The Government is being pushed to defend their proposed new “road pricing scheme”, since the official No. 10 petition website scored over 1 million signatures in protest against it. The Transport Secretary has said that the scheme will not go ahead if public opinion is overwhelmingly against it.
This is pretty shocking. They didn’t take any notice of unprecedented numbers of people protesting the War (including an unprecedented number of first-timers), they banned actual protests from an area around Parliament, but a website has been visible enough to force comments from MPs. The total signatories against the road pricing scheme was, at time of writing, “1,128,622″.
Of course, not all the petitions on the site are what Tony Blair wants to hear. The page itself has been running for ages with little sign that anyone was watching, but that could have been due to the somewhat comedy content. Early suggestions to the Prime Minister included:
“Stop using the threat of terror to pass laws that are illiberal and ineffective.”
“We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to sing “We’re Going To Hang Out The Washing On The Siegfried Line” through a megaphone while standing in a barrel of custard outside Parliament.” Submitted by Tez Burke of Gun-totin’ Badgers for Jesus. (Sadly rejected by the moderators)
And my personal favourite:
“Replace the National Anthem with ‘Gold’ by Spandau Ballet.”
(That one is currently in 40th place).
So what does all this mean? Could it finally be a forum that won’t be routinely ignored by authority, and a chance to show real public opinion on the important issues of the day?
I don’t know, but I found a sense of fellowship amongst like-minded individuals when I spotted a petition calling for Ruth Kelly to resign. Apparently I’m not the only one who says it so often that I was given my own tag. Now, if we can just get it up to a million…