5,000,000 Signatures: Few Policy Changes

Government Petitions

Parliament’s petition website is one year old today. The site, aimed at encouraging ordinary members of the British public to have a say in the workings of Parliament, has received 19,018 petitions since it’s inception. Of these 258 have reached the 10,000 signatures required to trigger a response from the government (1.36% ). Just 30 have reached the required 100,000 signatures or more to be debated in Parliament (after approval from the Petitions Committee, who blocked votes of no confidence in David Cameron and a debate to hold a 2016 General Election).

Of these 30, Guido Data can reveal that just four could be said arguably to have been followed by policies, of which only two can be said to have actually effected the government’s decision. Of these two are a petition to allow more refugees into the UK (this followed the shocking images of a drowned migrant child last summer, arguably receiving wider popular support), and another to hold a debate on a vote of no confidence in Jeremy Hunt – something the petition automatically achieved by gaining over 100,000 signatures. In other words, just 0.01% of all petitions lodged can actually be said to have affected the government’s policy. So much for direct democracy…




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Quote of the Day

The FT’s Wolfgang Munchau on the “fake maths” of economic forecasts:

“The truth is that our ability to forecast the future beyond the current quarter is limited… The curse of our time is fake maths. Think of it as fake news for numerically literate intellectuals: it is the abuse of statistics and economic models to peddle one’s own political prejudice… The fakeness of the maths lies in an exaggerated inference. Economic models have their uses, as do opinion polls. They provide information to policymakers and markets. But nobody can see through the fog of the future.”

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