are the thousands of people in the area who now know about the party, even if only a little. Thousands of people who are more aware of some of the things that we are passionate about and are campaigning for. People more aware of the need for transparent and open government at all levels, with open access to government data. More aware of the democratic deficit where turnout is low and there is no effective opposition. More aware of the need for digital rights and individual privacy requirements.
In order to change minds, and so change society, we need to spread the Pirate message, and one of the best ways of doing that is through the democratic process. That's why we need many more people to stand as candidates at all levels of government.
By standing, not only do we give people the opportunity to vote for us - to say 'Yes, I believe in what you are saying, I believe that it is important and I agree with you' - but almost more importantly it gives us the opportunity to talk to them about the things that we think matter. To give us the microphone of publicity to speak to people.
Being a candidate was exciting, exhilarating, interesting and challenging all at the same time. The one unexpected thing that I found was the positivity of people's response when I said that I was standing, who I was standing for, and what we were about as a party. From Conservative to TUSC, through Labour and Lib Dem - I had candidates for other parties saying 'Thank you for standing - you are talking about interesting and important things which aren't being mentioned by anyone else'. Friends in the area said 'Well done for standing - I couldn't do it, that sounds really interesting - anything that I can do to help?'
What I found by standing was that people are receptive to a new politics and willing to talk about it - I found very little negativity from people and much more curiosity. As a candidate, not too much was required of me other than a willingness to talk about the party and what we believe in to those people that ask. Even the hustings event which I thought would be daunting was much the same - 'what do you think about…' type questions rather than any directed criticism. Yes, it took up some of my time - in planning, in delivering leaflets (with a great deal of help), in attending a hustings event, but it wasn't excessive and was easy enough to plan around.
If you were to stand as a candidate in your area, then thousands of people local to you can hear about Pirate Policies and why we think that they matter. It's a message that we think is important. It's time to get that message out.