Continuing the discussion from Formal proposal to rename the Pirate Party by 2018:
As one of the most active members of the Pirate Party since our formation, I have seen us grow from half a dozen people sitting in IRC and a crappy forum, to an organisation with about 1,500 members and some victories under our belts. Its been great, but over the last couple of years we have begun to stagnate.
This is primarily due to members putting in less time into the organisation. We used to have a functioning media committee, policy development committee, an active social media team and a campaigns committee. The only one remaining is the policy development committee. The National Council has had to fill in the gaps, but this reduces the overall output of the whole Party. We are working on getting more involvement with the State election committees etc and have had interest from previously uninvolved people. Even if everyone who expresses interest in the State Election Committees gets involved, we are still going to be in a weaker position than we were at the last election. On the up side our name has probably spread a bit further, but we aren’t growing as we need to be.
We are now facing a new situation where entry into parliament has become significantly more difficult with the Senate electoral reforms being rushed through parliament. Where we had a good shot at a seat in the Senate with 4% of the vote, we now need probably about 10% before preferences would get us over the line (You need 14.3% or so to get a quota). We got 0.6% in the states that we weren’t competing with Wikileaks Party at the 2013 election. Getting from 0.6 to 4% isn’t that difficult, but getting from 0.6% to 10% is a whole other league. This makes the aforementioned stagnation look pretty bleak.
What do we want to do about it?
Having all of this in mind, and with the creation of the Alliance for Progress, the progressive minor Parties alliance, I started to think seriously about absorbing smaller Parties and maybe merging with similar sized
Parties with similar goals. We need more activists and these are ways we can pick up more people wanting to do stuff. Everyone at the strategy meeting was quite wary of mergers, but a little more amenable to absorbing smaller Parties so it maybe we can fix things by trying to eat some smaller Parties to get more activists. It still won’t get us anywhere near the at least 10% of the vote we will need to get into Parliament.
Brendan suggested the name change to try to give us broader appeal and also the chance to get involved in political issues outside of information and civil liberty struggles.
If we stay on the narrow focus of what Pirate Parties traditionally stand for, we are limiting ourselves and will only ever have influence on other Parties and little or no chance of ever getting elected. We don’t need to be a Party to do this, it may even be easier as an NGO because elections are a lot of work. People not heavily involved probably don’t understand how much work it is. You eat, sleep and breathe the election for the entire campaign, it even seeps into your dreams and then collapse after needing weeks to completely recover. This is where the idea for a Pirate Bureau comes from.
This is where a reformed Libertarian Left (or whatever) Party would come in. We could start to campaign on broader issues that members care about, like climate change, basic income etc. I personally have a long history of campaigning for refugee rights and campaigning against bigotry, be it racism, sexism or homophobia and would like to do some more for the Party. (This isn’t dependent on a name change, just deciding that we should campaign away from our core areas). It also opens up the possibility of attracting broader layers of activists who can help grow the Party.
The changes to the Senate have really galvanised me to want to make what is now the Pirate Party a serious Party capable of taking on the majors. The name is not as important as the ambition. We shouldn’t be aiming to continue as a small Party, we need to evolve to grow and to survive. A seriously democratic, participatory and transparent Party is precisely what Australian politics needs. We are that Party. We just need to take the opportunity presented to us.