Friday, December 02, 2011

DEMOCRACY LIVE @ Holyrood ? Scottish Parliament to re-launch e-Petitions website after major redesign hopes to improve Scots interaction with politics

Petitions CommitteeScottish Parliament’s e-petitions website was down for much of the year, awaits imminent re-launch. SCOTS eager to add their signatures or debate the many & varied subjects of Public Petitions submitted to the Scottish Parliament as E-PETITIONS, should again be able to exercise their right to add their contributions to Scotland’s political landscape with the expected re-launch of e-petitions at Holyrood sometime later this December, according to statements released by the Scottish Parliament’s media office. The re-launch of the e-petitions website comes after the well used facility to sign & discuss petitions had been taken offline for many months after it had experienced several widely reported failures, most notably in a petition for a debate on the Lockerbie Trial.

E-Petitions, for those who are not familiar with the term are the electronic online version of a public petition submitted by an individual, which has additional advantages of encouraging online discussion & debate among contributors as well as having the facility to add signatures to a cause anyone thinks worthy of support.

A statement on the Scottish Parliament’s e-petitions website which has lain dormant for a number of months since the Parliament re-launched it’s website during late summer states : A new system for submitting petitions online is currently being developed which we hope to launch shortly. In advance of the launch of this new system, the e-petition facility has been suspended therefore there will be no facility to host petitions online and gather e-signatures. The new system will feature a new e-petition site.

For those of you who want to use the Internet to petition the Parliament, e-Petitioner allows you to have your petition live on the Internet, rather than just on paper. This way, your petition and supporting information can be made available to a potentially much wider audience, giving you the opportunity to gather more names to support the petition.

A petition may gather signatures in both forms - you can have a paper version and an online version, although repeat signatures will be removed. Each e-Petition also has its own discussion forum, where visitors and signatories can discuss the petition and surrounding issues online. There is also space for supporting information, so that you can add any background necessary and put your petition in context.

Speaking to Diary of Injustice, a spokesperson for the Scottish Parliament commented on the expected e-petitions system re-launch. She said : “Petitions can still be lodged with a webpage on the Parliament’s site for each petition. The Scottish Parliament was the first Parliament to launch an e-petitions site and the 11 year-old system required updating to ensure it could continue to meet both high demand and users’ expectations.”

The spokesperson continued : “The new e-petitions site, where petitioners can gather signatures prior to the petition being lodged, is expected in December.”

Noting the success of some petitions at the Scottish Parliament which petitioners and observers have claimed were ‘helped along’ with the addition of short video clips of specific debates on specific petitions by the Petitions Committee which were posted online on social media outlets, and also here on Diary of Injustice with regards to the long running & heavily debated McKenzie Friend petition, consumer advocates & law reform campaigners have made it be known to Diary of Injustice that a facility on the Scottish Parliament’s e-petitions website to include short video clips of debates on petitions would be a great help to those wishing to participate in online discussions of petitions, rather than having to search through hours of video clips of entire Committee sessions already posted on the Scottish Parliament’s website.

If readers are not familiar with how video clips have helped along some petitions, examples of short clips of petition debates, particularly on the McKenzie Friend petition can be found on Injustice TV and in previous reports on the McKenzie Friend petition, covered by Diary of Injustice HERE where video coverage posted to You Tube and on Diary of Injustice helped bring in international submissions on the McKenzie Friend issue.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Parliament, responding to the idea of including video clips in a form similar to how the BBC DEMOCRACY LIVE website operates, said : “It has never been our intention to provide a service along the lines of Democracy Live. The Parliament has always made available video of all its meetings in public – and this will continue to be the case. The whole petitions system will be integrated now, and it will be easier to register, track, comment and interact with Petitions.”

Anyone who wishes to contact the Scottish Parliament’s Petitions team can do so via emailing the Petitions Committee here : petitions@scottish.parliament.uk where staff & clerks from the Petitions Committee can address individual questions and develop direct relationships with potential petitioners, providing appropriate support to them.

Margo MacDonald Petitions McKenzie FriendsVideo clips of debates including Margo MacDonald’s fantastic input on McKenzie Friends swung it for success, said observers, and one angry senior judge ! In my experience on petitions I have reported on, particularly the McKenzie Friend Petition which saw the Scottish Parliament’s shining gem, Margo MacDonald MSP give what can only be described as fantastic input into a petition to assist Party Litigants with lay assistance in Scottish Courts, helped along with a particular court judgement in a long running case, the short video clips of the discussions at Holyrood which accompanied reports of the McKenzie Friend petition’s progress on Diary of Injustice, gave an example of how the public, politicians and even members of the judiciary react to the distribution of & public comment on video clips of debates in the Scottish Parliament.

The inclusion of short video clips specific to petitions, along with written reports and a facility to debate or comment on the Committee’s proceedings gives a greater chance of success to the petition at hand and a greater chance of Scots to debate and understand how they see the issues of the petition progressing before their very own eyes. It would be such a simple yet effective addition to the e-petitions website for petitions to have video clips of their own specific debates posted alongside the actual petition.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Democracy live seems to be a democracy too much for the Scottish Parly!

Anonymous said...

So exactly how long does it take to make a website and why has it been down for half the year?

I think the Scottish Parliament have some questions to answer although dont expect any straight answers!

Anonymous said...

Far from demorcacy I believe the Scottish parliament's petitions system is nothing more than a fit-up to claim it brings public participation when all it does in reality is take ideas talk about them for months if not years and then shut all debate down on the issue when it suits them to do so.I have read of many people treated unfairly at the hands of the petitions committee almost to the point of abuse just because the issues they raised did not fit in with the narrow minded selfish interests of those who occupy the petition process for themselves and their friends in business or whatever.

Just how many examples can you give me of petitions actually succeeding into law via the petitions committee? Is it 1,5,10 out of how many which msps have dealt with over the years?I think the petitions system is one of the greatest cons of the Scottish parliament and people keep falling for it they can get an issue debated and some reform or law changed so whatever happens never happens again etc but it has never really happened has it there is just no proof the pubic petitions system does anything for anyone except those on the committee who are claiming expenses and all those who are writing reports for it at cost to the public.I think its a useless proposition and this new website will just be another rouse to control debate and make sure the real issues needing dealt with will never get through to help anyone.

Anonymous said...

Well said 2nd comment and Peter I urge you to look into this a little more even though I suspect you already know from your own experience the petitions committee is A COMPLETE SHAM

Anonymous said...

I'm not criticising what you wrote about this Peter but..as we see ANY petition against the legal profession or vested interests IMMEDIATELY FAILS AT THE SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT

You wrote about the petition http://petercherbi.blogspot.com/search/label/PetitionPE1388 to get rid of the Solicitors Scotland Act 1980 which gives the Law Society its power to do what it damn well pleases and that was closed just like any others trying to do something for victims of crooked lawyers and there was your own petition about the SLCC also closed and all the petitions about the SPSO also closed and they even had an msp supporting them!

This petitions farce in favour of criminal elements getting to block laws we need has got to stop!It is little more than a fraud!

Anonymous said...

No doubt they are waiting for Christmas to announce it so no one gives a fugg or misses it altogether

Peter Cherbi said...

# Anonymous @ 2 December 2011 22:25

I agree with your comment ...

As far as a figure of petitions which have actually been successful goes, the number must be under 10, and for the record the McKenzie Friend petition only scraped through because of the court case and the publicity which made the court system look even more antiquated than it usually looks ...

# Anonymous @ 2 December 2011 23:48

Yes indeed ... however I wrote the article to encourage debate on the Petitions system at the Scottish Parliament and what people actually think of it ...

# Anonymous @ 3 December 2011 11:41

Yes ... its true no Public Petition asking for any reform of the justice system in favour of consumers has ever been successful, and I include the McKenzie Friend petition in this regard as Party Litigants are still being treated with the utmost prejudice in Scotland's courts today ...

With regards to Petition PE1388 the usual strong arm tactics of the legal profession and msps too worried about upsetting the legal establishment saw it fail ... I'll say more on this in a future article because some of the internal discussions at Holyrood on that particular petition were to put it mildly, despicable ...

Anonymous said...

I tend to regard the petitions thing as another of the spin tools of politicians.The comments earlier are correct there are hardly any successful petitions out of well over a thousand posted.Makes you wonder why people have not got angry about it!

Anonymous said...

just to show you how clued up some even in the media are about this I told my editor about your story

He then asked what does the petitions committee do!

Anonymous said...

If you want to know what I think Peter the Scottish Parliament is the biggest waste of money ever and is giving a platform to the nutters who work inside it pretending to be something well above their station.I have never seen such a bunch of unprofessional idiots in my life as at Holyrood during a visit I once made there.The place is full of bile and two faced twits Scotland can well do without and plenty others I know hold the same opinion after having experienced the place for themselves!

Anonymous said...

Very interesting Peter.

I've been to watch several hearings of the Petitions Committee and from what I witnessed it seemed to me a lot of the petitions were not very well debated.I wonder what those people really think of the system after having gone to all that effort trying to get the parliament to look at their problems or whatever it was they felt needed changing.

I'd sum it up as very disappointing so I will keep an eye on the new website whenever it is re-launched and make a few comments if necessary.

Thanks for keeping us all in the picture!

Anonymous said...

How often I wonder are members of the public allowed to present their own petition or make a presentation to the Justice Committee on matters which concern them, I do not know of any occasions when this has been allowed.

Anonymous said...

Sadly there are not many like Margo in the Scottish Parliament.Only one actually - Margo!

Nice to see you give credit where credit is due.

Anonymous said...

Yes a good point the number of petitions that made it into law should be published and exactly what the original petitioner thought of it (like if it was their idea or it was tweaked & butchered by the msps before it ended up as a law or whatever)

I'm willing to bet this will cut down the numbers to single figures and its funny the parliament are not willing to talk about it much

Anonymous said...

This delay in opening the new website for petitions is starting to get a bit silly.Does the spokesperson mean December 2011 or December 2111?