Why I could never vote for the Pirates

I’ve a lot of respect for anyone who steps up to run for election with a manifesto that, they genuinely hope, will improve the lot of their constituents. But aside from my obvious partisan reasons, I don’t think I could ever vote for a Pirate Party candidate in these forthcoming national and local elections.

I suspect I’m like the majority of people in that I really get put off by politicians saying “don’t vote for Party X or you’ll let Party Y in”, as though they’ve nothing more compelling to offer voters than “we’re not that lot”. Ultimately I would always want people to vote for the party they most support, give or take some tactical voting if they prefer. So if the Pirates are your bag then get involved with them.

But the Pirates are an unashamed single issue party. Their manifesto lays out a radical agenda for copyright, patents and online privacy. That’s an interesting proposition for an MEP who can take that militant approach in a very large Parliament. But MPs and councillors are constituency politicians, they need to represent and support people on every issue on the books with an open statement of their approach. If I were to vote for a Pirate, I’d want to know that they are concerned about the need for affordable homes, better partnership working to improve my town centre and urgent action on climate change. Even if I weren’t a committed Green, I’d want a local Pirate candidate to set her/his personal stall on those issues before they got my vote.

We Greens also have some good policy on these subjects, tying them into our wider approach to the economy, culture and government. When their grassroots and youth wing mobilise, the Lib Dems sometimes take these issues up, the Conservatives sometimes talk the talk and the split personality Labour government have made some good recent moves. I’d much rather vote for a candidate from a rounded party who also took the Pirates’ concerns seriously in these elections.


  1. blanco said:

    “I’d much rather vote for a candidate from a rounded party who also took the Pirates’ concerns seriously in these elections.”

    Fair point, although many often say they’d rather vote for a candidate from a rounded party who also took the Greens’ concerns seriously, rather than for the Greens themselves. The Lib Dems, whatever one might say about their mixed record in local government, have many of the same end-result principles and goals on green issues as Greens do – ignoring the philosophical liberal vs ecologist basis that goes over the voters’ heads, what it says on the tin is that Greens and Liberals are committed to fighting climate change, decarbonising the economy, and against nuclear power.

    I think new parties create support by focusing on a few issues, and then growing outwards – much as the Greens did.

    24th March 2010
    • Tom Chance said:

      That’s an interesting comparison, because the Green Party has always struggled to communicate its broad slate of policies when most people begin with the assumption that it’s a single issue environmental party.

      In fact when it was founded as the People Party, during its days as the Ecology Party and through to its rebirth as The Green Party, it has always aimed for four basic principles of Green political philosophy: social justice; environmental; justice; peace; and democracy. So it never ‘grew out’ in its philosophy, rather in its public perception as we got politicians elected and showed people what we’re about.

      The difference of course is that the Pirate Party UK doesn’t seem to have any ambitions to grow outwards. It would be really interesting if they did!

      25th March 2010
  2. Rob Myers said:

    ‘Cause ye be a scurvy landlubber? Haharr!

    [Looks around suspiciously, hiding foppish powdered wig behind back.]

    24th March 2010
  3. Graeme Lambert said:

    Hi all,

    We’re not a single issue party, we have 3 core policies and we have set out realistic changes we would like to make in our manifesto at http://ppuk.it/manifesto2010

    We haven’t covered every single issue that the country has. Why not? Because we wouldn’t be able to get it all done. With the Digital Economy Act coming into play soon, we see these issues as important issues for the next term in parliament. If we have any candidates elected, we will thrive to have these issues resolved. When they are resolved we will set out a limited amount of other issues we wish to take on, such as replacing FPTP with proportional representation. The main parties set out hundreds of issues they want to tackle and then fail to do the majority. If elected into parliament, we WILL tackle our small number of issues and move onto more. Sensible?

    23rd April 2010
    • Tom Chance said:

      That’s a very sensible approach if you managed to get one or two MPs elected. Any voters interested in your manifesto would be clear that the most you could hope for is to get your topics more media coverage and provide some “pester power” inside the Commons, so you might as well direct that at a small list of problems.

      But it completely misses the point of my article, which is that MPs in this country have two roles: Parliamentarian (your manifesto’s aim) and constituency MP. It’s the latter that I worry about, because I would be astonished if your constituency case work included more than a handful of Pirate Party issues.

      What are the hot topics in Bury? Where do you stand on (after a quick search) children’s services at Fairfield?

      The same applies to running for council.

      23rd April 2010

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