With the excitement of May 7th, and Her Majesty due to announce the opening of a new term of a conservative government later this month, the election and all its trappings have been the talk of the country for the past few weeks.
It is curious to see how Bitcoin fits into the political landscape. A decentralised peer-to-peer transaction mechanism doesn’t necessarily have an obvious political alignment. After all, the benefits of Bitcoin are universal. That said, however, there is an undeniable type of supporter of Bitcoin, and that type can probably be located on the political spectrum.
The following generalisations are precisely that, generalisations, but it allows us to build up a current stereotype of Bitcoin adopters.
Firstly, Bitcoin enthusiasts are usually young. Young in the sense of under 50 years old, rather than adolescent. Pensioners are unlikely to be mass adopters of Bitcoin, just as they are less likely to embrace new technology and gadgetry.
Secondly, Bitcoin is by its very nature more suitable to tech-savvy individuals, who tend to have a higher-than average level of education. In class terms, Bitcoin has middle class appeal.
Thirdly, and most importantly, Bitcoin appeals to those who oppose the establishment. The fact that the concept of Bitcoin is decentralised, uncontrolled, and based on peer-to-peer operations implies that Bitcoin users are effectively escaping the system and in some way are therefore ‘sticking it to the man’.
So the above mean that Bitcoin supporters tend to be young, educated, and antidisestablishmentarian. Of the UK political parties, whilst these three factors could apply to pretty much any left-leaning party, there is no party that is a more natural fit for such a stereotype than the Green Party and their youthful, schooled and revolutionary followers.
And the Green Party is well aware of it. As part of her campaign for the 2015 general election, green party candidate for Vauxhall, Gulnar Hasnain, publicly announced that she was seeking to raise £1000 equivalent in Bitcoin to fund her electoral campaign. Electoral rules mean that provided each contribution remains below a value of £500, it is not counted as a political donation, and therefore records (of a donor’s name and address) do not need to be kept. Which is fortunate, as Bitcoin users value anonymity. By the time of the election Gulnar Hasnain had exceeded her target, raising more than £1500-worth of Bitcoin contributions. In the end, she came third in her constituency, having received 7.6% of the vote, an increase of some 6% since the previous election.
It is evident that Bitcoin has a long way to go before it can be said to have helped transform the political landscape here in the UK. It is also clear that the Green Party knows that the technology appeals to its current electoral segmentation. I wouldn’t be surprised that if and when Bitcoin becomes more mainstream, the Green Party capitalise on their advantage, and there could well be yet another Green surge at the next election.