The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed the badge in the sidebar linking to an e-petition on the smoking ban. E-petitions seem to be the flavour of the month at the moment. The more cynical among us are skeptical about such things. The idea that they will be debated in parliament if they reach a minimum level of support is indeed tempting, but we tend to wonder if such a thing will ever happen.
An e-petition calling for benefits to be removed from people convicted of rioting will not be discussed by MPs for at least a month.
As no MPs were prepared to support it, nothing will happen for a month. If no one supports it then?
A petition calling for the release of cabinet papers relating to the 1989 Hillsborough disaster – in which 96 Liverpool FC fans died – also gathered the required backing.
The Backbench Business Committee discussed subjects for Commons debate on the next available date – 15 September – at its meeting. But no MP spoke in favour of debating the petitioners’ demands, meaning they cannot be included.
So, in essence, the whole exercise is a sop to the proles. A patina of concern for what we think. They don’t care. They never have. They never will.
The idea of a full on direct democracy does scare me. Minorities would be trampled underfoot by the demands of the mob – because, frankly, that is what the tyranny of the majority will mean.
Unfortunately, a representative democracy such as ours means that we have rule by an unrepresentative minority who will ignore the will of the majority even when it is thrust in their faces. That balance between the will of the majority and the rights of the minority that representative democracy is supposed to protect just ain’t happening and never will while we have an absurd party system combined with an equally absurd voting system that leads to huge majorities on the basis of a minority of the vote – not to mention the disillusioned and disenfranchised who decide to withhold their vote.
So, sure, sign the e-petitions if you so desire, but don’t expect anything to happen as a consequence.