Building a solid foundation for change
Our one and only MEP, Julia Reda, has written a report that is causing some considerable consternation in the EU Parliament, mostly because the pro-IPR lobbyists, who have fought long and hard to increase their monopoly privilege and the terms thereof, are being outflanked by a knowledgeable politician who is willing to stand up for the people who voted for her. In doing this, she is following in the footsteps of the excellent Christian Engström, who was fighting the failed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement back in 2010, when elected to office. Sadly, he lost his seat in the last European Parliamentary elections, but not before he had taken part in the mass dance on ACTA's grave two years later. Christian staked the ground out and laid the foundations with Amelia Andersdotter who also lost her seat last year, but Julia is building a structure in which to house a new set of ideas for moving internet freedom and copyright reform forwards.
How it works
Using proven strategies
Mission Impossible-style (I like that idea, it seems more fun than imagine someone just leaving the door unlocked one day or using "Pa55word" as the password) and leak them to Wikileaks, etc., and we find out that we were wrong about everything we suspected. The proposals being negotiated behind our backs are much, much worse. So we push back again and again and sometimes this provides the desired results, e.g. ACTA's demise. But it often doesn't because a) we're not really paying attention and b) we don't care enough to keep fighting. Our would-be corporate overlords actually count on campaign fatigue on our part to help them win. The trick to winning, then, is to rally support and keep the flame of resistance burning by trickling in the information and spreading it around till we have enough support to topple the treaty at the pre-ratification stage.
How we're doing
Pretty well, as it happens.
The tide in EU seems to be turning against #ISDS in major treaties. EuroParliament Employment committee votes to exclude ISDS from #TTIP.Trade agreements' death throes tend to take a while. There's a fair amount of "Ohhh, he got me. It's getting dark, Johnny. Tell Laura I love her," etc. before they finally take their last rattling breath and let their heads flop sideways, their eyes half open. ACTA was a case in point, the way Christofer Fjellner carried on was downright hilarious — he comes across in his blog post on the subject like a captain valiantly going down with his ship, one hand on the helm, saluting as the water pours into the bridge. Meanwhile, EU Commissioner Karel de Gucht was afroth with indignation, saying pretty much, "By Grabthar's hammer, by the suns of Worvan, you shall be avenged." His actual statement sounds just as ridiculous if you read it out loud. Watch out for more plutocratic lapdoggy histrionics when TTIP kicks the bucket — the EU Commission, in its infinite wisdom, is deploying the same failed tactics it used to promote ACTA to try to persuade us that we have nothing to fear from a
— Lennart Huizing (@lennarthuizing) April 1, 2015
The most stupid thing about partisanship is the conformity shaming that goes with it. The idea that you're either on side or an enemy creates a polarising effect that might win hardcore supporters over and convince them that you're on their side. However, it also alienates people who might agree with some of the things you stand for, just not all of them. I'm an opinionated moderate conservative but since I'm a Pirate I'm not shackled to any particular ideology. This frees me up to consider and accept policies that actually make sense, whoever came up with them. That's why I'm friendly with people who subscribe to ideologies I'm generally opposed to; sometimes they're right.
Working together makes things better
Without our allies in other parties we would never have defeated ACTA in 2012, nor would we have gotten the Reda Report on the political map. We need these people whether we agree with them on everything or not because we agree on enough issues to get things done. Pirates in office don't just go looking for personal advancement, they serve the people who voted for them. However, since they tend to be few in number they need public support. This means taking part in campaigns where you're asked to contact your representatives in order to persuade them to make changes to their policies, e.g. accepting the Reda Report instead of working to undermine it because the lobbyists said so. We work together with individuals and public interest groups as much as with other politicians because it gets stuff done. And people are starting to notice.
The Pirate Party UK has announced its list of candidates for this year's election. Be sure to check it out. I'll be blogging about the candidates and doing what I can to raise awareness of them and their campaigns as the election draws nearer. We need Pirates in office NOW. Look, you've seen the difference they've already made when there's only one in the EU Parliament. Imagine having one or two in the UK Parliament. Imagine how we'd have due process and the rule of law restored. Imagine having the social contract reinforced. Imagine an end to austerity and the implementation of policies that put people, not corporations, first.
Don't swallow the FUD
Or you can vote for one of the usual suspects from the party you dislike the least because you're afraid that the party you dislike the most might get in. That wobbling gave us a coalition last time but proved that third parties can get a seat at the table. Let's see what can happen if we are a little braver this time and more of us vote for the smaller parties, particularly Pirates and Greens. But if there's a Pirate where you are, vote for him or her. If we get one in, we can expect great things to happen. Watch this space.