MarComedy: Don’t make me laugh

For what tickles my fancy in media, communications and life in general.

Democracy Has A Pulse

with one comment

Yesterday, the BBC reported that an online petition service launched by Number 10 and a non-profit called My Society has reached 1 million signatures – including over 600 000 signatures for a petition to replace road tax with pricing based on vehicle use. I won’t claim to be familiar with all the issues facing the British government and its constituents, but it seems that the service has been warmly (and sensibly) embraced by British voters. Of course there are people who abuse the system (including a petition to have broccoli reclassified as a toxic substance) but

"Downing Street said e-petitions were ‘proving to be a popular way for people to get their views heard.’ The service was launched 3 months ago, with more than 2,400 petitions being posted so far."

A full list of petitions filed so far can be found here and you can also read about the goal and operational parameters of the project.

I am hugely in favour of anything that allows citizens to have a more open channel of communications with their representatives and that fosters participatory democracy. It’s a far too common problem that people don’t vote, don’t get involved, don’t care about politics and public policy because they feel they have neither the resources to get involved nor the sense that their voice carries sway in the ‘corridors of power’.

The service claims to be designed to be both transparent and trustworthy. I suppose the litmus test for trustworthiness is whether these petitions impact policy-making. I was also pleased to learn that even those petitions deemed to be in poor taste, frivolous or incendiary can still be found in a separate section of the site.

This can be a great PR tool for the party (not so much for Tony Blair who is set to step down sometime soon). It demonstrates the party/government values the input of its constituents and recognizes that an engaged citizenry is beneficial to the political health of the country. The site claims that any serious petition that raises an appropriate number of signatures (the benchmark is pretty low) will be reviewed by officials and will receive a response (depending on the issue that response may even come from the PM or a relevant minister).

Political discourse is far too often a monologue. Even politicians seem to be talking at each other rather than to each other and the voice of the common citizen is generally left out in the cold once polling stations close. I admire the leadership shown by Number 10 and applaud this effort to directly engage concerned citizens in an accessible and (it appears) transparent fashion.

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Written by Jonathan Dunn

January 31, 2007 at 8:54 am

Posted in Blogroll, Politics

One Response

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  1. […] had previously highlighted the British government’s online petition site, now I’ve been pointed to […]


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