E-petition to Welsh Freedom?
The update to Blair’s online ‘pester the government’ programme got underway amidst a fanfare of capital punishments and computer crashing. Yes, as soon as the general public got wind of the launch of the e-petitions page on the direct.gov website, the first subject to grip the national attention was the campaign to bring back capital punishment. Soon enough afterwards came the counter proposition, to maintain capital punishment. Needing only 100,000 signatures to be considered for a Parliamentary debate, one might hope that with such a sensitive subject area, enough voices might be heard to encourage a Parliamentary debate on the subject, though as many commentators have already observed, no matter how successful the e-petitions project proves to be, the actual time set aside for Parliamentary debate on anything coming out of this online endeavour, will be severely limited. Perhaps an e-petition should be started to ensure that e-petitions with a certain degree of support should, by law, be debated in the Commons…?
As exciting as all this talk of capital punishment might be, the one thing that immediately disappoints is that, so far, the Welsh Office page of the e-petitions remains eerily empty. Granted this is only day one of what we might hope will be a successful and long lived programme of public engagement, but one can’t help but be surprised that no one has had the confidence (or moment of rash action) to put forward something about Welsh independence, seems a given no? Perhaps it is simply the case that we have so much confidence in the Senedd, that we think we don’t need the Welsh Office anymore…perhaps.
Whatever the reason, it seems like there is a wonderful opportunity for a social experiment here, perhaps a test of the sense of national identity, and what real backing there might be in Wales for, oh, let’s say, independence? Only 100,000 signatures are, in theory, required to bring an e-petition to the floor of the House of Commons, so why not put forward the proposal. After all, we can surely find that many people in Wales willing to put their name to such a concept, no? As interesting, would be to so how committed any counter claims might be. We have seen above that the issue of capital punishment stimulated an immediate counter measure, would the now traditional ‘No’ camp in Wales make a similar move.
There is great potential generally here. How about a petition for the abolishment of the Welsh Office all together, control of Severn Bridge Tolls to come under the jurisdiction of Wales, or how about a move to control incomes generated from Welsh water supplies, currently taken by English users for free? There is a world of opportunity to bring some Welsh major issues (and ones that the Senedd will have little to no say on in the future) into the limelight, to potentially force them in front of the Commons, but also to provide some meaningful statistical evidence to show just how strongly our population thinks about some of these themes. There is an opportunity for the Welsh nationalists to seize here, one just wonders whether they have the guts to test how many signatures they would actually generate for any of the ideas above. I for one would be happy to, but I would be equally as fascinated to see how many other people in Wales would do the same?