Thursday, 27 February 2014

PPUK Reform


The Pirate Party UK (PPUK) is a political party in the UK, who typically fight for civil liberties, copyright reform and a more transparant government. Full disclosure, I'm a full, membership-paying member of PPUK.

This is not a reform proposal in the traditional sense. This is a look at how PPUK acts and is perceived, and if that can be altered to be more of a positive. Think of it as a perspective reform.

Where we're at

Historically, we've taken on campaigns at both the local and national level. We should keep on doing this, as both levels are required to effect our goals.

However, our campaigns have almost always been in opposition to something, for example, we opposed the withdrawal of Legal Aid, we opposed the detention of Chelsea Manning, the "snooper's charter", and so on.

When it comes down to it, we expend a disproportionate amount of energy saying "no" to our opponents. We often celebrate in the defeat of our opponents. This gives the impression to the public (well, those that know about us, that's a whole other blog post) that we are adversarial, and against progress.

We need to acknowledge that the stated goals of these schemes may have merit, bring substantial benefit to the public (ex., and even that they may align with our goals -- but that the proposed implementation has issues; we need to offer alternatives which still support the goal.

Further to this, we don't provide anything to the public -- no tools for activists, we currently have little in the way of getting up and running in a local area, how-tos for running a campaign, nothing.

The Future?

I feel that, once we're a larger organisation, it would be most helpful for us to conduct ourselves in a way that is consistent with the goals and principles laid out in our manifesto. Beyond that I feel that we should be aiming to improve our society.

I think that this means, instead of simply opposing problems, (e.g. pharmaceutical greed, violation of civil liberties, invasion of privacy, etc.) we must support alternative solutions.

The simplest one from that list is the invasion of our privacy -- we can support projects that improve people's privacy online (e.g. HTTPS Everywhere, TOR, GnuPG). We can provide infrastructure, many of our volunteers have skills they could offer (programming, design, UX, etc.), providing them with more public support and exposure, building our own complementary tools, educating people in their proper usage, and so on.

Personally, I feel that one of our most lacking areas is public education. We have so much knowledge, yet we consistently fail to share it.

At our most recent branch meeting, I was asking about how many members we have, and the numbers I got back varied from 300 to 700. I also happen to know that the number who voted in our most recent NEC elections was a mere 57 people for one of the posts. I am strongly of the belief that this is due to disaffection in our own ranks from to our perceived (and, in some cases actual) lack of action. We must do; the future is not opposed, the future is built.

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