We’re back in the newly refurbished Manchester Digital Laboratory this month for our first meetup of 2015. This month we have two speakers on the theme of Bitcoin in politics: Gulnar Hasnain of the Green Party and Cristian Chesha of the Pirate Party. They will each give a short talk, then they will both sit on a panel where you can ask them questions together. (Note: this isn’t a political hustings, so we have to avoid “What would you do if you were elected?” type questions. But you’ll be able to ask as many questions about broader Bitcoin & politics topics as you like!)

Gulnar Hasnain – Green Party

Gulnar Hasnain (@gulnar73) is the parliamentary candidate for The Green Party in Vauxhall, London (for which she is accepting bitcoin donations), and co-founder of CoinSummit, a company that curates events connecting Bitcoin entrepreneurs with investors.

Gulnar will be talking about why she has decided to accept Bitcoin for her parliamentary campaign. She will offer her personal perspective on what implications Bitcoin might have for politics, the environment, and business. Gulnar will be happy to answer questions on all of these.

Prior to being self-employed, Gulnar served as Head of Environment and Sustainability Strategy for the Mayor of London’s economic development agency, with responsibilities in climate change, health inequalities, and urban regeneration (with a focus on clean tech).

She has received an MBA from the University of Chicago in 2011, an MSc in Development Studies from Birkbeck University, London and an MEng in Chemical Engineering from Imperial College, London.

Gulnar is married with two children and has spent time living in Italy, Portugal and Turkey.

Gulnar explains why she is standing as a parliamentary candidate:

“After spending a year in Istanbul I have first hand experience of how a wonderful city can be ruined and the rights of vulnerable communities ignored if a strong Green lobby is not challenging the government on issues such as transport, affordable housing and access to green spaces. It is the reason why when I moved back to London I became more active in local campaigning. We want to see real change towards a fairer society. The government should be there to serve the majority, not just the interests of a few.”

Cristian Chesha – Pirate Party

Cristian Chesha (@Chesha) is the 2015 Pirate Party UK candidate for Manchester Gorton. Pirate Party UK were the first UK political party to accept Bitcoin, and this year, under Cristian’s guidance, they have expanded to include: Litecoin, Dogecoin, Peercoin and Darkcoin (the top 5 mineable crypto currencies by market cap).

Cristian is a GNU/Linux professional who has advocated the use of free software and campaigned for digital liberty for over 15 years. He has spent the last 9 years working at the University of Manchester, and looks after their Linux Web Infrastructure estate.

Cristian is a long-time member of the crypto community, and has mined and dabbled with a wide variety of coins. He says:

“The last couple of years have been more like watching a soap opera than being involved in a financial market! Although I am looking forward to stability in the future, it’s been fascinating living through - and taking part in - the ‘Wild West’ era of digital currency.”

Cristian will talk about his experiences as a member of the crypto currency community, what effect he sees it having on politics, how it can help communities, and what he sees as the future of Bitcoin in the political arena.

Bearwhale Poster Raffle (part 2)

If you attended the December 2014 meetup you may remember we raffled off a Bearwhale poster. Unfortunately due to a technical problem with one of the transactions we were unable to draw a winner. We’ll rectify this this month and award the poster to its rightful new owner!

Food & Drink

As always we’ll have sponsored pizza provided by one of the Bitcoin-accepting Takeaway.com vendors. Finally we’ll head to the pub! (Most likely the also refurbished Common Bar across the road.)