We often talk about the progress the party is making and the things we want to change, but beyond some of our larger national successes we don't say as much as we could about when we do make an impact. Its time to change that, so:
It is starting to feel like we are making real progress on some of our core issues - maybe not as much or as quickly as we might wish, but enough to show that we can be a real force for change, now!
In Manchester, we have been facing off with the Labour Party in elections for the best part of 4 years on a raft of local issues, including digital. It's significant, then, that this week Manchester Labour have decided that they finally want to follow our lead and push for 'Better Broadband' in the run up to the local elections! Granted, they have been a bit slow off the mark and in the past have been dismissive of such issues, but we have shown them the way and they are now at least talking about it... and it is an important issue.
Ever since we started campaigning in the centre of Manchester, we have highlighted the importance of everyone being able to take part in the digital revolution. Loz Kaye, Maria Aretoulaki and Tim Dobson all called for support to create world-class infrastructure in their city; infrastructure for everyone, not just for businesses or those in better-off areas. In fact, as far back as 2012, Manchester Pirates were calling for both homes and businesses to be included in fibre broadband roll-outs.
It’s good to see that as well as now campaigning for improvements, Labour recognise the current situation - that the digital infrastructure they have been responsible for delivering is, in their own words, “just not acceptable”.
Of course, at this point their response is just a petition for BT to step up and deliver, but now that they have accepted the problem we know we can demand more from the ruling party in one of Britain’s Digital Cities.
For us, the next step is making the case for rolling out public WiFi, and ensuring access reaches out to the poorest communities in the city - those who need it most. It's an argument we can win, and one we have to win if we want everyone to grasp the advantages that the digital revolution offers.
However, it's not just in Manchester where we are starting to bring pressure and see results. Yesterday saw the European Parliament vote to secure net neutrality across the whole EU - albeit as part of a Telecommunications regulation package. The vote was overwhelming in its support for the measures, and will leave the EU in a far better place as well as benefiting consumers.
Those few that did oppose the measures, or even parts of them, (including North-West Labour MEP Arlene McCarthy) now seem to be feeling the pressure. There are suggestions that voters will shift their support to parties who support freedom and sensible digital policy, abandoning those on the wrong side of the digital debate.
This is what we exist for. We have shown that we can directly influence the direction of our governments at every level by challenging politicians on the ground, in the media and in elections. We can force them to take into account the issues we know have to be dealt with when they run and develop policy. Most importantly, if they fail to make the right decisions we can take them on directly because our ideas and principles apply both online and off.
Openness, Privacy, Inclusion and the ability to share online are all huge issues. I'm looking forward to seeing more of this as we run our European election campaigns and I hope that you can get involved or support us too! The more help we get, the more we can do.