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Editorial

What is happening on the Government ePetition website? Are we being taken for a ride?

In 2006, ‘that great champion of democracy’ (sic),Tony Blair, with great fanfare, introduced the Government ePetition website.  For whatever reason, probably the lack of internet resources of the General Public, the website declined in usage.

In 2015, David Cameron, again with great fanfare, reintroduced the website facility which, this time, finally took off in usage.

brexit1-879646.jpgIt usually takes around a week for a petition to be published provided that it gets through the scrutiny of the Petitions Committee and provided that there are at least 5 supporters of the Petition.  However, it is strange indeed that this lengthy programme was curtailed and a controversial petition requiring the reversal of the 2016 referendum was not only published within a couple of days of submission, it achieved around 4 Million ‘signatures’.  Many of which were proved to be fraudulent including a number of ‘signatures’ from the Vatican which exceeded the total population of the Vatican State.

It is strange, indeed, that such a petition that would be useful to the general opinion in Parliament could not only be published with unheard of alacrity within a couple of days instead of the long procedure of scrutiny followed by the usual week (though often much longer) should a petition be detrimental to the wishes of the majority of Parliament Members.

However, it quickly became apparent to many people that the petitions were largely ineffectual because upon reaching 10,000 signatures, that resulted in a ‘response’ from the Government often with some bland and meaningless comment.

If a petition was successful enough to achieve the necessary 100,000 signatures, it was usually debated in Parliament.  Not the ‘Commons Chamber’ but in some background Committee Room in which various interested (or non-interested) parties turned up to offer their meagre response.

Though this is not always the case.

Every now and then, a debate (albeit in a small Committee Room) can achieve some useful result especially if it results in the embarrassment of Parliament for failing in its duty.

That is when things began to go wrong

My petition (https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/207051) which called upon the Government to condemn the 1970-70 Governments for taking us into the EC (subsequently, the EEC and EU) and by loading a resulting referendum fraudulently is an embarrassment to the Government because it will force them to acknowledge and address the existing, widespread controversy that we should not be in the EU at all.

This petition was initially rejected 3 times on the grounds ‘that it was unclear what was being asked of the Government’.  This is despite the fact that the third attempt was a exact duplicate of the same petition that was readily published in 2016.   I made a fourth attempt but more of that later.

At this point, after having received a somewhat terse reply to my complaint, I received an email from Steve Double MP (a Conservative Member of the Petition Committee) who more or less invited me to ‘do my worst’ in making the facts known to everyone.  I then wrote to my MP asking her to take up the matter with the Parliamentary Ombudsman.

Strangely, I received an email a couple of days later from a member of the Petitions Committee admin team.  Not only did she provide a draft copy for my petition and asking if I approved of it, she intimated that in that form, the petition would be accepted.  I approved it, and it was duly published on the 12 June 2018.

They ‘kindly’ allowed that the existing supporters would be accepted.  However, when it was duly published, it showed only 6 signatures; mine and 5 of the supporters.  There were, in fact, 20 supporters and I telephoned the Petitions Admin to query this and also sent a copy of their email to me enumerating the 20th supporter as proof.  I was told that she would take up the matter with their IT Team but up until this morning, she was unable to provide me with the information that they would be added to the number of signatures.

Parliament.jpgThis, though, was not the reason that I contacted the Petitions Admin this morning.

On the 8th July, 2018 I had noticed that the number of signatures had stagnated at 291 for several days.  I therefore made several comments in newspapers advertising the petition once again.  This resulted in the count going up to 305 by 5 pm that evening.  It was then that I started to write the article ‘Britain is not a feudal society’  (http://www.theunituk.org.uk/2018/06/22/britain-is-not-a-feudal-society/).  In it, I advised readers to sign the petition using the links in the article because my website data records the number links to the petitions website.

The reason that I had asked this was that several people had told me that they had signed as well as one or two that said that they were not receiving acknowledgment emails which would make the vote count.  The published numbers simply do not add up.  As of today, there are only 326 votes counted on the petition despite the fact 39 have been recorded on this site alone.

305 (the figure before the article) added to the 39 recorded on this site equals 344 votes.  Where are the other 18 and where are the original 15 missing votes from the petition supporters? (updated to midnight the day of the blog)

This morning, I also complained that people were not receiving acknowledgment emails and, although it was denied, they had already told me some weeks ago that there was a problem at their end.  Today, it was suggested that those acknowledgments were going to peoples ‘spam’ folders though I questioned whether 14 out of 35 votes were lost because of this.

It was suggested that should anyone not receive an acknowledgment email, to email the petitions team at petitions@Parliament.uk and complain about it.  I hope that you will do so should it happen to you.

Frankly, I am surprised that the other petition requiring ‘recall of MPs’ (https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/222041) is not better subscribed.  Many people are signing the ‘legallity’ one, yet not signing the other using the links in the article.  I would have thought that even remainers would be interested in forcing MPs to do their bidding.

I am seriously beginning to believe that the Government is so frightened that either or both of these petitions succeed, they are not going out of their way to ensure that ALL votes are being counted.

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Jane Davies
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Jane Davies

Anything which has the hand of the government in it is going to be ‘fiddled’ with. They are the biggest bunch of manipulating crooks in the land. I’m not surprised they are interfering in this, I have had many emails about petitions I have signed in the past that have reached the 100,000 mark therefore prompting the possibility of a debate (and a debate is not guaranteed) and all one gets is a load of waffle about how they have looked into ‘it’ and at the end of waffle and excuses they reach the conclusion that everything is fine and… Read more »

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