Take Back Your Power

In yesterday’s blog post, I included a link to a petition to help save Glenfield Children’s Heart Unit. Over the course of the day, over 100 people signed it.

That’s brilliant. Really. If you’ve signed it already, I’m so grateful. I know everyone has compassion fatigue, petition fatigue and common or garden fatigue at the world at the moment. Taking a minute to sign something for me, when there are thousands of other things to do and think about is tremendous.

But the sad fact is that 100 more signatures isn’t enough. I need, at the last count 65,000 signatures.

Before I go into why you should sign if you haven’t already, let me tell you that I generally loathe petitions. I sign them in flurries, when I’m feeling disempowered and feel the need to do something. I have very little faith that they will do anything. It’s a bit like hurling snowballs into hell. Bear in mind that I speak as a campaigner here.

So if I’m telling you this one is important. It’s important.

Firstly, a petition has to be worded properly. It has to have a call to action. It has to insist that something be done, and say what that something is. This petition does that.

Secondly, a petition has to be backed by people who are willing to do what is necessary to support what’s going on around the petition and make the change. It has that.

There is another reason why I’m backing this. A really important reason that’s making me very angry.

Since this campaign started, thousands of local people have rallied around this cause. You might think that there are only 35,000 signatures. There aren’t. There are over 60,000. There are over 30,000 paper signatures out there, gained in hospitals, on wards, on marches, on demonstrations, by people standing in the cold in city centres with clipboards, by people whose families have been devastated by illness.

It now transpires that the government will not accept a mixture of paper and online signatures. Not only that, but they are limiting the amount of data we can move from paper to the online petition, so that one pc user can only log ten paper signatures. They discard the rest.  We can have either, or. If we go for paper signatures, we need an MP to back the petition and introduce it in parliament as well.

Either way, we stand to lose over half the signatures we already have. It’s easier for us to get online signatures, so what it means is that 30,000 local people are now going to be disenfranchised.  They thought they were taking part in democracy and now their signatures will end up counting for nothing. All those hours, all those volunteers, making a difference, for this.

And if we ask them to sign again online? How many of them will?

Instead of being 25,000 signatures away from our goal, we now have less than half of what we need, and many people are tired of the campaign and how much press it’s getting. They want to move on. It’s yesterday’s news.

This is how government wins. This is how they shut down libraries and hospitals. They give the illusion of democracy, and then they take so long to do anything and mire people in so much red tape that people get bored and tired and disenchanted and drift away and say ‘what’s the point?’

I hate it when people tell me I can’t do something. I can do anything, and so can you. If you believe you can’t, you’ve let them win, and I have no intention of letting Jeremy Hunt say he’s beaten me. I do not give in. I do not submit, and nor, I hope, do you.

Hundreds of you messaged me in the days after the referendum, asking me what you could do, what difference could you make?

This is what you can do. You can take one, whole minute of your day to sign my petition. You can take five minutes of your day to cajole someone else to sign. You can forward the petition or this post. You can actively engage in the democratic process.

This petition is not the answer, but it’s a crack of light in a door that is currently shut, and I have a crow bar. You can’t change it all on your own, but you can work with me to allow change to start to happen.

What’s the point of saving the UK if when we’ve saved it there’s nothing in it left to care about?

Sixty five thousand signatures is nothing in the grand scheme of things. Yet it means so much. You have power. Please use it.


26 responses to “Take Back Your Power

  1. Dear Katy, can we help by doing ten people each? 100 of us yesterday would be a thousand added? I know it’s bugger all in the scheme of things but better than nothing. I have posted both your blogs and the petition on my timeline and will hassle my sister to sign and share when she gets back. I know this probably means there is something fundamentally wrong with me but I prefer posts about campaigns to cake! Lol….

    • That would be amazing. I am talking to the organisers to see what we can do. I think it’s brilliant. My only concern is that we might be infringing data protection, so I’m going to do the research, but it would be fantastic. Thank you. xx

  2. You can send me 9 more names, if that is possible.

  3. Change.org, Avaaz and Sum of Us all make a point of giving regular updates to demonstrate that signing petitions can make a difference. It’s easy to be discouraged but, as you say, it takes so little time and you have nothing to lose and everything to gain if it influences the decision makers.
    We live in a marketing culture and whether they are selling political parties/ideologies or burgers, they need to measure public opinion and influence approval ratings. If they suspect that the thousands of signatures represent wider public concerns they will take notice.
    A fourteen year old school girl has persuaded all the major supermarkets to commit to phasing out the sale of non free range eggs by 2020. Initially she petitioned Tesco, and on the strength of about half a million signatures, they agreed. Knowing them as we do it is hardly likely this was prompted by compassion or conscience, she represented a great PR opportunity and they will have commissioned research to assess the wider public’s feelings on the matter. Once they made the decision it was inevitable that the others would follow suit.

    If you discover it is possible for us to add ten signatures each, I will happily do so.
    It is vital that you reach your goal because this isn’t just about one hospital (important as that is) but the future of our NHS and whether we allow it to be eroded to the point where they can turn around and say ‘it’s too broken, let’s bin it’.

    • Thank you. That would be hugely appreciated. You are right. Public opinion is massively influential where other things fail. PR is a fierce machine. And you are also right about this being not just about our hospital. It plays out in so many ways. It sets a precedent for further closures for a start. Also its closure means that other beds in other hospitals will have to take the strain because people aren’t getting any less ill.

  4. I was going to sign the petition yesterday but didn’t because I’m not a UK citizen, or even resident (any more), and the page said I couldn’t. I don’t know if anyone would find out, but supposing they did, would that lead to problems? Anyway, I wish you the best of luck.

    • It’s the parliament website so they will check you against their electoral register. They simply won’t allow your vote to register if you’re not a UK citizen or on the electoral role. Sorry. But thank you so much for trying. x

  5. Have tried three times to sign this, but didn’t get an e-mail – am I being thick?

  6. Signed and shared on Facebook & Twitter.

  7. I signed and shared yesterday, and have shared and coerced today. If it’s possible for me to add 9 more names, let me know. I’ll get the hubby in on it as well.

  8. Found it in my junk mail, thank you !

  9. Have just signed – the link went to my junk mail, so maybe that’s what happened to Ailsa. X

  10. Do you want me manually to add any names to the online petition? Or is that too difficult?

  11. Had a hectic week and only just catching up on your blog. I like evidence and rational argument more than a tug at the heart strings, and personally I tend to lean towards concentration of expertise over localism. I live halfway between a local hospital constantly fighting to stay open and an excellent city teaching hospital – judge me but I always turn left even though the city traffic means it’ll take longer than turning right. I know it’s inconvenient to travel to Birmingham but it’s more inconvenient to have children dying because the complex cases are not concentrated in the hands of the very best surgeons – I’m remembering the 1990s scandal at Bristol Royal Infirmary. That said, it seems that your hospital is pretty close to achieving the new clinical standards and the docs are only a few operations short so hardly a gang of novices – which seems to be the reason/excuse (depending on your pov) for the threat of closure. So it doesn’t seem unreasonable to ask them to look again, again and give your hospital trust a bit more time to line up its ducks.

    To be honest though, what swung it for me in one minute was your revelation about not being able to have a mix of online and paper signatures and the different petition rules for each. Petty bureaucratic obstacles make my blood boil and for that reason if no other I have signed and will encourage others to do so too. At least your hospital’s future should depend on the merits of the arguments not on some procedural bullshit. Good luck Katy.

  12. I have added my name to the list.

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