Saturday, 24 November 2012
Errol Denton's Pretend Petitions
Fearless anti-racism campaigner Errol Denton has been hard at work this past week promoting his new pressure group CARBS (Campaign Against Racist Bloggers).
The group's launch hasn't exactly been a roaring success. Thousands of people were invited to 'like' a Facebook campaign page but, as of today, only a smattering of them have expressed their support.
As reported in an earlier post, Errol's attempts to attract signatures to a mass petition have also faltered. His early efforts, posted on a popular petition website, were repeatedly removed by the site's administrators (presumably for breaking their Terms and Conditions).
A neat solution to this little problem would, of course, be to start your own petitions website.
Step forward www.thepetition.co.uk !
UPDATE, 28 Nov: Shortly after this article was published, Errol's petition site was taken down.
The site - which was created on the 14th November, remarkably on the same day that yet another of Errol's petitions had vanished in a puff of smoke - is nothing if not ambitious.
"thepetition.co.uk aims to be the UK’s most respected and influential online petition website... At thepetition.co.uk we harness the power of the internet in a bid to transform society and place this power in the hands of the masses... This public forum is privately sponsored and we reserve the right to refuse submissions. Petitions do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of thepetition.co.uk or our sponsors..."
Like Errol's abortive Facebook campaign, the site has been slow out of the blocks. There are twelve petitions, most of them struggling to attract support:
Nationalise the energy section in Scotland after independence (2 signatures)
Return VAT on Air Ambulance fuel payments (3 signatures)
Give funds for Microarray testing in Wales (2 signatures)
Save the UK Film Council (2 signatures)
Unreasonable increases in Utility prices (2 signatures)
Stop betting shops taking over our high streets (4 signatures)
Support pensions for pre-1975 veterans (2 signatures)
Protection of the Cliffe historic and Archaeological landscape (2 signatures)
Save Our Welsh Cats & Dogs from Death on the Roads (2 signatures)
We are against Westminster City Council’s new parking regulations (2 signatures)
Upgrade the UK Party Political System to a Modular Democracy (2 signatures)
It's interesting to note that, just six hours ago, these eleven petitions had attracted only 6 signatures in the space of 10 days.
This profound lack of interest among the general public was discussed on Twitter earlier this morning and - hey presto! - the number suddenly swelled to 25 signatures in just five hours.
A suspicious reader might wonder whether some of these petitions were fake, created solely to lend credibility to Errol's own petition (which has attracted 58 signatures).
And they'd be right!
The Westminster Parking Regulations petition has been copied word-for-word from a different petition hosted on a different site.
Nothing suspicious about that - campaign groups routinely cross-post their petitions across many different sites - until you notice that the original petition was closed after its real authors received some happy news.
"Thank you to everyone who signed this petition, I am sure you are all aware that we were victorious in our campaign and the new parking regulations have been rescinded by Westminster City Council."
It's also noticeable that the parking regulations were due to be introduced in 2011 - in other words, the petition was closed at least 12 months ago!
It would seem reasonable to assume, until we hear otherwise, that www.thepetition.co.uk exists solely to promote Errol Denton's bizarre fixation with his critics, and that many of the "petitions" hosted on the site are not genuine.