(I originally wrote this article in about May of this year, when the news stories mentioned were current.)
2012 is the year I joined my first political party. After a bit of back-and-forth with my elected Member of Parliament (Conservative Mary Macleod) in which we discussed the CCDP, the High Court ruling against The Pirate Bay and Claire Perry’s dangerous crusade to censor the web, I wrote this to her:
The Internet is being legislated by people who do not understand it. I have not seen a single elected figure take any of the issues of digital civil liberties seriously, and as a result I am incredibly disheartened with the state of UK politics. As a twenty-one year old I find that quite sad and I hope you do too.
I remember being on holiday in April two years ago, in a game camp in the middle of South Africa, using a phone and a local SIM card to read about the Digital Economy Bill vote on Twitter. I can still remember feeling entirely powerless, and the same’s happening now with the three topics I mentioned to my MP – different Government elected, same mistakes being made.
I wrote her that message two days before the local elections on the 4th of May and was hoping for a little more of a reply than I actually ended up receiving; her assistant simply noted that my concerns would be forwarded to Ed Vaizey, who holds the title of “Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries”. While waiting for London Elects to announce the results of the election for Mayor of London I (re)stumbled across the Pirate Party’s site (led there, I think, by their Pirate Bay mirror). For whatever reason I had never before realised that their thinking was so aligned with mine.
I wish they weren’t called the Pirate Party. It’s not going to do them a single damn favour as awareness of them becomes more widespread. But having just one more MP who can talk sense about all things digital in the House of Commons (alongside Tom Watson) would be hugely beneficial for the UK.
Politics has made me feel nothing but frustration and disappointment for the last couple of years. I’ve finally realised that (much like every aspect of life) it’ll be far more productive to stop thinking negatively and put that energy into contributing to a political party that has sensible policies relating to issues I feel are the most important. Call me naïve, but I hope that the next general election will see the vote spread far more evenly across large and small parties, and the Pirate Party should be a piece of that.
That paragraph contains a phrase it feels like it’s taken me too long to realise. Sensible policies about issues I think are important. Bad legislation will continue to magically appear unless people who understand the issues involved make sure they’re vocal about the politicians who are doing it right.
I’ve mentioned to a few friends recently that I’m constantly surprised by how few young people are interested in the technical side of creating things for the web; a tiny minority of the population want to learn what HTML is, let alone anything more involved than that. Given how widespread the web is today and that it’s only going to grow, I’d expect far more enthusiasm for web development. That same idea applies equally to digital legislation, but perhaps attitudes will change as those who have grown up with access to a computer start being elected.
If you’re interested in The Pirate Party, have a flick through their 2012 manifesto which has recently been approved by members.
Written on Thursday 01 November, 2012