Tag Archives: HM Government

Dave Gorman on government e-petitions: Hilarious and perceptive

Modern Life is Goodish: But HM Government e-petitions aren't.

Modern Life is Goodish: But HM Government e-petitions aren’t.

Vox Political is grateful to the Internet entity calling itself Tisme’s Cares (are you male, female or what? It’s hard to tell from the title) for following up on yesterday’s article about HM Government e-petitions with a link to Dave Gorman’s show, Modern Life is Goodish, in which he discusses the same subject with more wit and incisiveness than Yr Obdt Srvt could possibly manage.

The show can be viewed online, in its entirety, here – but it won’t be available forever so here are a few appropriate moments from Mr Gorman’s monologue:

There is a government website that allows you to create an e-petition. It’s supposed to boost political engagement but personally, I have my doubts… as you can see, “e-petitions are an easy, personal way for you to influence government”. Really? I’m not so sure that’s true. I think they’re an easy, personal way for you to pretend that you’re being listened to by the government…

If you get 100,000 signatures, your e-petition could be debated in the House of Commons. Am I the only one who finds the words “could be” leaping out at him? Not “will be” – “could be”, if they feel like it, if they’ve got the time.

When I checked the other day, there were more e-petitions that have been suggested and rejected than have ever been accepted, gone live and run their full course. So just for a bit of fun, I thought I’d show you three different petitions and we’d see what happened with them – see if you could guess which one was rejected. One of them was rejected, the other two weren’t.

One goes with “tax on foreign holidays”. Two goes with “poverty”. Three goes with “tax the rich!” Now the next stage is to write the body of your petition, and there are some guidelines… It tells you, “Keep your petition details short and to the point. You must say what action you want the government to take.”

Petition number one… has gone with this: “The government should have a tiered taxation policy depending on the number of foreign holidays a person takes in a year. If this stops people from holidaying abroad it is not our economy that suffers”. I think we’re all pretty clear on what they want the government to do there.

Petition number two… goes with this: “Poverty. Not really important? Actually it is. Poverty has been increasing imensivedely and we should do our best to eradicated it. It starts with you .at home not taking things forgranted but appriciating it.whats little for us is huge for them.so make it count”. End of petition! I don’t know what they want the government to do; I’ve not idea!

“Tax the rich” has gone with: “Tax the rich! They can afford to pay!”

There you go – three different e-petitions. You’ve seen them in all their glory. My question… is which one do you think was rejected?

I’ve misled you ever so slightly. Only one of these actually made it onto the website and went live. Two of them were rejected.

“Tax on foreign holidays” was rejected because “E-petitions cannot be used to request action on issues that are outside the responsibility of the government.” Who knew that choosing what level of tax we impose on particular activities was outside the responsibility of the government? I thought that’s exactly what they did! But apparently not; that’s the reason that one has been rejected.

“Tax the rich”… has been rejected with the following reason: “It did not have a clear statement explaining what action you want the government to take.” That’s ALL it bloody had! Nothing else! It’s bloody obvious what they want you to do! That one was rejected.

“Poverty”… has gone live; it has been published. There… At any time between now and the 5th June next year, you can join Roberta, who is so far the only signatory, but if 99,999 other people sign it, the Parliamentary authorities are obliged to consider whether or not they should have a debate about whether or not we should try to solve poverty by all “appriciating” things more.

There’s no consistency about the way they run this site. This petition, for example – “Apple should open a store in Leeds” – this one was rejected, and I understand why – with good reason, obviously. Because it says, “E-petitions cannot be used to request action on issues that are outside the responsibility of the government.” That makes sense.

But if that was rejected, why was this – “Open a TGI Fridays restaurant in Hull” – accepted? This was published! “Imagine the amount of tourists we are going to have in the city having recently being voted the city of culture 2017 and we can’t even offer them the sumptuous taste of a Jack Daniels burger! So come on everybody let’s get this out there and bring TGI Fridays to Hull!!!!” As far as I’m concerned, if 100,000 people signed that, they should take the bloody ‘City of Culture’ away from them!

This is basically an online wishing well… You toss your idea in and you won’t even hear a splash but you’ve had your say.

Instant, easy communication isn’t always better.

Agreed.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
(
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
bringing you the best of the mass media!

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

Do government e-petitions allow our voice to be heard – or stifle it?

141008epetitions

“e-petitions are an easy, personal way for you to influence government and Parliament in the UK. You can create an e-petition about anything that the government is responsible for and if it gets at least 100,000 signatures, it will be considered for debate in the House of Commons. You can find more information about how the House of Commons deals with e-petitions on the Backbench Business Committee website

That was a lie, wasn’t it?

How many e-petitions have been created since the site went up on August 4, 2011? How many of those have actually resulted in a House of Commons debate, let alone a change of government policy? Barring the WOW Petition debate, it’s hard to think of any. The debate on WOW’s forerunner, Pat’s Petition, only took place because Labour used one of its Opposition Day debates to get the issue aired.

According to this Guardian report, there were more than 1,000 visits a minute on the day the site went up – equivalent to more than 1.5 million visits a day. The site overloaded and went down in a matter of hours.

Would you like to know how many visits it gets now? At the time of writing, the top 12 petitions had received 189 signatures in the previous hour. The lowest-performing of those had just eight.

If those were the only petitions receiving signatures, then the average has dropped from 1,000 per minute to just three. Let’s be charitable and assume some other petitions have been signed. Let’s put it at five.

Why the tail-off?

Well, it’s hard to believe the spiel about influencing government and Parliament when a petition gathers enough signatures, wins a debate in the House of Commons, the vote goes the way the petitioners wanted… and then nothing happens. Nothing at all.

That’s what happened at the WOW debate. Vox Political ran a live blog on the day so you can read what happened for yourself. The motion was for a cumulative impact assessment into the effects on claimants of the Coalition government’s benefit ‘reforms’, and it was carried. Experts have explained to the government that such an assessment is well within their capabilities, but the government has denied these claims, despite producing no evidence itself.

Is it any wonder that people have lost faith in this system?

E-petitions were supposed to be a way for the public to influence Parliament.

Instead, it seems, they are a way for the government to sideline anyone who has a legitimate complaint about political decisions.

Alternatively, you might think this view is mistaken – so guess what? We’ll have another poll.

[polldaddy poll=8360902]

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
(
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
asking the difficult questions!

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook