Could The Pirate Party's manifesto have a bearing on the mainstream party plans?

Opinion by Dan Raywood

In a week that saw further debate about a general election and what is likely to be the last budget ahead of the said event, this week saw the introduction of a manifesto from The Pirate Party.

In a week that saw further debate about a general election and what is likely to be the last budget ahead of the said event, this week saw the introduction of a manifesto from The Pirate Party.

Beating several mainstream parties by several weeks, The Pirate Party introduced its eight-page manifesto with a claim that it is different from other parties as the document ‘covers three main areas: copyright and patent law; privacy law; and freedom of speech'.

Its leader is Andrew Robinson, the candidate for Worcester. He said: “We aim to represent a generation that feels excluded from politics. We are a party united by a desire to give the public new rights, and make long overdue improvements to outdated laws.

“We offer a choice that is free from corruption, lobbying influences and internal power struggles, in sharp contrast to other parties.”

He also declared that The Pirate Party is ‘a lot more than just a file sharing pressure group' and said that the party was ‘not afraid to tackle important issues the other parties ignore'.

The three main areas do show a left facing perspective, particularly with it ‘believing the right to photograph events and buildings in public is important to prevent our society becoming a police state', and that it will ‘encourage libraries and museums to digitise their content, and make it available online wherever' in the Freedom of Speech section.

Indirectly referencing plans announced by the Prime Minister this week to introduce ‘super fast broadband', it claimed it ‘will solve the problem of false and misleading advertising of internet speeds by giving customers a new right to pay only for the fraction of the claimed broadband speed that the provider actually delivers, so if you sign up for an 8Mb/s connection and only receive 2Mb/s, you would only have to pay a quarter of the agreed price'.

Naturally, it also states that it believes that the internet is instrumental to freedom of speech and pledges ‘to legislate in favour of net neutrality' and will not allow government censorship of the internet for anything but the most extreme reasons.

So on to privacy, it stated that it will give the public a new right to encrypt their private data, strongly opposes compulsory ID cards (and pledges that we will never introduce them) and will introduce a new right to compensation for people affected by government data loss.

Specifically looking at data loss and information security, one paragraph states that it will ‘introduce stronger data protection laws, requiring companies that hold personal information to give consumers more information about their rights, to apply a reasonable level of security to data, and to be clear about their policies on data retention and amendment'.

There are plans to introduce a new right to apply to a court for compensation where data protection laws have been broken, and it states that it will increase the penalties for any breaches of data protection laws. It will also allow the courts to apply these penalties to both the individuals and companies responsible.

Now I feel I should point out that SC is not affiliated to any political party, and as the weeks go by towards 6th May we will be looking at manifestos and the plans being made for developments in our sector. However it was very interesting to read a manifesto of a party specifically focussed on privacy and reform to copyright laws.

If history has shown us anything it is that smaller parties do not tend to get votes unless national news coverage is given – see Martin Bell or George Galloway for evidence – and niche parties with a single message are often overlooked. However it is safe to say that The Pirate Party does raise some interesting points, but what may be most poignant is the timing of the release of the manifesto.

With the main parties yet to deliver firm offers on its plans, it may be a case that The Pirate Party has an impact on challenging manifestos, and that could be its case. The worst thing that it has is a detrimental name, and the association with The Pirate Bay, which may not do it many favours in political circles.


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