The service, commissioned by that office and implemented/hosted by mySociety.Org (see the Guardian’s in-depth profile on founder Tom Steinberg from January) is generating some major heat. Meaning, it is working. It is allowing millions of British citizens to express themselves directly to government in a way that the government can actually respond – both technically and politically.
The media hype is certainly causing political handwringing and I am not surprised the many (definitely not all) of the top petitions are oppositional in nature. Tony Blair has given a great e-gift to his citizens and perhaps an even greater gift to the next Prime Minister. Who knows, if the petition significantly alters the road pricing scheme, it might remove a key loss-generating issue from the next election? … Hmmm, how about … “You raised your voice. We listened. You helped us develop better ideas and we compromised. Not all of the more hardened protesters against road improvements agree with the final outcome, but in the end e-petitioning shows that we are willing to accept criticism and form a new relationship with citizens.” Or something like that.
Check out these news headlines and visit the message archives of the UK and Ireland E-Democracy Exchange (now open without registration) for very active behind-the-scenes discussions among over 100 regional e-democracy practitioners and experts:
* The Times: A million motorists embarrass road price ministers (top front page story)
* The Guardian: Ministers wake to potential of people power on the net – As noted in the UK and Ireland E-Democracy Exchange, Tom Steinberg has been asked to lead a review of policy by the Cabinet Office.
* The Guardian: Downing Street to send Blair emails to 2 million road pricing protesters – Furious minister resists policy concessions
* Independent: Critics seize No 10’s petitions website to slate Government
* BBC: The petition, the ‘prat’ and a political ideal
- E-petitions site creator hails changing democracy
* BBC: Will e-petitions change anything?
* Here are 29 more articles from Google News.
* Register: Minister praises community sites – Growing appetite for forums feeds public sector
* Number 10 Press Release: One millionth petitioner signs up (30 Jan)
P.S. As noted above, the UK and Ireland E-Democracy Exchange decided to open their past messages up for access without registration. Dig into this exicting online community of practice here: groups.dowire.org/groups/ukie