I was alarmed to receive an e-mail last week confirming how close the party came recently to going out of existence in the UK and the contents of this memo were enough to shake me out of my inertia. I think that in many ways the Pirate Party is an idea whose time has come and so it would be particularly ironic if the Pirates were to disappear just as a degree of extreme fluidity was being injected into the British political scene. The UK political scene is dominated by parties who insist on either defining themselves on left-right-centre terms or else defining themselves by way of particular interests, intersectionality in the case of the Womens Equality Party, environmentalism in the case of the Greens, nationalism in the case of the SNP and Plaid Cymru. The two parties less obviously on the left/right scale have both missed the chance to present something different to the electorate. The Lib Dems by taking the decision to place themselves firmly in the 'centre' following Jeremy Corbyn's victory rather than explore their more interesting liberal and social libertarian ideas and UKIP by purely playing to the 'lowest common denominator' and adopting populist policies designed to play on peoples fears and prejudices purely for the purpose of garnering votes. For those in the, I would say, modern electorate, then, what are the options for those looking for a progressive, participatory form of politics looking to engage in consensus politics that is radical but refuses to conform to or create its own ideology. I think everyone reading this forum knows that the Pirate Party occupies this space.
Over the years I have become disillusioned with mainstream party politics. Like our former leader Loz Kaye I started my political journey in Labour and left the party at about the same time he did. Unlike him I then joined the Greens and spent 15 years in the party becoming a local councillor and running for parliament twice. Most recently I have until 2014 been a member and then Deputy Leader of RESPECT before leaving mainly due to the total deficit of democracy within that organisation, as well as some pretty major policy differences. I wouldn't have had a problem if those policies had come up from the grassroots membership but they didn't, they were largely dictated down by the 'triumvirate of influence' that runs that party, 2 out of the 3 being unelected. The job of a party's leadership is, in my opinion, to communicate and explain the policies decided by the membership and, of course, to lead. It is not to instigate and drive personal policy agendas, or at least no more so than any other member of the party has the right to do so. So to cut a long story short I left and since then have been watching politics more as an observer as I undertake a Politics and International Development degree with the Open University, whilst also working full-time.
Like everyone else in the world (seemingly) I do of course have no free time. However I am prepared to create some space in my diary and to set about attempting to revive, or indeed to create, some interest in the Pirates and to take them to a level commensurate with the undoubted interest levels in wider society of what the party has to offer. With that in mind I am prepared to offer myself forward for the vacant post of party leader and to seek out a seconder for the role from this forum. As I've said earlier in a democratic party like the Pirates I see the role of Leader as being more of a facilitator and communicator with policy very much driven by the membership. I bring a fair degree of communication skills to the table having previously been a professional actor, journalist and broadcaster (all of this work carried out under my Equity name of Dave Edler). Having previously been in a leadership position of a small political party (and for 6 months as Acting Leader) I know both the constraints and the opportunities that this presents if the democratic and operating frameworks are right. As my area of specialism was election strategy and organisation, something I helped with in the Greens, I can also put in place strategies that will begin to form the basic frameworks necessary for electoral success in the longer term future.
I obviously have a lot more to say but this is my opening gambit, so to speak. If anyone would like a more personal discussion then please indicate and I will facilitate this on whatever platform you would prefer. Pirates are generally good at boarding and making the most of sinking ships and so maybe this is the most opportune time to be wearing the Captain's hat.