Tony Blair accepts ‘first’ email petition

PM leads from front and leaves workload behind

Updated Tony Blair is to accept the 'first ever' fully electronic petition. Number 10 Downing St will accept 2,000 emails from concerned stockbrokers calling for stamp duty to be removed from stock and share purchasing - currently a tax of 0.5 per cent on every transaction.

Well, that's the line anyway. Soon after we posted this story, a fair few readers wrote to us to explain that the PCG (IR35 crusaders) were in fact the first to deliver an e-petition to Downing St.

Presumably, seeing as the government is still fighting to keep the IR35 tax laws, it wasn't the kind of story that the government wishes to push just before an election. It is also a pretty good indication that the stakeholders make get their wish.

The petition is a very traditional form of protest in the UK, summed up in the cliched shot of someone handing over of loads of bits of paper to some anonymous person outside number 10 - they're never invited in for a cuppa. But big Tony - leader of the e-revolution - has decided to take the lead and accept email as a legitimate form of petition.

We applaud him for this, although we reckon he doesn't know what he's getting himself into. Each of the 2,000 emails will have to be replied to, to inform the sender it has been received. Not too harsh - knock up a standard reply. But unless Downing St wants to go the automated response way, this could get very messy.

If, for example, The Reg asks you what you think about a controversial topic, we would normally get around 500 emails in two, three days. Now that's a quarter of this first e-petition. Imagine what would happen if email petitioning took off. Downing St would be swamped. And then the petition will have even less affect than it does today.

But then that's the online world: swamped by mediocrity. Mind you, there's a PR opportunity here. Send larger and larger petitions to Downing St. "The largest ever petition was sent to Tony Blair today, electronically. Over 700,000 people sent a one-line message to the Prime Minister..." ®

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