Death haunts government petitions site

Bring me the head of the sysadmin

The Coalition government's epetitions site has limped online this lunchtime but is struggling to stay up.

The site was down this morning, despite a message promising its imminent availability. A spinner at Ten Downing Street promised to get back to us.

In the mean time, a bit of repeated clicking reveals over 40 petitions in favour of the death penalty – but only two have more than one vote each and even they can only claim four supporters.

This is likely to change once the site is fixed, and Daily Mail readers get involved.

The paper's front page this morning predicted restoring the death penalty would be the first issue debated by Parliament – the Coalition has promised to debate any issue which secures more than 100,000 votes.

Guido Fawkes, and other bloggers, have been pre-collecting support on the issue. Why a libertarian, small government blogger supports the right of the government to kill people is beyond the scope of this piece.

There is no doubt that Parliament exists to represent the British public.

But government by Wiki will be difficult if the bar is set so low.

It would be a weak argument that could not find 100,000 people online willing to click a link and tick box on a website in its support.

Parliament will need to set aside a lot of time to debate every petition in favour of bringing back Roobarb and Custard along with slightly weightier matters such as leaving the European Union or investigating Prince Phillip's role in the 9/11 attacks.

But before getting too excited at the thought of restoring public executions to Oxford Street, we should probably remember Clegg's previous loon-magnet sites yourfreedom.gov.uk and the Treasury's Spending Review site.

Both collected thousands of responses, many about Raoul Moat, and both were widely ignored by Whitehall before being shut.

The site is here, but don't all go there at once.

A Direct Gov spokesman said:“We apologise for any inconvenience experienced as people try to access ePetitions – this is a result of greater then expected demand.

“We are getting 1000 unique visits a minute – this is equivalent to nearly 1.5 million visits a day and is far more then the old ePetitions site on Number 10 ever received.

”The main Directgov site is unaffected and running normally.”

We've asked why this happens every, single time the government launches a website and why they can't use load balancing. We'll update the story should they reply. ®

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