The Epetition Fallacy…

The fallacy being the belief that the government actually cares what you vote for, when there is zero evidence to support that belief.

Epetitions are, in fact, a crock, designed to give people the illusion of having a degree of influence on the government’s policy-making process. But that’s all it is – an illusion.

The only epetition, as far as I’ve been able to establish, that accomplished anything at all, was the Hillsborough epetition.

The badger cull epetition got its 100k in record time. The debate condemned the cull and called for its end. The government announced that it would resume next summer.

100,000 signatures on a government epetition will get an informal debate in a back room of the House of Commons – not in the chamber of the House, where the normal business takes place (and which MPs sometimes actually attend). And that’s all it guarantees you.

There’s a very good reason for that.

The results of formal debates on the floor of the House can reach conclusions, and make decisions, that are binding but, with the coalition’s majority, having decisions forced upon them of which they disapprove is unlikely, unless the LibDems simultaneously discover that they have balls, a moral compass, and a conscience – good luck with that.

However, the less formal epetition debates, taking place away from the chamber as they do, have a massive and so far insurmountable problem – any decisions reached are not binding.  In theory, a petition calling for the prosecution of David Cameron can get the requisite number of votes (assuming it’s approved in the first place, which is highly unlikely), the motion can be carried in debate, and absolutely nothing will happen as a result as the decision has no standing in law.

Which means that Cameron and company can simply say, “Thanks for your time, folks, but we really don’t give a toss what you think,” and wander off to the nearest bar, laughing their cocks off, as they are wont to do at the slightest provocation.

And someone might be moved to say to me “But at least they know what a lot of us think!” And, indeed, that’s true. The problem is, though, as has been demonstrated amply, and repeatedly, during the past two years and 7 months, that it matters not one iota what we think, because they simply don’t care. Between general elections we’re just an irritation, like doorstep evangelists, and like them, best ignored.

Where an epetition is very effective, though, is in giving the government a list of the unhappy and the disaffected – I’m sure they’re grateful.


6 thoughts on “The Epetition Fallacy…

  1. There is no garuntee that an epetition will recive a debate – only that it will be considered.
    So no epetition cos they are a waste of time? And what pray do you suggest we do? All roll over meekly accepting theur lot for us or fight back s we do?
    PP didn’t get the required 100K for a possible debate but we hav been offered any Opposition Day by Labour. This was due to the contacts mae during its running – the number of people who did sign – an the support from those who once would have sided with this gov. Don’t belittle those who try so hard to make a difference. We do not need divide and rule amongst disabled people. That is playing straight into the hands of Cameron, IDS, Osborne, and Evil McVey.
    ……..’because god people did nothing.’
    Pat x

    • This argument is getting old, Pat.

      The fact that I think epetitions are an exercise in futility is NOT the same as saying your case is without merit, which is clearly your interpretation.

      And this might come as a shock, Pat, but people are allowed to express opinions that aren’t the same as yours. Also, not agreeing with you on the subject of epetitions is not even in the same universe as “divide and rule,” and frankly your “If you’re not with me you’re against me!” stance is crass.

      It is an incontrovertible fact that any decisions reached as a result of a successful epetition ARE NOT BINDING on the government. If you can’t – or won’t – understand that, you have a problem. Though I can’t help noticing, among all the griping, you don’t once say that I’m wrong.

      Whether this Opposition Day thing can achieve a binding result I have absolutely no idea, but it’s a fact that an epetition, processed through normal channels, cannot. And saying so doesn’t make it my bloody fault.

      You don’t agree with me, that’s fine, that’s your choice.

      That you apparently choose to take an extremely generalised post and make it about you is not fine (if you pay attention to what I wrote Pat, I named nobody, nor did I mention any specific epetition – deliberately so. And, in fact, your very first sentence simply adds to the futility I described.

      Thanks for that.

  2. That upsets me – I thought I was making some kind of contribution 😦 If I could go to areas to speak and to attend rallies etc., then I would – it’s really not fun being housebound is it? There is no other way to sound off 😦

    • I sign most petitions that come my way – not entirely sure why – but realistically the chances of them achieving anything are slim to none. Let’s face it, if there was any chance of them affecting the way the government behaves, they’d never have been introduced.

      Last year – or early this year, not sure which – I asked for people to send info on which petitions had succeeded – just the one – Hillsborough.

      That, of course, gave the government the chance to look like the good guys.

      You could sound off by writing a blog, I suppose, though it can be something of a two-edged sword, as you can see from Pat’s comment. Frankly, though, her “if you’re not for me you’re against me stance” will do nothing but stifle debate

  3. i am sure i heard Pats petition mentioned by some politician the other day but for the life of me i cant remember who or what i was watching. possibly a you tube video of some political meeting of some sort. it sounded like it had at least had some notice taken of it by whoever that person was, cant remember if it was to do with the debate on it or not.. memory not that good at times im afraid…..
    there was another e petition did some good. but it was ages ago. that was saving our forests. must be over 2 years ago though certainly while this lot were in office. like you Ron i do tend to sign as many as i can though must admit that we are now getting some through that i have a debate with myself over whether to sign or not. its now taking up quite some time to keep signing them all and its fast getting to the stage where i have to draw the line somewhere.

    • There’s just too many epetitions out there, most of them grinding some small part of the same axe. To be honest, as I said some time ago, I think people are just tired of them.

      Some bugger, this afternoon, dropped a dozen tweets all at once into my Twitter timeline, plugging an petition. That’s spam, I don’t care what the cause is, and he got blocked.

      I also feel very strongly that epetitions are a good way for the government to syphon off anger and frustration, instead of it driving people onto the streets in protest. No epetitions in Greece, and they’re not taking it lying down.

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