In the News

How useful are e-petitions?

Jonny Clark

3rd November 2015

The link below takes you to a radio clip on the changes and history of the e-petitions in the UK.

The use of e-petitions is a fascinating aspect of a modern democracy as, in principle, it would appear to allow for greater and wider participation in the political process. If, like me, you've ever 'signed' such a petition you will know that it is a relatively easy thing to do - often it comes to your attention via a link from an external source and you 'fill' in an online form that takes less than a minute. Suddenly, petitions are not something that you just sign whilst walking passed a table in the town square.

However, the radio clip and article (second link) are indicating that the e-petition system has not been wholly effective in increasing government debate on wide-spread issues facing the masses. Since 2011, only 30 parliamentary debates have been undertaken as a direct result of an e-petition. Sometimes, the power of social media also means that time and energy can be put into processes that are not meant seriously, such as the petition which received 50,000 signatories asking for Jeremy Clarkson to be made Prime Minister (I don't think it was serious, was it? Besides, it was before we knew that he gets a little miffed if his food isn't cooked to his desired tastes).

So now the government has a new system requiring only 10,000 signatories for the government to make a response.

We live in interesting times!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p036cjk5

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-34476264

Jonny Clark

Jon Clark has been teaching economics and business studies for over 25 years primarily in the Further Education sector. Before joining tutor2u, he was a senior manager at South Cheshire College in Crewe.

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