Downing Street’s aim to be more open to the views of ordinary people certainly appears to be working – whether they actually take any notice, of course, is open to debate.
The e-petition service the Government launched just three months has received its 1,000,0000th signature (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6314117.stm).
This would appear to be democracy at work. The most popular e-petition so far has been on proposed new road use pricing, with a campaign to repeal the Hunting Act also generating support.
A total of 2,400 petitions have been posted so far, although some have been turned down for being “frivolous, inappropriate or in bad taste”.
The Prime Minister has long proved himself to be a good listener. But whether Tony Blair has ever proved himself capable of acting on what he’s hearing is something entirely different.
The figures were released on the same day as our Prime Minister gave an impassioned defence of his record and urged the electorate to form their own opinion of him and his Government and not be influenced by certain sections of the media. In an interview with the Today programme on BBC Radio 4, Mr Blair said he would not bow to media-generated pressure to quit in the on-going cash-for-honours inquiry.
Mr Blair has been interviewed twice by detectives in relation to the inquiry, while some of his closest aides and advisers have been arrested and questioned at length about the allegations.
The Prime Minister claims he still has a high level of public support and that the electorate should not believe the numerous accusations and suggestions currently “ricocheting around the media”.
He stated some of the coverage is simply “untrue” (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6323149.stm).
There is a hint of irony in the fact that the politician who has sought to manipulate the media from Opposition days right through his premiership – and done so successfully on many occasions – should now be telling us not to believe all we read or hear.
Whether some of the coverage is biased or not, there is no doubting the fact that this is yet another challenging period for the Prime Minister and one which could ultimately shape the glorious legacy he clearly covets (along with every other person in public office).
If he wants to be remembered as a great Prime Minister, maybe he should start acting on what he’s being told by the British public? After all, he has asked us to tell him about our priorities through initiatives such as e-petitions.
Here’s a good starting point Mr Blair – http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/ME-is-real/BKpxKXEMk62zBbT8oxAf6O6.