Are you actively participating or simply overwhelmed by the rise of epetitions requests?

The number of on-line petition sites appears to be growing.  Why is that?  Is it because our elected representatives take little notice of us in between elections, local or national?  Is it that we are registering disquiet at the manner in which some matters are dealt with or business conducted?

Campaigns are also run through blog sites and the plethora of social media options such as Facebook and Twitter.  Communication is easy today with the improved access to the internet, but I fear that it has not kept pace with the destruction and decline of habitats and species.

If I think back to the early days of epetitions and their topics, they illustrated an amazing diversity of subject matter from the attempt to sell off public forests, badgers & TB to the NHS and education.  Eventually the Government too joined in with their own version, I have to say I like the one Remove the subsidy  from the House of Commons Catering and Bars, an instant saving to the treasury of £5.8m, a no brainer surely in these times of austerity?  Yet it has only received 12,877 signatures so far and it closes in less than a week!  So, seemingly we happy to subsidise politicians eating and drinking habits?

Licencing of upland grouse moors and gamekeepers is another which has only received low volume sign ups, 6,566 thus far but you have until February next year to add your support.  There are calls for stopping GM crops being grown in the UK, the subject matter is fascinating and can be searched by Government department, currently there are some 384 epetions open (855 closed and 317 rejected) relating to Defra alone.  I wonder how many of these have gone on to be discussed in ‘The House’?  The badger cull received in excess of 300,000 signatures and the campaign continues …. Look at the cartoon by Ralph Underhill on Mark Avery’s blog post of 12 October, it just sums the badger issue and the politics of it all to a tee!

Note that epetitions.direct.gov.uk alerts prospective campaigners to the fact that epetitions “will be considered for debate by the Backbench Business Committee should it pass the 100 000 signature threshold”.  There is a timeframe in which any campaign has to achieve the target, but what happens in the BBC (above) will very much depend on the knowledge, expertise, qualifications of its members?  The current Chair is Natasha Engel .  The eight members comprise 4 Conservatives, 3 Labour and 1 Liberal Democrat.  I must establish what criteria they have to achieve for discussion to take place in parliament proper, that is to say a full House of Commons or Lords?  In the interim if anyone knows, drop me a line ….

I seem to be rambling, perhaps I should remind myself why I decided to post a piece on ‘campaigning’ …. I’d received a request to sign the Avaaz petition Free the Arctic 30.  The thought process then drifted as we are oft inclined!  So ….

May I also remind readers who have not already done so that the Forum has a petition currently running on the 38 Degree website: Stop & Rethink National Nature Reserves as Open Access areas.  Please think about signing it and please ask your friends, family, network colleagues to consider doing so.  We’re not averse to appropriate access, irresponsible risks from inappropriate access brings potential Likely Significant Effect on the interest features of the 87 Natura 2000 sites.  Habitats Directive compliance I hear you ask?   It seems that Natural England’s Senior Director does not consider it necessary to undertake one …. one might be forgiven for thinking that there is a potential conflict of interest by the judge & jury here, surely not?

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Both 38 Degrees and Avaaz offer would be campaigners the opportunity to create petitions, ok you have to be reasonably IT literate but the guys at 38 Degrees were certainly helpful to us (I’m sure the same would apply to Avaaz).  A quick search reveals others Change.org and Care2petition along with many more, choice – there’s certainly plenty out there available with a couple of clicks!  Then the work continues and all you have to do is use the result through follow up media &c. ….

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