Interview with… Pirate Party UK leader Andrew Robinson
Andrew Robinson is the leader of the Pirate Party UK. There are 34 Pirate Party’s around the world and 10 Pirate candidates are standing in the UK’s 2010 General Election. Their political priorities are reforming copyright and patent law, ending excessive surveillance and ensuring real freedom of speech.
In order to understand their ideology in its most basic form I began the interview by asking ‘what exactly is the Pirate Party UK?’ and where the whole Pirate movement evolved from?
One of the most high-profile Pirate Party policies is that non-commercial file sharing should be legalised. Robinson explains that authorities should be focusing energy on the counterfeit industry and claims that file-sharers actually help spread and promote artists to a wider audience.
Over 20,000 letters were sent to MP’s last week asking them not to vote in the Digital Economy Bill. But following a 2 hour debate (in which only 26 MP’s were present), the DE Bill was passed. So what does the now Digital Economy Act mean for the individual internet user?
Another key principle of the Pirate Party ideology is an end to ‘excess surveillance’ by the authorities. Although Robinson doesn’t identify what level of surveillance is ‘excessive’, he says we must set boundaries democratically and with a clear understanding their implications.
Some of the policies in the Pirate Party manifesto are extremely idealistic – abolishing drug patents, giving power to the public to force by-elections and revolutionising IT education in schools. However, as realistically no Pirate Party candidate going to be elected, it can be claimed they are just exploiting the public mood by simply saying what people want to hear.
Still though, the Pirate Party manifesto is rather narrow – there was no mention of health policies for example. Robinson claims this firstly honesty as they recognise they ‘don’t have all the answers’ but will look to ask and listen to what their constituents believe they should be doing.
Many people believe that a vote for a smaller party would be a waste. In response to this, Robinson states that votes for small parties do make a difference. He believes that the Pirates could get enough votes to affect who wins in some constituencies and this would send a strong message to the three main parties that Pirate policies are important to people.
And finally… a generation ago the Green Party were looked upon by many as quite a radical hippy movement. In next months election, the party leader Caroline Lucas is odds-on to win the Greens first ever seat in Parliament. this rise in ‘credibility’ has run parallel to the realisation in society that green issues are growing in importance. So with this in mind, do the Pirate Party believe their future will emulate the development of the Green Party?
I want to know your thoughts on the Pirate Party