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August 2012

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Friday, 27 November 2009

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Nick

I wonder if I share an MP with Martin? I know a number of people who have written to him on a different topic; his response has been to pick a couple of keywords from their letter and reply with a central office press statement (without even bothering to head and tail it) that doesn't answer any of the questions they were explicitly asking.

Dave Winter


My Letter to my MP as well as signing the petition.Those that make most noise........

Dear Kelvin Hopkins,
A bill is to be debated on November 30th regarding funding of the British Waterways and would respectably ask if you would sign the Inland Waterways and Funding Bill EDM 233.
If funding is reduced to this valuable resource for nature and conservation then a whole swathe of canals and water systems will fall into disrepair which would take years and millions of pounds to repair.
Hundreds of volunteers already contribute time and energy to keep the canals in good condition and would be a shame to see this go to waste.
Thankyou in anticipation of your support.
Yours sincerely,
Mr David Winter

Will Chapman

I forgot to add that when writing to your MP please also ask them to support EDM 233 and attend the End of Day adjournment on November 30th which I understand will be covered live on BBC TV's Parliament channel.

Will Chapman

On the surface, an understandable point of view Andrew but there are I think two arguments in favour of signing that you haven't considered.

First: If those that support the aims of the petition don't sign, Govt will assume no-one cares.

Second: Whilst I agree that 'real' petitions are preferable if only because the petitioners can engage with the public face to face, the e-petition has the huge benefit of being able to to grasp the attention of potential supporters very quickly and, in my opinion, it would be foolish not to use that powerful tool. When I first heard of the e-petition I first signed it (I think amongst the first couple of hundred signatures) and then I joined in the 'campaign' to spread the word. I spent a couple of hours mailing all known SOW members/supporters, appealing through Facebook and Tweet, etc. Meanwhile other user groups were doing the same. Result, by the end of the day there were over 3,000 signatures and as I write more than 10,000. As a result, there is no doubt that media and government are aware. It would take an extraordinary amount of effort to achieve the same result with a 'real' petition.

Arguing that e-petitions are worthless because they lack the personal touch is like damning blogs because they lack the personal touch of a hand written letter. ;>)

May I respond to some of the comments from your readers?

Allan asks : whether BW has been told the sale is a fait accompli? I think not. The board and directors certainly didn't appear to know at the BWAF meeting that was taking place when the story broke and there are indications that even DEFRA is 'campaigning' against the proposal.

Martin makes the very important point that the next step in this campaign is to ask everyone to write to their MP to express that they are against the sale and could Mr/Mrs/Ms/Miss MP please ask the Treasury whether it is true they are considering this policy. Doing this will set up a chain - your MP HAS to write to the Treasury, and reply to you. The Treasury then HAS to reply to the MP and then the MP has to reply again to you.

It is so easy to do this. Just go to http://www.writetothem.com/, fill in your postcode and you can then email without any more effort than making the above point and, don't forget, ask that the Treasury be queried.

This technique was used to great effect during the SOW protests of 2006/7 - DEFRA, which normally has 2-3 people working on the waterways, had to create a special cell of people just to answer MP letters.

Captain Ahab

I know what you mean Andrew, and I very rarely sign up to these on line petitions for the very reasons you describe. However, the problem is that this 'quick click' populist 'I'm a celebrity MP, get me back into office' voting concept has become a powerful pressure weapon. Whilst I dislike the leverage an easily collected packet 'votes' can have, we have to accept that an absence of protest is now seen as public acquiesence / assent to whatever is proposed.
I fear that to attempt to vote against on line voting by not voting has more than a touch of Ludditeness about it!

Allan

Has anyone considered that government may have already told BW that its portfolio is being taken away because it is not using it to maintain the waterways?

Has anyone considered that government may have already told BW that they have failed to follow the direction given in the OEP report with regard to future funding and transparency of the portfolio?

In government terms, BW's property portfolio is minute. We have to ask ourselves why BW told us the portfolio was not under threat but are now running round like headless chickens.

Martin Clark

Signing such a petition on its own won't do much. It's got to be part of something wider and it is an easy way to attract attention and generate interest. Over 10,000 have signed in just a few days so it will start to get media interest.

Yes, write your MP. Ask them to sign EDM 233 on "Inland Waterways and Funding". (Text of motion here.) Encourage your MP to attend the adjournment debate on "Funding for British Waterways" on 30th November.

iain smith

I have not voted in an election since blair was elected as leader of the new laborer party being an old fashioned socialist. Petitions are the only true democracy elections are a confidence trick on the public.Proportional representation may encourage me to vote again.

Martin

Unless Of course, if you are as I am with a local MP (who isn't local) who squats contentedly on his huge majority knowing that this constituency has a returned a member from the same party throughout the 21st. and 20th. centuries, don't bother. He doesn't give a toss.

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