If you’ve signed a petition telling the PM to resign, chances are that you’re a fuckwit

30 April 2009

There’s a petition out to tell the PM to resign. If you’ve signed it, you’re in all probability a fucking idiot. This is why.

For starters, we already have a mechanism for kicking Prime Ministers out of power. They’re called elections. True, they only come along every 4-5 years, but then democracies can only function with some continuity in administration. If you don’t want to wait till next year to cast your vote, then fucking tough, and count your blessings you live in a country where the citizenry can vote leaders out of power.

Second, you’re missing the wood for the trees. Gordon Brown’s premiership has been nothing short of a disaster, but it’s been very much a team effort. It isn’t just the man at the top, it’s the whole bloody team around him. Darling, Mandelson, Smith, Blears, Geoff fucking Hoon. Not to mention the old guard of Blair, Clarke, Blunkett, etc. setting it all up. The whole lot of them are responsible for the miserable idea-starved philosophy of New Labour, with its craving for power, its thrall for made-up wealth and its authoritarian managerialism in every department.

Third, what comes next? If Brown resigns, then Harman or Miliband or possibly Straw or some other New Labour apparatchik takes his place. A PM resigning does not mean a change in the ruling party, or even an election, and you don’t have to go that far back in history (Wilson, Thatcher, Blair) for examples. If you’re not happy with the current government then you really should be making a case for what the next one should be bringing (and fuck knows, the current Opposition need every bit of help in that department).

Finally, you’re a fuckwit because you’re a petition-signing fuckwit. Petitions have some very good uses – raising awareness of a previously unknown issue, or for co-ordinating action for the disadvantaged and disparate, or to help lobby for changing unjust laws. But these don’t account for many of petitions on the Number 10 site. Many of them are just ways for the inarticulate and incoherent to vent frustration at something they dislike, and petitioning the Prime Minister to resign is the stellar example. It has no hope of changing anything. It advocates nothing positive whatsoever. All it is is another way of childishly wailing “I don’t like you” to someone who doesn’t give a fuck, just so you can congratulate yourself with the delusion that you are sticking it to The Man. Well done, you must be so proud. Fuckwit.

Footnote: That was a bit of a rant, and I’m not normally this grumpy so here’s something to cheer you up. Have a looksie at the rejected petitions, some of which are terrible and some pretty good, such as this one which Tom heartily recommended.


23 Responses

Elika

Couldn’t agree more. And, while I feel let down by Brown (not to mention the others), I still feel so frustrated with the ubiquitous: ‘we didn’t vote Brown in’. No, you’re quite right; you voted for a party, not a person. That party is still in government, albeit with a different leader. This is the UK, not the US. Twats.

17.51. Of course. My frustration always peaks at 17.51.

Excellent post. However, I am really glad I live in Scotland as there is no way I could ever vote for Thatcher’s party. In Scotland we have an alternative and I pity my fellow Englishmen who are in a political Sophie’s choice.

you voted for a party, not a person.

Or, to be more accurate, you voted for an individual (who affiliated themselves to a party) who you thus nominate to represent your interests in Parliament. That includes voting on matters such as acceptance of the Queen’s speech, votes of no confidence, etc, all of which have the conventional effect of forcing Prime Ministers and Governments out.

If people aren’t happy with this, the should probably be signing a petition in favour of introducing official recall or impeachment procedures into British law, rather than doing the equivalent of making wanker signs behind Gordon Brown’s back, tempting though that may be.

Charlie Whitaker

Well, no. First, a petition is a protest, and the right to (peaceful) protest is well recognised. If people want to make wanker signs anywhere in the vicinity of the prime minister, then good on them; after all, they have a right to do it. Similar arguments to yours – that is, protest is no substitute for proper, scheduled, democratic elections – were deployed with respect to Iraq.

Which leads me to my second point, which is that it’s possible for a politician to be objectionable in him or herself; we’re not obliged to confine our criticism to policies only. You may say that the Iraq protests were protests about Iraq – a policy – but it’s perfectly legitimate to protest against the incumbency of an individual politician. This might be because we think that the politician in question is corrupt, or at any rate is more likely than most to judge things badly and so we want them gone. In the case of Brown we’re talking about a ‘decider’, an executive leader, and so the quality of his judgement is a matter of concer.

Third, even inchoate protest is still protest, and hence – if peaceful – legitimate. We don’t have to have well formed substitute policies ready before we protest. In any case, as an ad hoc constituency of protestors, we’ll naturally find it slow to get going on policy. Do we want corrupt politicians to know they’ll have the benefit of the time it takes for an opposition to organise itself?

Fourth, he’s a shit prime minister who does not serve the national interest and he should go. Personally, I don’t think that any of his juniors would attempt to succeed him without calling an election. If the ‘resign’ petition helps to hasten an election, it’s a good petition and I’d encourage you to sign it. If it sends a signal to any potential successor of a different political stripe – a signal that protest is real – that might help too.

What I would accept is that online petitioning is a bit on the anemic side.

Charlie – I don’t set out to deny their right to petition Number 10 nor their right to free protest. The petition is yes legitimate, but that doesn’t mean I can’t criticise their sentiment or their motives for doing so.

As for politicians’ personalities being a valid factor in whether they should be in power, this is arguably less important in age where politicians are technocrats vying for their ability to manage public services, rather than competing on leadership or ideological superiority (Chris Dillow has discussed this). In any case, neither his personality nor his policies are critiqued in this petition either – no reasons are given, it is a pure dislike of the man and nothing more.

I’d also disagree the opposition to Brown is inchoate. He has been in power for nearly two years, the credit crunch & this government’s response for more than one. It is not as if a lot of people woke up on Monday and discovered that overnight they suddenly dislike him.

Finally I think you are being very, very wishful that Labour would call an election if Brown went. Governments tend to cling to power until the very last when they know defeat is on the cards – Labour in 1979, or the Conservatives in 1997. I’ve seen no sign that this cabal wants to give up the reins a day sooner than they can either.

Martin

Yes, it would have been best if the petition had never been started; but unfortunately the worst possible outcome will be if the petition gets very few votes. Gordon and his hench-worms in the Cabinet would see that as a victory against his opposition and an implicit vote of endorsement from the public.

There were 1.7 million people who signed the petition against road pricing. If the petition against Gordon can’t even get close to those levels the government will simply assume that the electorate aren’t that bothered and that everything they are doing is on the right lines.

No, the petition can’t and won’t succeed in ousting Gordon, but a couple of million votes would certainly cause him some embarrassment and surely that in itself is a noble cause? :-)

Martin – I would not regard signing a petition as a ‘vote’ – voting requires an option for alternatives, which would mean there would have to be an option for people to sign against the motion at hand. Petitions are distinct from elections or referendums (as the Downing Street FAQ states) in this respect.

As for whether New Labour think they are currently endorsed by the public, that is very much not the case – they’re not blind to how low they are in the opinion polls and there’s already rumblings on how much of a hiding they’re going to get in next month’s Euro elections. That’s going to be the real embarrassment for them, rather than a petition.

paul

You have missed the point,the fact that this petition is being hosted by Number 10.

Obviously Gordon Brown is not going to resign as a result of this petition but it’s existence is embarrassing for him.

Martin

Sorry – I didn’t mean to imply voting in the electoral sense. I should have used the word “signatures” instead of “votes” in the last paragraph there – that would have made more sense and was what I was really trying to say!

Yes, the Euro elections are going to be embarrassing for them. I’m looking forward to that. But I don’t think it will hurt to see him further embarrassed by a petition on his own web site.

I still think that a low number of signatures would be seen as some sort of victory by Gordon and that should be discouraged. Signing the petition simply reduces that possibility.

Chris – this is an entertaining post. But I’ve got to say don’t agree with you.

First off, I do agree with most of your second paragraph. And I think you are right that an online petition calling on Brown to resign is not likely to be at all effective. This petition is particularly weak because it doesn’t give any specified reasons for Brown to resign – and there are many. The general nature of the thing means that signatories may find themselves in an online alliance with other people whose policies they might hate – possibly more than they hate Brown. That seems to me to be the biggest problem with this petition.

But your post makes you seem more angry with the petition protestors than with Brown and the government. That seems to me to be the wrong way round. I would support people’s right to protest against Brown, even if I don’t think their tactic is very effective. Why attack people for feeling inarticulate and powerless? It’s not like elections have brought any significant change from the general Thatcher-Blair consensus recently… And sometimes people want to vent a bit of inarticulate rage at the prime minister – he is a symbol of power in a situation where people are feeling angry and often powerless in the face of the recession (and war, attacks on civil liberties etc etc). I think that anger is fair enough. And so is making some sort of protest.

How fuckwitted is it to sign a not-brilliant petition anyway – compared with, say, crashing a major high street bank or tipping more troops into a disastrous imperial adventure in Afghanistan?

Of course you’ve every right to criticise the petition. But you’ve attacked the protesters – presumably ordinary people who are deeply pissed off and have every right to be – more than the government.

I think you’ve picked the wrong target.

Bollocks – I can’t count.

I mean I agree with most of your third paragraph. The one where you say: “Gordon Brown?s premiership has been nothing short of a disaster, but it?s been very much a team effort.”

I don’t think elections change very much at all, much as I appreciate that people have fought and in many places are still fighting for the right to vote.

Martin

By the way, which is more childish; ‘wailing ?I don?t like you? to someone who doesn?t give a fuck’ or resorting to name-calling like ‘fuckwit’ in order to make a point?

Isn’t that more than a little hypocritical?

Red – I am not more angry with the petitioners than this government, but there are far better people than me at enunciating its faults, and there is hardly a shortage of coverage of anti-Brown rhetoric out there. It was intended to highlight one unchallenged aspect of a desperately flawed debate, rather than a balanced view of everything that’s wrong in the world.

Martin – My argument’s still valid regardless of whether I use profanity or not, and I’m able to back my name-calling up with coherent reasoning, instead of merely clicking along with the herd. Whether my behaviour’s “hypocritical” or not – couldn’t care less, to be honest – I’m more concerned with my reasoning.

@10: “crashing a major high street bank”, err, Brown did the opposite of that.

@12,13: anyone who thinks there’s anything wrong with using profanity to increase the impact of one’s coherent reasoned argument is a cunt.

A fuckwit is not someone who rants at their government by signing a petition. It’s useless but it’s not contemptible. More preposterous is the idea that elections do anything other than swap between Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

It’s hardly revolutionary to pick red instead of blue or vice versa. What’s that saying: no matter who wins, the government always gets in? Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. And so on. No offence meant to Chris who suggested this as a credible alternative, but… please. Nope.

If people want to express their impotent rage, a web petition is as good a way as any. It’s not like they’ll resign because we ask nicely, but a reminder that we aren’t all obedient sheep is no bad thing. Sort of “We’re not taken in by any of this, you hubristic tossers”. Especially as it’s on the No. 10 website. Yeah, it’s the political equivalent of happy slapping, but voting is just about as pointless. And we’re not getting a violent revolution any time soon, I don’t suppose. Not while Britain’s Got Talent and all that.

I apologise for the slight Yoda sentence structure in the first para. Sorry am I. (etc)

@ john b 14
I was thinking of the general fuckwittery going on. Subprime mortgages, weird derivatives… hugely leveraged betting games by the likes of Fred Goodwin, basically.

But bailing out a bank’s debts with billions of pounds of public money, while not seizing the profitable bits or putting a complete bar on mortgage repossessions looks a bit fuckwitted too. If anyone sees Northern Rock’s assets bobbing about offshore, perhaps they will let the Treasury know…

I joined a Facebook group. Does that make me a fuckwit? :P

Depends – was it for a fuckwitted campaign? :)

@16, I see your point, although as far as I can see the preference shares ensure the government does get first dibs on any money the banks manage to make (and it did get NR’s whole business, not just the liabilities).

Also don’t see why gov’t should put a stop on repossessions – yeah I don’t want my tax ? to go to snout-troughing bankers, but nor do I want them to go to greedy buggers who bought houses they couldn’t afford while I lived in rented flatshares precisely cos I couldn’t afford a house…

NIk

Don’t you call me a fuckwit, dickwad.

I signed the petition, being of sound mind and reasoned judgement.

I live in a very safe tory seat. No matter which way I vote at the next general election (whenever that is), I have no chance of influencing the governing party or the Queen’s choice of Prime Minister.

I have tried writing to my MP to express my disappointment in the current imcumbent’s performance, and guess what – my MP agreed, but is powerless to effect change given our current constitutional arrangements.

Short of direct action (like standing on Whitehall with a placard, if that’s still allowed these days), the only legitimate means of protest left is a direct petition to the office of the Prime Minister itself. And guess what, that’s just what the E-Petitions site is there for!

Now please mind your language in future.

I have tried writing to my MP to express my disappointment in the current imcumbent?s performance, and guess what – my MP agreed, but is powerless to effect change given our current constitutional arrangements.

I’d love to know exactly what constitutional arrangements you’d prefer, in which every time you don’t like something, you can just drop your MP a line and stuff quickly gets changed to your satisfaction. It sounds like a fantastic system, perhaps you’d like to share it with us?

I assume, at the very least, that you’re a fully signed-up member of the Electoral Reform Society, given your apparent frustration with the current system of representation. I assume you’ve also written to your MP advocating that the Tory party change its policies and support such an alteration the electoral system.

In addition, I’m pretty sure you’ll have identified the specific policy issues on which you disagree with the Brown administration, and joined up with the multitude of interest groups and campaigning organisations that represent the issues you’re concerned about (you’re a little vague on what they are, so forgive me if I don;t offer any suggestions there.) You’ll probably be involved in organising around these matters on a local level, educating people in your community about the issues and helping build a grassroots support base that can increase awareness of these factors among the general populace and leverage that concern – both in your constituency and on a wider scale – when the next election comes. I’m assuming that you were glossing over all these things when you said there was no other avenues of dissent open to you, because it’s just so obvious that you do them, concerned citizen that you are. Hell, there’s almost certainly petitions on the Number 10 E-Petitions site that represent those points of view, so I’m sure you’ve signed them as well. Given that, as you say, that’s what it’s there for.

Oh, and by the way, standing outside Whitehall with a placard isn’t direct action, it’s just a demonstration. But of course you knew that already, and just mistyped in haste, because you’re not a fuckwit.

Depends – was it for a fuckwitted campaign?

Next week: the Fuckwittedcampaignomatic? ;-)

Most fuckwitted, useless post and comment[1] thread e-ver!

[1] Including this one.