I recently wrote to Loz Kaye, the leader of the UK Pirate Party, to congratulate him and his party on their brother’s and sister’s victory in Berlin. I pointed out that in Europe they were at a cross roads. As they grow in maturity and power as a political party, something yet to occur in the UK, it will become harder to talk to and work with supporters in other political parties. There is a mature balancing act to be taken in advancing their ideas, most of which I agree with, and winning political power. In my mind, they have to find a route between supporting the growth of broad campaigning groups such as the ORG or building their own organisation. There is a tendency in both the Liberal Democrats and the British Trotskyist movement to consider each new party member a victory for the cause. Both parties often win these cadres at the cost of those they create, dispirited by defeat who give up on politics. Each person who gives up on politics and hope is a loss to democracy, and we are not winning.
The predecessor party to the Greens was founded in 1975. In 2010, they won their first MP’s seat. It took ’em 35 years. The Tolpuddle Martyrs were exiled in 1834, Kier Hardie, Labour’s first MP was elected in 1892, a 58 year interregnum. (Let’s face it, he and his supporters had a bigger struggle since there was no universal suffrage in the UK until 1928, or 1948 or 1972, depending on how you want to count these things!) If you don’t get it right, it’s going to be a long wait.
It’s a fantasy to believe that the Pirates will replace the Greens or Reds, and certainly not one at a time. I suggested that the Pirate Party needs to consider alliances and keep its eye on the prize which in the short term in the UK is about the repeal or reform of the Digital Economy Act. They should also keep their demand for the shortening of copyright and the permitting of personal use rights on the table. It’s a major blow to our friends in the Liberal Democrats, and all opponents of the Digital Economy Act that despite their victories in their Party, this will not be part of the “Great Freedom” bill. We should all be honest and recognise that the supporters of digital liberty are loosing.
We i.e. digital freedom campaigners need all the friend we can find, which is why I find his welcome to Harriet Harman in her new role as Shadow Spokesman on Culture, Media and Sport churlish. If we want to win the Labour Party, even some of it, or the Trade Unions to our cause, you need to do better than that, and if you don’t want them on your side, tell your supporters the truth, they’ll be waiting for another 50 years in the UK.