Firstly, I’ll point out that the following is not an official plan for the party or endorsed by the National Council, but is rather my views and thoughts on a plan for the near future. It is not written in a vacuum however and is does draw from discussions with others, but it is my interpretation of what myself and some others are aiming for.
Now that the issues with PPI, reforming PPI and our membership with PPI are largely put to rest, I feel we have a bit more breathing space to look again domestically and locally as a party and reapply our efforts to our own growth, stability and direction. The PPI issues were a distraction from this, but it was however a necessary distraction for the health of the wider Pirate movement, and necessary also for our own protection and clarity. This is not to now ignore international issues, but rather means we can get on with the business of collaborating with other parties internationally without any bureaucratic barriers. The stuff happening with PirateInt is already quite promising.
But that’s enough internationally, so what are we going to do domestically and locally?
Now, ideally it will be growth with an aim to state registration of parties. However, there are some important things that need to happen first.
Firstly, we have been flagged by the AEC for an audit of our 500 members for continued registration purposes. This AEC audit is a fairly routine thing, not an ‘omg we are being scrutinised for reasons’. This should not be a drama and we have until May to do so, but it is a pain in the butt to have to bother with it. This also makes work on finalising our membership database system and interface etc suddenly more urgent. While much work has been done on it, it’s my understanding there is a little more to do. Generally however we will likely be emailing members, requesting them to verify that they are indeed members and their details are correct, so that information can then be forwarded to the AEC. We have well in the vicinity of over 1000 members, so I don’t anticipate any real problems, it’s just some extra admin, programming and communication work for the party to have to worry about in the short term, however most of this work needed to be done anyway, so perhaps this is a useful motivator.
Without the AEC audit, the immediate plan was to be to audit our membership internally anyway (as well as start getting our membership renewal payments system up and running) to put us in a position to then start recruiting for eventual state party registrations.
So, key is internal membership database programming, admin and audit, which now has a deadline in some aspects of May so we can send details to the AEC to ensure we remain registered federally.
Beyond that, our eventual goal of state party registration also has some work that needs to be done. Each state party essentially needs to have its own structure, ie it’s own constitution, council, etc etc. Which also means to a certain extent this needs to be driven by members in their respective states. However, people such as Brendan and Mozart have already done a lot of work in creating ‘template’ constitutions and there had been a number of state based ‘Branch formation committees’ in the process of starting up, so we will need to revive those to facilitate state registrations. Additionally quite a bit of work was done on writing a number of ‘standards’ and ‘processes/procedures’ for how we do things within the party (ie administrative issues like adding signatories to bank accounts etc)… which new start parties will then be able to draw upon as advice and ‘how to dos’ for when they need to do similar things at a state level, thus meaning there is no need to reinvent the wheel or make the same mistakes all over again.
The other thing to consider, is that we need to undergo a state level policy development process. Pretty much all our policies are Federal level. There is no point going into a state election with no state level policies. The Policy Development Committee is still doing a lot of work on a number of Federal level policies, but in time we’ll see some forays into state level policies I’m sure.
We were never going to manage to register for the current series of state elections (eg recent Vic & Qld, & upcoming NSW). In NSW for instance to be registered for this upcoming election we would have had to have undergone the process 12 months ago (that is the cut off period to register for a state election) and for NSW registration we not only need 750 members who are registered to vote in NSW, but we need physically signed paper forms/stat dec’s to submit in paper form for each of those members (plus, I think, a $2000 fee)… so as you can see state level registration is somewhat more onerous than federal.
We can however register for the Local elections (100 members rather than 750). Now local elections are even further from our policy base of federal issues, and additionally a lot of local council election issues are localised issues that the National levels of the party have no huge business dabbling in. However, people who wish to run at a local level can very likely apply pirate principles (eg http://falkvinge.net/pirate-wheel/) to local issues and use that to inform their stances on matters. IN addition there is scope to come up with a bunch of generalised policy standpoints that can be applied at a local level in many instances such as transparency and/or anti-corruption issues and so on. These also could assist in formulating local responses for local candidates.
A key issue when it comes to elections is having a local support network on the ground. Election day is possibly the single best promotional opportunity the party has to reach people. Social media is often a bit of an echo chamber, but anyone who handed out how to vote cards at the federal election will likely attest to a lot of favourable reactions from people who otherwise hadn’t heard of us, or had up until that point largely disregarded us.
And key to this as well, is when you look at the voting patterns in the Federal election (or the Griffith by-election where Mel came in 4th place, in front of parties that were way more well-known and better resourced) is that any polling place that had a Pirate Party volunteer handing out how to vote cards often had a significantly higher number of votes for us than places that didn’t. But for this to be successful then you need a lot of boots on the ground on election day. Which means a localised network of like-minded pirate party members or supporters. This is not necessarily easy to build for a party that is far more federally oriented than other parties and that collaborates almost exclusively online.
However, upcoming local elections in NSW, for example, in 2016 will be a great opportunity to get that extra publicity and reach and hopefully, by factoring into local issues, start to build that localised base in certain areas which will then help when it is time to run in state and federal elections again. . (in addition, depending on local conditions, I do see scope as part of the recruitment drive, to having things like stalls in public places with shirts, badges, stickers, flyers etc and stuff like membership forms etc and hitting things like university open days. It may look a bit like we are trying to copy socialist groups by doing this, but depending on how it is done it could be a quite useful exercise, especially in getting signatures on paper for stat registration purposes.)
So if I were to factor everything so far into a type of ‘to do list’, or ‘priority list’ we’d be looking at:
• sort out membership database
• ensure AEC audit is sorted
• full audit of membership
• renewal payments system
• register for local elections
• work on policy boilerplates for local elections
• run in local elections
• recruit with aim to state registrations
• keep working on federal policies and branch out into state policies
• state constitutions
• state branches (regardless of actually registering the branches can be created, and then work towards registration)
• register at state level
• run at state level
Many of the above points will run concurrently, ie policy dev will always occur and state branches could in theory be created tomorrow if there were enough people to say “let’s do it”, so don’t put too much stock in the order, even if there is a rough relevance to it.
Now, in addition to the above there will obviously be other concurrent activities, such as submissions to inquiries, campaigns against data retention and draconian copyright rules and enforcement schemes, and so on.
Campaigning around such matters are not only important means in which to get ourselves exposure and be seen etc, but also assists us to hone our own viewpoints & arguments and also practice putting our views and policies into real world issues and have then undergo trial by fire of sorts (this also applies on a personal level as well and potential future candidates argue for our views in the media or with others). Not to mention the fact that a lot of these things are worth fighting against, especially with our current government seemingly trying to take the derpiest route whenever possible.
An aspect of this campaigning, say for instance with data retention, is to move away from our reliance on just getting press releases done, but also look to more proactive options. For example see this discussion here: Proactive responses to data retention
There are also a number of articles in the wings being written, refined or approved which we will start putting out there in addition to press releases and other activities.
Now, again there is so much more in addition to all this which also needs to run concurrently.
For example, the constitutional review needs to get off the ground with an aim to present possible changes to the next congress. See here Pirate Party's Constitutional Review
We are only a few months away from the next congress, so work on organising that is needing to happen now.
Policy development work is occurring and progressing, with work being done on “cryptocurrencies/ distributed digital currencies”, health policy, domestic violence, cultural policy and more.
In regard to merchandise, we usually do small print runs around particular crowdsourced fundraising campaigns (eg translating the Dutch court ruling Pozible campaign), there is a plan to hope to set up a more formal merchandise arrangement and sell t-shirts, stickers, badges etc as a fundraising measure. One can also hope to get a lot more things like meme’s, resources, videos etc being made and shared.
As a volunteer only party it can be very difficult for us to all find the time to do the things we need and want to do, so please, any members out there who want to get involved further and help out, then your help will be much appreciated. see here for example: Call for volunteers
This volunteer nature does mean we often have other family or work priorities that need to come before the party, but one possible idea for the future is to create a paid position wherein the person would do a lot of the party work and support others in that task.
There’s many more issues and ideas I haven’t greatly touched upon and im sure there are many better ideas and suggestions for direction and so forth out there. We plan on discussing a bunch of stuff along these lines at the next National Council meetings so hopefully we can formalise a good plan.
Again, let me reiterate, the above is not an official party ‘plan’ but largely me putting into words my own musings and thoughts on the matter. I’m sure that as we all discuss and plan further the above will be greatly improved. So yeah, this is not a formal strategic plan. But it is at least a starting point of sorts and hopefully will engender some further discussion.
Apologies for length, but actually getting this all down in writing in long form is useful for me personally as well, but I’m not going to bother shortening or editing it down at this stage. A more formal plan would certainly more succinct and refined.
Lots of stuff. Need get member DB sorted for audit. Then can expand/recruit. Working on state registration/state branches.Register for local govt elections and run in some. Use this as possible base to build locally and work on local support structures etc. This will then hopefully help springboard us to build towards more support for future state and federal elections. Also lots of other stuff happening now.