DEMOCRACY LIVE @ Holyrood ? Scottish Parliament to re-launch e-Petitions website after major redesign hopes to improve Scots interaction with politics

02 Dec

Petitions CommitteeScottish Parliament’s e-petitions website was down for much of the year, awaits ‘imminent’ re-launch. SCOTS eager to add their signatures or debate the many & varied subjects of Public Petitions submitted to the Scottish Parliament as E-PETITIONS, should again be able to exercise their right to add their contributions to Scotland’s political landscape  with the expected re-launch of e-petitions at Holyrood sometime later this December, according to statements released by the Scottish Parliament’s media office. The re-launch of the e-petitions website comes after the well used facility to sign & discuss petitions had been taken offline for many months after it had experienced several widely reported failures, most notably in a petition for a debate on the Lockerbie Trial.

E-Petitions, for those who are not familiar with the term are the electronic online version of a public petition submitted by an individual, which has additional advantages of encouraging online discussion & debate among contributors as well as having the facility to add signatures to a cause anyone thinks worthy of support.

A statement on the Scottish Parliament’s e-petitions website which has lain dormant for a number of months since the Parliament re-launched it’s website during late summer states : A new system for submitting petitions online is currently being developed which we hope to launch shortly. In advance of the launch of this new system, the e-petition facility has been suspended therefore there will be no facility to host petitions online and gather e-signatures. The new system will feature a new e-petition site.

For those of you who want to use the Internet to petition the Parliament,  e-Petitioner allows you to have your petition live on the Internet, rather than just on paper. This way, your petition and supporting information can be made available to a potentially much wider audience, giving you the opportunity to gather more names to support the petition.

A petition may gather signatures in both forms – you can have a paper version and an online version, although repeat signatures will be removed. Each e-Petition also has its own discussion forum, where visitors and signatories can discuss the petition and surrounding issues online. There is also space for supporting information, so that you can add any background necessary and put your petition in context.

Speaking to Diary of Injustice, a spokesperson for the Scottish Parliament commented on the expected e-petitions system re-launch. She said : “Petitions can still be lodged with a webpage on the Parliament’s site for each petition. The Scottish Parliament was the first Parliament to launch an e-petitions site and the 11 year-old system required updating to ensure it could continue to meet both high demand and users’ expectations.”

The spokesperson continued : “The new e-petitions site, where petitioners can gather signatures prior to the petition being lodged, is expected in December.”

Noting the success of some petitions at the Scottish Parliament which petitioners and observers have claimed were ‘helped along’ with the addition of short video clips of specific debates on specific petitions by the Petitions Committee which were posted online on social media outlets, and also here on Diary of Injustice with regards to the long running & heavily debated McKenzie Friend petition, consumer advocates & law reform campaigners have made it be known to Diary of Injustice that a facility on the Scottish Parliament’s e-petitions website to include short video clips of debates on petitions would be a great help to those wishing to participate in online discussions of petitions, rather than having to search through hours of video clips of entire Committee sessions already posted on the Scottish Parliament’s website.

If readers are not familiar with how video clips have helped along some petitions, examples of short clips of petition debates, particularly on the McKenzie Friend petition can be found on Injustice TV and in previous reports on the McKenzie Friend petition, covered by Diary of Injustice HERE where video coverage posted to You Tube and on Diary of Injustice helped bring in international submissions on the McKenzie Friend issue.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Parliament, responding to the idea of including video clips in a form similar to how the BBC DEMOCRACY LIVE website operates, said : “It has never been our intention to provide a service along the lines of Democracy Live. The Parliament has always made available video of all its meetings in public – and this will continue to be the case. The whole petitions system will be integrated now, and it will be easier to register, track, comment and interact with Petitions.”

Anyone who wishes to contact the Scottish Parliament’s Petitions team can do so via emailing the Petitions Committee here : where staff & clerks from the Petitions Committee can address individual questions and develop direct relationships with potential petitioners, providing appropriate support to them.

Margo MacDonald Petitions McKenzie FriendsVideo clips of debates including Margo MacDonald’s fantastic input on McKenzie Friends swung it for success, said observers, and one angry senior judge ! In my experience on petitions I have reported on, particularly the McKenzie Friend Petition which saw the Scottish Parliament’s shining gem, Margo MacDonald MSP give what can only be described as fantastic input into a petition to assist Party Litigants with lay assistance in Scottish Courts, helped along with a particular court judgement in a long running case, the short video clips of the discussions at Holyrood which accompanied reports of the McKenzie Friend petition’s progress on Diary of Injustice, gave an example of how the public, politicians and even members of the judiciary react to the distribution of & public comment on video clips of debates in the Scottish Parliament.

The inclusion of short video clips specific to petitions, along with written reports and a facility to debate or comment on the Committee’s proceedings gives a greater chance of success to the petition at hand and a greater chance of Scots to debate and understand how they see the issues of the petition progressing before their very own eyes. It would be such a simple yet effective addition to the e-petitions website for petitions to have video clips of their own specific debates posted alongside the actual petition.


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