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START A PETITION! - or not...


Staff member
Oct 29, 2018
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Anyone can start a petition and I bet you have been asked multiple times to sign one...
I have signed a few -
the ones I tend to not bother with are online petitions to Parliament.
Here is why:

Before writing up a petition to Parliament everyone should read their rules - which limit content quite dramatically...

Then we have the fact that, if it seeks a change in the law where they judge that the law already covers the issue mentioned - then they will automatically throw it out. Very few know the law well enough to make this judgement correctly.
If another live petition already covers the same issue - they will throw it out.
Very few people bother to check and see whether other petitions are active on the same topic.
Then there is the not reaching 10,000 within their set time...most petitions that are not "tabloidishly" popular fail to reach 10,000 signatures.
(that gets it dropped)

this is from the linked guidance - (*with comments)
"How petitions work
You create a petition. Only British citizens and UK residents can create or sign a petition.
You get 5 people to support your petition. We’ll tell you how to do this when you’ve created your petition.
We check your petition, then publish it. We only reject petitions that don’t meet the standards for petitions

(*it has to be well written and clear in a legal intent)
The Petitions Committee reviews all petitions we publish. They select petitions of interest to find out more about the issues raised. They have the power to press for action from government or Parliament.
(*I have never heard of anyone having this happen with their petition, and I'm not expecting to hear about any)
At 10,000 signatures you get a response from the government.
(*no one says that this response need be anything other than a template that says 'well bully for you, you got 10,000 people to sign this thing of yours, now we will just dismiss it with a glib phrase showing our total disdain for the public)
At 100,000 signatures your petition will be considered* for a debate in Parliament." (*considered - then usually dismissed)

so there are many hurdles at which the vast majority of petitions fall -

Check out the top ten most signed petitions in UK petitioning history, some of which did prompt a debate in parliament, - but not one has resulted in the government doing anything.

For me this shows that this is a lip service to online democracy...not a serious way to try and influence the government of the land, that is much better done by working with MPs and public campaigns that win large scale MP support... but,
Nothing to stop you trying:-

and if you want to, first check out "Standards for petitions" check this link - last section...