To add to his woes someone has set up a petition calling on him to resign. Amazingly this seems to have gathered over 22,000 signatures in just a few days and is the fifth most popular petition on the Number 10 site. You can see for yourself at http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/please-go/
Of course, one of the problems with petitions is that they don’t allow people to put forward the opposing view. Luckily, someone has set up a petition calling on the Prime Minister to stay. It hasn’t got quite as many signatures yet (currently 10, including Joy Wendy Endcomes and D N Disnigh) but I’m sure it will soon have thousands. You can sign that one at http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/support-the-PM/
And now I’m going to be serious and slightly sniffy. These petitions are a bit of political fun. In practice they are going to make no difference.
While it is interesting that the resignation petition has gained such traction, 22,000 people is still a long way short of the 15,000,000 who voted for the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties in the 2005 election. Labour, under Tony Blair, formed the government and no-one seriously claiming they lacked legitimacy or called for his resignation. And every day opinion polls shows a significant lead for the Conservatives suggesting that more people want another guy in Number 10.
Even when you have a popular Prime Minister the nature of politics means that there will still be millions who would not support them. You could argue on that basis that the relatively small number of petitioners shows there is general support for the PM.
So while I’m happy to participate and advertise the petition I also recognise that petitions, by their very nature, push a single issue. They do not require people to consider the alternatives or potential consequences and are often signed by people largely ignorant of the issues (the majority of people will willingly sign a petition calling for a ban on Dihydrogen Monoxide). Of course I think Britain would be better without Brown, and without a Labour government, but know that what does matter and will make a difference are votes at the ballot box.
(As a small codicile, one benefit of petitions is that they can raise awareness and make governments and councils consider an issue. If you are happy to sign the petition calling on Gordon Brown to go, or even calling on him to stay, then perhaps you could spare a moment to add a signature to some of these lesser known causes:
- Maternal Health – raised by Jessica’s Trust calling for monitoring of new mothers to help provide early warning of a potentially fatal condition.
- Bletchley Park – which calls on the Prime Minister to save Bletchley Park, home of Britain’s code-breaking which proved crucial in the Second World War.
- Photo restrict – which asks for a change in the law to remove the ludicrous restrictions on photography in public places.
I’m sure there are many more, feel free to advertise any causes in the comments of this post.)