A little over two years ago I posted something about Online Petitions. At the time I stated my intention to take a break and not sign any online petitions for at least a week. In fact I managed a four week hiatus before signing a SumOfUs petition asking PayPal to stop discriminating against Palestinians. One of the reasons I keep a record of signed petitions is so that when I am asked to sign one I can do a quick search to check whether I have already signed it. For this reason I also record surveys that I have taken part in but there are far fewer of those.
Tag Archives: activism
Over the years I have kept a pretty comprehensive record of all the online petitions I have signed, amounting to over 500. Of those signatures, 320 of them were on just 6 different petition sites:
- UK Government and Parliament(77)
- Care2 petitions(57)
- 38 Degrees(53)
Since joining the Green Party in November I have been going along to local meetings and when there was a call for candidates to stand in the local council elections I volunteered. The aim was to get a Green Party candidate on the ballot for all wards of Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council and I agreed to stand in my own ward, Hatfield West, where I have lived for over 20 years. Hatfield also has a Town Council and three seats were up for election in West Ward so I offered to put myself forward for that as well.
The UK Trident Program maintains a fleet four Vanguard-class submarines armed with Trident II D-5 ballistic missiles, able to deliver thermonuclear warheads from multiple independent re-entry vehicles. It is the most powerful capability of the British military forces (I copied that from the above linked Wikipedia article). We are told that this capability somehow keeps us safe because nobody will dare attack us (or our friends) for fear of vaporisation. There are some fairly obvious objections to this theory which I could go into but I will save myself the effort and just remind people of a 2009 letter to the Times in which the former head of armed forces, Field Marshal Lord Bramall, backed by two senior generals, said that “Nuclear weapons have shown themselves to be completely useless as a deterrent to the threats and scale of violence we currently face or are likely to face”. Completely useless and “virtually irrelevant except in the context of domestic politics”.
I am fifty years old and have never been a member of any political party, but with the media gearing up for a General Election in May next year I have more or less made up my mind to join the Green Party.
Although in theory we will be voting for individuals, the vast majority of votes cast will be for people standing as official candidates for one of a small number of dominant political parties and the whole thing will be presented as a battle for votes between these parties. One of the key elements in the battle will be a number of televised debates, and between themselves the main broadcasters have decided to limit participation to just four political parties. They were bound to include the Conservative Party and the Labour Party, and I guess they thought they would have to include the Liberal Democrats despite their huge loss of support since forming a governing coalition with the Conservative Party. What seems wrong is that they will also include UKIP but not the Green Party (or indeed the SNP).
Well that was an anti-climax. Had the vote gone the other way on Thursday I expect the celebrations would still have been going on. In the end, 44.65% of votes cast were for an independent Scotland with 55.25% against (see full results). Not as close as polls were suggesting but still a lot closer than the UK establishment would have liked. So what saved the Union?
In 2001 David Blunkett announced that cannabis would be downgraded from Class B to Class C of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. From 2001 to 2004 I attended the annual Cannabis Festival in Brockwell Park, organised by the Brixton Cannabis Coalition. It was a very popular event and the police turned a blind eye to mass public consumption of the herb. During this time people also started exploiting a loophole which allowed the sale of fresh psilocybin containing mushrooms even though psilocybin itself was classified as a Class A drug. These were high times indeed. The downgrading of cannabis to Class C did not actually occur until January 2004 but things generally seemed to be moving in the right direction.
Not long after returning from my Stonehenge trip I was away again for a wedding in Devon. I say a wedding but it was not one that would be recognised by UK law – indeed the ceremony included the words “fuck the state and it’s bits of paper”. The event took place at Landmatters permaculture project near Totnes, which I had heard about but never visited. There were around 200 guests camping for the weekend and I knew a lot of them (including the happy couple) from the 2005 G8 Bike Ride and Bicycology. For music and PA they were keen to use the bicycle towed sound system called Pedals that I helped build nine years ago for the G8 ride, so I agreed to fetch it in my van from its present home in a London and take it to Devon. I set off a day early to visit a friend Mike in Exeter and slept on his boat before continuing on to Totnes, from where I followed directions down increasingly narrow lanes to Landmatters.
To say that the mainstream media “loves hate and hates love” is obvious hyperbole but if there wasn’t an element of truth in it then there would be no need for publications like Positive News. Out of interest I just did a search for “Negative News” and as I expected there does not seem to be a publication of that title but there are plenty of articles on the subject. For example, near the top of the search results was a 2010 article in Psychology Today called Why we love bad news by Ray Williams. So one explanation is that there is indeed far more bad news than good – but that depends on how you define news. Another is that we prefer bad news to good and that the media are simply giving us what they know we want. Finally there is the more conspiratorial explanation that the media is controlled by people in whose interest it is to have a population living in fear.
Earlier today on Facebook a friend posted a link to a 38 Degrees petition to “Stop naming the August Bank Holiday as Margaret Thatcher Day”. I think in the back of my mind I knew that there was some sort of proposal to rename a holiday in honour of the Iron Lady but I had successfully blocked it from conscious thought. I see a lot of requests to sign petitions and because they are from generally like-minded Facebook friends I often agree with the cause. Sometimes I sign but there are so many that I do have to pick and choose. I would have signed this one but since it is an issue that the Government is responsible for I first checked the HM Government e-petitions website where I found petition 52411 created by Alan Jones “We oppose the poposal to change the August Bank Holday to Margaret Thatcher Day” (yes there really are two missing letters in petition title). I can’t agree with Alan’s suggestion of Winston Churchill Day as a possible alternative but I signed anyway. The advantage of the HM Government e-petition system over the likes of Avaaz and 38 Degrees is that the Government responds to petitions that receive more than 10,000 signatures and considers them for debate should they pass the 100,000 threshold. This petition has reached 48,165 signatures and the relevant Government department has responded. Apparently the proposal was put forward in a Private Members Bill introduced by Peter Bone MP but “there is no precedent for naming public holidays after individuals and the Government has no plans to do so”. What I want to know is what the hell was Peter thinking? For many the only really appropriate way to observe Margaret Thatcher Day would be full on rioting, and August seems like a prime month for it.