Checking Peter Roberts’ petition to scrap plans to introduce road pricing this morning I find that it has just passed the 1.5 million mark. At 8:18 this morning it stood at 1,501,634.
The petition has been propelled by extensive coverage across radio, newspapers and blogs. There are some people that try to write off 1.5 million people going through a pretty long process as a few people clicking on a website. For instance, Peter Riddell in the Times on Tuesday:
It is obviously significant that more than 1.5 million people marched against the Iraq war four years ago and almost 1.2 million have signed the petition against the planned vehicle tracking and road-pricing policy. It shows that a large number of people care and, in the case of the petition, how effective the motoring lobby is.
The numbers reflect particular interests. By definition, they cannot represent the broader public interest. These protests are populist, not democratic: only some people are being heard. Government and Parliament exist to reconcile divergent interests. When the Government rejects them, however, it appears to be ignoring the popular will; witness the alliance of The Mail on Sunday proclaiming “How many people have to sign a petition before this Government takes notice?” and Henry Porter in The Observer giving warning of “road rage like never before” if the Government snubs the petition.
Perhaps Riddell should have a look at another petition on the Number 10 e-petitions site. It read “Don’t Scrap the planned vehicle tracking and road pricing policy” and has garnered 1,835 signatures. Perhaps Riddell should work out which bit of no he doesn’t understand.
Peter Roberts’ petition to scrap plans to introduce road pricing reads as follows:
We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Scrap the planned vehicle tracking and road pricing policy.
Get clicking and signing if you want to avoid paying another tax and having your movements traced by the state.