A quick response to some of the comment that has appeared in the media and online.
Its only got 2.3 million signatures – 17.4 million voted Leave
It is a petition, not a referendum. Comparing it with the Referendum is comparing apples and oranges. As a petitionit is quite extraordinary.
Over 2 million signatures in 24 hours is unprecedented for a Petition and clearly represents something? But what?
So what does it mean?
Even if it’s only a surge of activity amongst a (minority?) of Remainers it matters, for a variety of reasons?
It clearly shows the increasing power of social media – it was largely ignored by traditional media until it was over a million – it was amplified via Twitter and other platforms.
If (big IF) there was another Referendum then what the Petition (and the marches, weekly stalls all over the country, success of @TheNewEuropean etc) suggest the Remain side would have a huge army of ground troops. Something that was missing in the 2016 Referendum?
And of course it will be a massive morale boost to Remainers of all stripes.
There is no corresponding mobilisation on the Leave side. The pitiful size of the Farage March, the few dozen ‘yellow vests’, the empty threats about road blockades – all suggest there is no ‘equal and opposite’ movement?
This could be very important in the future.
It’s all just Russian bots foreigners and people signing multiple times
No, it isn’t.
A House of Commons spokesperson told me:
“We ask petitioners to confirm their details, including name, email address, and postcode. The Government Digital Service (GDS) investigates signature patterns to check for fraudulent activity on petitions. Any signatures which match more than one of the criteria indicating fraud are removed. Much like the traditional paper petitioning system which asks people to provide an address and signature, the e-petitions system aims to strike a balance between allowing people to easily register their support for issues which are important to them, whilst discouraging dishonesty.
They continued “GDS use a number of techniques, including automated and manual, to identify, block or remove signatures that are clearly bots. We are unable to comment further on our security checks.”
And finally they added “Anyone who is a UK resident or a British citizen can sign a petition. This includes British citizens living overseas.”
Parliament and MPs will just ignore it anyway?
Parliament can’t – there will have to be a debate on it (anything over 100,000 gets a debate). But that may well be too late to effect anything.
MPs will notice. The Petition allows them to see what the response is in their areas. They know that this level of activity about anythingis significant, and some are in marginal seats.
So overall the Petition is important. Indeed it’s pretty unique in UK politics. But then what isn’t at the moment?