Why I am leaving Pirate Party UK and joining the Scottish Green Party

Just over five years ago, I — alongside others — founded the UK’s Pirate Party. Today I have decided to leave the Pirates and join the Greens. Why have I come to this decision?

The referendum on Scottish independence has fundamentally changed the Scottish political climate. It was a record turnout with many people voting who have who have seldom or never voted before. This upsurge in participation continued after the election: SNP membership has increased from 25,000 to 75,000 and Green membership from 2,000 to 7,000. Many people who didn’t take an interest in politics because they thought there was no point have now changed their minds and decided that they can make a difference.

The Westminster parties have promised more powers for Scotland. I think that either these will happen, or, if they do not, a lot of Scots will feel betrayed and this will lay the ground for another referendum at which independence will win.

It is in this background that I have decided to join the Scottish Green Party and campaign either for Devo Max, or if the Westminster parties won’t give us it, for independence.

There has been talk of the pro-independence parties running on a joint Yes Scotland ticket at the 2015 general election. If this happens, it’s entirely possible that they will win the majority of Scottish seats. And if that happens, and there’s a hung parliament, with UKIP winning seats in southern England, the possibilities are endless…

I don’t know how all this will turn out, but I do know that the Labservatives’ cozy little duopoly is visibly crumbling before our eyes, with almost every day bringing new revelations of its failure. For example, the fact that none of Labour’s big beasts in Scotland want to run their Scottish “branch office” as former leader Johann Lamont called it.

I want to smash the current system and replace it with a true democracy where everyone has a voice (not just Labservative politicians who’ve never had a proper job) and where everyone has a decent life (not just the rich), and I have decided that the best way I can help to bring change about is as a member of the Scottish Green Party.

This is not to say that I no longer believe in the principles of the Party I helped to found and the Party where I succeeded in getting 15% of voters to go into a ballot box and put a mark against a Pirate candidate(*). I still believe in a free and open internet, and always will do.

So why the Greens? One strong factor is that they support Pirate principles — for example, supporting open source software — and have done so since before the Pirate Party existed. Another major factor for me is the Greens’ support for a citizens income and a land value tax.

*: Edinburgh Council election, May 2012, Morningside/Meadows ward, %age of voters who went into a ballot box and gave me a 1st to 4th preference.

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Edinburgh Pirate Meeting, Wednesday 7 August

There will be an Edinburgh Pirate Party meeting tomorrow, Wednesday 7th August from 7pm at the Links Hotel.

Denis Simonet of Pirate Party Switzerland is visiting Edinburgh and will be there.

All are welcome. Details here.

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My predictions for 2013

Last year I didn’t make any detailed predictions for the year (though I did for the decade). For 2013 I will.

(1) Bashar al-Assad will no longer be president of Syria by the end of the year

The best-case scenario (from his point of view) is to be in exile with a few million dollars and a guarantee he won’t be prosecuted. While he deserves to be prosecuted, this option would save a lot of suffering and shorten the war.

The worst case scenario would be for him to be lynched by an angry mob like Gaddafi was.

Somewhere in the middle would be for him to be holed up in an Alawite rump state along the coast, with his government no longer recognised as Syria’s government by the international community.

(2) More computing devices will be shipped with Linux than Windows

This is particularly due to the rise of Android.

(3) The Pirate Party will get elected to the lower house of a national parliament

Germany is the most likely country here. In general, public awareness and support of Pirates will increase worldwide.

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Edinburgh Pirate Party: Christmas Drinks

Tuesday, December 11th from 7pm onwards, in the Links Hotel, Bruntsfield. Details here.

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Facebook wants its users to snitch on their friends

Paul Bernal's Blog

A story about Facebook went around twitter last night that provoked quite a reaction in privacy advocates like me: Facebook, it seems, is experimenting with getting people to ‘snitch’ on any of their friends who don’t use their real names. Take a look at this:

Facebook has had a ‘real names’ policy for a while: this is what their ‘Help Center’ says on the subject:

People in my field have known about this for a long time – it’s been the cause of a few ‘high profile’ events such as when Salman Rushdie had his account suspended because they didn’t believe that he was who he said he was – but few people had taken it very seriously for anyone other than the famous. Everyone knows ‘fake’ names and ‘fake’ accounts – my sister’s dog has a Facebook account – so few believed that Facebook was going to bother enforcing…

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Is This You?

Tom Scott did a presentation on what privacy (or lack of it) will be like in 10 years time:

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Edinburgh Pirate Party meeting, Wed 5 September

Edinburgh Pirates will be having an informal meeting on 5 September starting at 7pm in the Regent Pub.

All Pirates are welcome, as is anyone interested in the Pirate Party or who just wants to talk with us.

Details are on the Edinburgh Pirates website.

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