Morus at Political Betting has written an article suggesting that the Pirate Party could harm the electoral prospects of the Lib Dems, particularly in university constituencies:
The UK party’s leader, Andrew Robinson, told me that they would seek to run at the General Election, and would stand as many candidates as they could afford to support properly and will target primarily university constituencies because students are demographically more likely to file-share and to spend time and money online.
Robinson recognises that they won’t get anyone elected at the first attempt, but they want to steer the conversation towards their issue.
I don’t know if the UK Pirate Party will meet their aim of retaining a deposit at the General Election – I suspect they might.
Comment Yellow Submarine adds:
Great Piece. I recall that UKIP once planned to at least campaign under if not actually change their name to, the Independence party. Freedom is definately under represented in the British political offer and i think there is a small gap in the market. The problem of course is (a) we still have so much FPTP (b) the thresholds are quite high under the list system PR we have so
(a) Lib Dems. Won’t be happy having an anti establishment party targeting university seats. they need to move on policy pronto. Ditto Greens writ smaller.
(b) UKIP. Does it have or even want any identity over and above Europe
(c) Conservatives. Its a change election and they’ll want these sort of younger, aspirational voters in there column but how many would have ever turned out for the Tories anyway?
What ever happens i imagine all the big boys will be updating their Freshers Fair materials over the weekend.
I did an internal poll of PPUK supporters a couple of months back, asking who they’d voted for in the European election — most said the Greens, Lib Dems, or UKIP. Incidently no-one said the Tories or Labour; even though it was a small sample, I think that’s an indicative result. It seems to me quite likely that we’ll take more voters from the Lib Dems than from the Tories or Labour; it’s entirely possible this could result in the Lib Dems losing seats, or not gaining seats that they otherwise would.
Would this be a good result for PPUK? In one sense it would, since the more people vote for use, the more attention we’ll get, and we can use that attention to get a bigger level of support in subsequent elections, such as in deviolved parliaments (2011, 2012) and the European elections (2014). Note that these elections are all held using PR so we’re much more likely to win seats.
But in another way, perhaps it wouldn’t be a good result for us. The best result, from our point of view, would be electing a parliamentary majority of PPUK MPs. That isn’t going to happen. The next best result would be a parliament that enacts proportional representation, because PR would make it vastly easier for us to win seats at Westminster. And the sort of parliament that would do that is one where no party has an overall majority, but the Lib Dems hold the balance of power. Therefore if PPUK causes a seat to be won by the Tories, when the Lib Dems might have otherwise won, this might not be in our interests.
Liberal Democrat Voice thinks PPUK’s “very existence may help shift the terms of political debate on some issues”, but they’re also concerned PPUK might suck up votes that would otherwide go to them.
Martin Kinsella is clearly running scared:
Fact is the Pirate Party will appeal to some of our core vote, namely the student vote, so we have to act. I see this blog as being the first shot in an attempt to rubbish them. We need to step up the pressure on them and blow them out of the water by whatever means necessary. Several seats could be lost or not gained in student areas due to them so we need to blow them out of the water.
Later he adds:
Sorry, but this is serious politics now and you will be portrayed as a single issue party and rightly so. Your position in the political spectrum means you are natural allies of the Lib Dems so why not join us instead of forming a party of your own. You stand for alot of what we believe in. If you don’t then make no bones about it your party will be crushed and we will be, in part, doing the crushing. Sorry but that is real life and politics. Think about it. You need to disband and join the Lib Dems.
Martin, I hate to tell you this, but your threats are about a scary as my cat’s were when he was a little kitten and he put his paws up into the air to attack me. It’s obvious that the Lib Dems won’t be depriving PPUK of seats at the general election since we don’t expect to get any anyway, and equally obvious that PPUK might harm the Lib Dems, as you yourself acknowledge above.
When I look at the comments in the Lib Dem Voice article, it’s clear that many Lib Dems do agree with us on many of the policies we care about. It’s also the case that it’s unlikely the Pirate Party will on its own win an overall majority at Westminster, in the devolved assemblies, or in the European Parliament, so we’re going to have to co-operate with other parties to get what we want.
These two facts suggest to me that it would make sense for PPUK and the Liberal Democrats to talk to each other to see if there are mutual advantages in working together.