2015 is going to be a year of change for the Pirate Party. Loz isn't standing for re-election and a number of long-term members are taking a step away from the party, if not the issues. These are people I've worked with for a long time, and I know just how hard they have worked and how much they have put in.
They deserve my thanks and the thanks of our members generally. Together they have done much to take the party from being one that was dismissed outright, to one that is criticised on its ideas and approach.
But now the party needs stong leadership and new ideas to keep it going and to achieve what it needs to needs to in terms of its core issues. For me, those core issues aren't as high a priority as they were in 2010. It's abundantly clear that between the threat to the Human Rights Act and the likely imposition of the Snoopers Charter, that neither the party, nor apolitical groups like ORG, Amnesty and even 38Degrees have managed to push these issues up the agenda and high on to the priority list for most people. Even the exposure of mass surveillance by Edward Snowden hasn't made that a political problem for parties like the Conservatives, who appear to continue to embrace mass surveillance.
That doesn't mean it's not doable, or that it shouldn't be done – over the last year the Pirate Party have managed to inject digital issues into elections, we have managed to raise awareness. But not enough.
Sadly for me I don't think we have managed to reach our potential, not even close. Yes, the party has been distracted at times by external events that didn't help with campaigning (although a lot of that has been put to bed!). The leadership has had to spend too much time fighting fires (in some cases literally..) and dealing with structures and stability. But that is done. Elections have been fought and fought well and I'm proud of my small contribution to our efforts in Manchester and elsewhere.
But I have to face the fact that I want to change the world, or at least my bit of it. I do want our society to be better, to respect people, to listen and to allow people to succeed. I think the best way I can do that now isn't from within the Pirate Party. I know I'm good at what I do and I know I have a lot to offer in dealing with the issues that I am passionate about, but I also know that I have to do that in an achievable way, that matches my current priorities.
So May 2015 is a little like May 2010, albeit with some significant improvements. Quite a few of us who have been working with the party for a while now are tired, we've given a lot at personal cost. The Pirate Party does now need people with energy and a commitment to take this project forward.
And it has those people. If you look at the candidates that stood in this election, at people like Cristian Chesha, Mark Chapman and David Elston amongst other. As well as the stalwarts that have worked to keep the party running behind the scenes, it is clear it has a good core. I think it can move past this election and continue to improve. For those whose personal hopes and aspirations are in line with the parties aims, for those of you who believe in the things that this party was founded to achieve, it is absolutely time to step up and give it a twist. I'd encourage those people to step forward and consider leadership roles.
I know that Loz will be hard to follow, but give any of our previous candidates the time and the support and they can do it.
I also think that if Pirate Party members want to see success, they have to get involved directly and put themselves out there. They have to talk about Pirate issues with their friends, family and co-workers. It isn't enough to hope that people notice the party, or to believe that being right is enough. It isn't.
It is your party, make it yours. The tools are in place, there are resources to keep the momentum going, but it has to go now. If it isn't moving forward... it's retreating.
Now the party needs people who can work together for a common aim, if it can figure out what that is in an era where it will face even greater challenges on all sides!
For me, I think over the last few years I've spent almost too much time looking at issues that aren't related to the party core. It's a symptom of local politics. When you spend time talking to people about dire issues, housing problems, problems accessing benefits, problems with landlords, problems with schools and you try to make a difference for them, they become the priority.
Essentially there have been hundreds of small problems that, along side my colleagues within the party, I've been able to fix. That has been great, it means we've made a real difference to people lives. But it has pulled me further and further away from the issues we were set up to deal with.
It's hard to talk to someone who is on the verge of losing their house about issues surrounding copyright, patents, digital rights or even civil liberties. So even where we have made a real difference, we may not have gained a vote, or even broader support, even where we have received thanks and appreciation.
I've been dealing with these issues and the impact of government policy, and my priority now is to do what I can to deal with them and to deal with the threat to our human rights and privacy that this government poses. The problem is that my priorities are in that order. I don't think I can do what the party needs me to do with any credibility if my priorities don't match that of the membership. So, I'm off to see what else I can do, with only good wishes for the party (well, good wishes, and several thousand photos, video clips, blender source files, and a stack of other things I've put together over the years!).
The Pirate Party is right, it needs to succeed, but it needs new people to take it in the direction that the members want and that will engage more of them. So, thank you for 5 amazing years, the next 5 are going to be hard for you and for me. The fight is worth it, but it changes us (and I think for the better), so get involved and I guarantee you you will change something!