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.