Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Cash for honours and e-mocracy

Some person/persons within the Labour Party is guilty of handing out peerages in return for much needed dosh...hmm...Who might it be....?

The cash for honours inquiry, Operation Ribble to the fuzz, has been going on for over a year now and so far, nobody's been banged up. Mm, I may be just a little disappointed. Anyway, those pesky journalists over at the Press Association have discovered that Operation Ribble (why do I find that name funny?) is set to cost the taxpayer £1 million smackeroonies...That's quite a bit of money going to the boys in blue to find out whether our trusted leaders really are blase, downright corrupt liars.

Popular opinion has already condemned the party as a whole, well, when I say condemned, nobody's particularly happy to think of such underhand dealings down Whitehall way but, eh, what can you do?

David Blunkett has condemned the Yard's working practices as "theatrical" and close ministerial aides, according to the Torygraph, have suggested the police are leaking their findings...And after a year the public and media don't really have a lot to go on - is this because the Yard are dragging their feet or because the political machinery of Whitehall and party sponsorship is so slippery? Nobody knows...

Investigations continue.

Oh and Davie Dave has been championing the democratic value of e-petitions, with some help from Ken Clarke. The two believe that online petitions should be sincerely pursued in parliament. Yep, that's what the rest of us apathetic, 'floating voter' lot would like to believe. That we can show our support or dislike for serious issues and have the powers that be listen to us.

Downing Street launched an e-petitions area on its website at the end of last year. To what end? In February a massively popular petition against road taxation was ignored. I went to a Hansard debate just after the government set out their response and was horrified to hear e-mocracy joked about by politicians and statisticians. In this day and age when political parties are dramatically failing to convince the public of their worth but the digital age reigns supreme, what's so funny about the idea of virtual voting?

Then I remember the thousands of protesters who have marched through London and elsewhere in the past few years. Demonstrators have braved the fickle British weather to condemn all sorts of government policies, including the management of public services and the decision to go to war. Oh right, I get it - if activists couldn't provoke a change in person, why should online opinion make any difference....

To illustrate a point, the link to the petitions on 10 Downing Street's website has the tag, "Be heard". One of the recently added petitions that greets you on the page is the appeal for webmasters to "Take notice of petitions already on this site".

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