Voters in the Vauxhall constituency will have an alternative choice from the mainstream parties in the 2015 general election with the Pirate Party announcing Mark Chapman as their candidate to contest the seat.
The Pirate Party is a relatively new political organisation with the broad aim of:
“To bring about reform to Copyright and Patent laws, support privacy and reduce surveillance from government and businesses, and guarantee genuine freedom of speech for everyone.”
The Vauxhall constituency is currently represented by Labour’s Kate Hoey. The boundary includes Vassall, Stockwell and as far down as Ferndale towards Acre Lane.
Speaking about his selection, Chapman said:
“I am delighted to have been chosen to stand in Vauxhall and will be seeking to engage with people across the constituency in the next 8 months. I will be explaining what a Pirate politician can bring to Westminster that none of the big parties are doing – to highlight amongst others issues of democratic dis-engagement, civil liberties, and digital rights.”
Chapman is no stranger to Lambeth politics having stood to become a Councillor for the Vassall ward in May 2014, picking up 129 votes – a 1.4% share of the vote.
A Pirate Party win in Vauxhall 2015 is of course not going to happen. Kate Hoey polled 21,498 votes back in 2010 – a 49.8 share of the vote.
But simply by standing as a candidate does give the Pirate Party a platform to start a debate about civil liberties and digital disruption within the constituency.
Speaking to Brixton Buzz, Chapman said:
“I think that there are a number of issues with the Council’s digital policy. Firstly, it is not Digital by Default – that is, the council are doing things the way in which they have always done them, and then try to put a digital ‘layer’ on top. This means that Digital is not integrated into the actual working and understanding but is an adjunct.
Secondly, being Digital shouldn’t mean holding taxpayers and residents data insecurely, but not releasing Council data publically unless an FoI comes in – but the other way around. A true open digital policy would mean that all the council data is publicly available in a manner in which Open Data users can access it. (i.e. not just publishing a pdf online with some tables in it, but allowing access to the data in the tables.)”
Chapman is also keen to address cycling within the borough – an issue which to be fair, Lambeth Council is also taking very seriously:
“In terms of specifically local policies I am a member of the London Cycling Campaign and would look to continue to encourage cycling as the default commuter method in Vauxhall. This would be by working with Lambeth to increase the provision of on-street cycle storage for those residents in flats particularly where storage is an issue.
Also, by being an active and committed voice in consultations about cycling provision with TFL and the Mayors office – for example in the Vauxhall Cross restructuring.”
The Pirate Party’s participation in 2015 may make Vauxhall Cross an interesting issue. The Lambeth Labour party is keen to demolish the iconic Vauxhall Bus Station and replace it with retail. The Labour MP Kate Hoey strongly disagrees with the local policy from her own party.
The Pirate Party stood nine candidates in the 2010 general election. Chapman may be able to take a few votes here and there away from the main parties, but perhaps more important is the opportunity for voters to think about how politics is played out in the borough.
Chapman told Brixton Buzz:
“Aside from these key points, we are different in the way in which we operate – we are a truly democratic and devolved party – we ran our previous manifesto consultation online with both members and non-members contributing. For the European elections last year, we crowd-sourced our deposit online and accepted Bitcoin donations.”
Kate Hoey will once again stand as the Labour Party (sort of…) candidate for 2015. The Conservatives have selected James Bellis, a local Vauxhall resident. The LibDems and Greens have so far been strangely quiet.