Originally posted on the Pirate Party website.
Tim Dobson – Pirate Party UK Education Spokesperson:
On Sunday I was in Germany watching the Pirate Party movement making history again. The Pirate Party entered the Berlin State Parliament, gaining 14 seats after polling almost 9% of the vote. At the same time the liberal FDP, a junior partner in the ruling coalition, crashed out, with only 1.9%. Pirate Party UK is inspired by the hard work of all the activists that made this result possible and sends its warmest congratulations.
Pirate Party Germany’s success shows our movement’s ideas have a broad appeal and platform. Despite smears from a clearly rattled opposition during the election campaign, the Berlin Pirates showed they have a lot to offer on education, business, representative democracy and social policy. Equally, the people of Berlin have realised that it is about time that their politicians understand the Internet better.
This result shows that the desire for a new politics and digital rights fit for the 21st century continues to grow throughout Europe. As Rick Falkvinge, Pirate Party Sweden founder put it, “We fight for civil liberties together, shoulder to shoulder, and we succeed together.”
I was lucky to get an insight into the Pirate’s campaign from the inside, their innovative poster designs and campaign slogans – ‘Ask your children why they vote for the Pirate Party’, clearly captured the imagination of the people of Berlin.
I had a great meeting with Andreas Baum, one of the 14 Pirates who will be taking up seats in the state parliament. He showed to me their ‘Glazenmobil’, a trailer with a glass wall containing a mock up of a typical front room. Their message was that instead of transparent private lives, there should be transparent politics.
In Britain, where cities are in danger of being left behind in global competition and held back by outdated political masters, the Pirate Party will continue making its case for change. We will be following in our German partners success with new candidates and a more comprehensive policy platform.
Pirate Party UK
+44 (0) 161 987 7880
Today I am in Berlin. Capital of Germany, and according to polls, soon to be one of the latest homes of the Pirate Party.
Almost as soon as I stepped out of the train station, I started noticing the distinct Pirate flag logo on the posters attached to lamp posts.
Unlike in Britain, where unions and rich overseas donors, apparently get to decide who hears a party’s point point of view, in Germany, the Pirate Party qualifies for state funding for attaining a minimum level of the vote in previous elections. For this federal election in Berlin, they have a “lean”, 50,000 euro budget.
A quick look over their campaign website though shows clearly that the crew haven’t lost any roots to technology. Links to social networking sites, including identi.ca bristles from the sides. Two tone posters with greyscale photos are everywhere. Indeed, this looks like the Pirates here are in their element. Soaking up every minute of being a “surprise” newcomer to this election.
Philipp Magalski, one of the parties top candidates in Berlin told Reuters:
“If we get into the Berlin parliament, it will generate a snowball effect, with people realising we are a force to be reckoned with.”
With the elections on Saturday/Sunday, the Pirates have nothing to lose. All that remains now, is a final sprint to the finish line.
Today, I will be “embedded” with the party, meeting the crew and helping out where possible, and I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be.
In the week that teenagers received their GCSE results, Eric Schmidt has lambasted the UK education system, and I find much to agree with him on.
The UK has a proud past of scientists and technological pioneers – the first computer wasn’t built in Silicon Valley, or somewhere in China, but here in Manchester. However, since the early eighties, our education system has failed to live up to our historic record of innovation.
The fact that computer science isn’t available as a subject at every single school is simply outrageous. It wasn’t an option at my high school – I actually had to move schools to be able to pursue my interests.
Students don’t need more classes in how to use Microsoft Word or how to search on Google – they can figure that stuff out for themselves. What’s important is that every student with an interest in technology should be encouraged to study the science, the mathematics, the engineering that lies behind it.
But it’s not all about maths and science – one of the things that we’ve seen very clearly in the past 10 years is that what makes new technology (like the iPad) innovative and exciting, isn’t just the nuts, bolts and software behind it, but the beautiful design and intuitive user interfaces.
“Over the past century the UK has stopped nurturing its polymaths. You need to bring art and science back together.”
At school, I was told that the only way into technology was to do A-level Maths. I didn’t, but today I work as a professional systems administrator. You see the same narrow-mindedness in the Higher Education cuts – only certain “priority subjects”, ie science and engineering, will get funding.
We also have look at the wider picture; the legal and regulatory framework that people grow up in. The moment a young person begins to explore the creative opportunities that technology gives them, they find out that the most basic of mashups, remixes or samples are illegal and could get them ridiculous fines.
Over the past few years, I’ve been involved with several of the Young Rewired State events – bringing young people with an interest in technology together with talented mentors to build applications with government data. I’ve seen complete novices progress into talented young innovators. I think this is what we really need in education – a focus on innovation and entrepreneurship, but in a very practical, hands-on way.
Pirate Party UK
+44 (0) 161 987 7880