What is the Pirate Party UK and why do they have a general election candidate in Norwich North?

Liam Matthews

Liam Matthews - Credit: Liam Matthews

When the list of those standing for Norwich North in the general election was published, the inclusion of a candidate for the Pirate Party UK will no doubt have led some to ask 'who?'

If you were expecting a lighthearted political party espousing the rights of salty seadogs, you would be very mistaken.

In fact, the Pirate Party UK are extremely serious - about issues such as freedom of speech, personal privacy and reform of copyright.

And their anti-establishment approach has been extremely successful in other countries - with members of the party being elected as MEPs in Sweden and Germany.

In Iceland, they fared even better, with three members elected to parliament in 2013 and added another seven in October last year.

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The UK version was formed in 2009 and first fielded nine candidates in the 2010 general election, six in 2015 and has 10 this time around.

Former University of East Anglia student Liam Matthews, 22, is their candidate in Norwich North.

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He said: 'It was in the 2015 general election that I first joined the Pirate Party having got quite into it. Not being able to vote Pirate last time, I thought I would stand myself.

'I live in Norwich North and it's an area I care about, while I've always had an interest in politics. I have a background in IT so it all sits quite nicely with me.

'The Pirate Party has three core policies - on the reform of copyright and patent laws, protection of the right to privacy and protection of the right to freedom of speech.'

Issues such as the encryption debate - whether law enforcement and intelligence services should be able to gain access to encrypted communications services, such as WhatsApp - and the way organisations make use of people's personal data are key issues for Mr Matthews.

Mr Matthews, who grew up in Downham Market but now lives in Sprowston said: 'There's so much data that people are sharing and I don't think they always appreciate how easy it is for others to get hold of that.'

The party does have stances on wider issues - such as use of corporation tax to fund the NHS and better access for all to education - but Mr Matthews is pragmatic about his chances of success.

He said: 'Hopefully by just standing we can raise awareness of some of these issues. They are not often talked about by the candidates of the major parties.

'Those politicians are generally of an older age and I feel they can be out of touch when it comes to technology.'

Other candidates standing in Norwich North are: Adrian Holmes (Green); Chris Jones (Labour); Hugh Lanham (Liberal Democrat) and Chloe Smith (Conservative).

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