Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Pancakes and petitions

After a very sociable evening eating far too many pancakes (lemon and maple syrup, but some also with fruit and homemade banana icecream, thank you very much), I find there's a petition on the Number 10 website to make the Monday after Remembrance Sunday into a public holiday.

I think this is all wrong, because a holiday (at best) celebrates rather than commemorates; we already have commemoration ceremonies on the Sunday and on the 11th November itself, and such is human nature that what would be commemorated is yet more DIY and shopping. The whole notion of a public holiday vitiates what - in this case - it's supposed to achieve.

If we need more public holidays, let's have them when people feel like celebrating: in the summer and around the last of the warm weather in the early autumn.

More to the point, if the facility to create petitions on the Number 10 website is to be taken seriously, it must allow people to register opposition to the specific proposition being put, rather than expecting people to create new (and possibly competing) petitions expressing another point of view.

They do say "It is not intended to be a form of quasi-referendum or unrepresentative opinion poll" - but then, what else is the point of enabling people to add their support to a petition, if not to show a level of support for the proposition? And how valuable is that without knowing the level of opposition to it?

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