This week the BBC reported: “A plan to allow popular online petitions to be debated in Parliament within a year has been given the go ahead by the government” (read more).
On reading the article I had to wonder; is this a move towards our politicians actually listening to the electorate for a change? A British version of American style political dream or, is it just another political gimmick? One that is designed to placate the untrusting and disinterested voting public and curry popularity?
Are we suddenly searching for the ideology of the Gettysburg Address whereby we have ‘government of the people, for the people and by the people’ ? I expect many UK residents have absolutely no bloody idea where Gettysburg is, never mind the sociopolitical significance it holds to the American population. In recent times our commercial, social and to a certain extent political evolution, has appeared to mirror that of the good ol’ USA, so I suppose it’s a possibility?
The idea is that; petitions receiving the most support – probably 100,000 signatures – would be debated, with some possibly becoming bills. However, despite the government ‘go-ahead’, my suspicion is that it is a gimmick. The petition process has been and could be a useful tool for the future however, when you hear some of the critical comments or the statistics behind the news, the process appears unlikely to achieve any of the desired results.
Apparently, the Labour party are worried “crazy ideas” would eat up valuable time in parliament. That’s rich coming from a party that put all sorts of crap on the table during their tenure and, the petition process was originally introduced by them in the first place! One of their MPs admitted it was possibly an “attractive idea to those who haven’t seen how useless this has been in other parts of the world when it’s tried”…
“The blogosphere is not an area that is open to sensible debate; it is dominated by the obsessed and the fanatical and we will get crazy ideas coming forward.” (Paul Flynn MP)
How bloody pompous from a man who is supposedly a representative of the people, but one who also utilises the ‘power’ of blogosphere himself, to further his own personal beliefs and ideology. More evidence to support the fact; very few MPs are actually interested in what the electorate have to say about anything. At least not once they’ve been enthroned into their ivory tower at Westminster.
There are obviously opposing views about the ‘value’ of the online petition thing and I suppose that is to be expected. Especially when you consider the limited tangible output from the original process. That said, isn’t any conduit for an effective information flow between the electorate and our representatives a worthwhile process?
The original process apparently threw up suggestions such as ‘Jeremy Clarkeson for Primeminister’. A factor that evidences the somewhat frivolous nature of our electorate however, given some of the previous incumbents of the post, perhaps it wasn’t such a stupid idea after all?
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