It’s a very common misconception that the Parliament petition website has more impact because of the promise of a debate at 100k signatures – but there are a few reasons this simply isn’t what it’s made out to be:

 

  1. Unlike petition platforms which are designed to grow successful campaigns – the Parliament website isn’t set up to help you grow your petition. There is no functionality to prompt people to share the petition on social media, and you cannot contact anyone who signed the petition at all – so you cannot ask them to share. The vast majority of petition growth comes through people who have signed sharing with friends and family – which makes the 100k mark significantly harder to achieve unless you can go viral!

  2. The Parliament website only will have a petition live for 6 months – after that they close them down, they also reset after an election – and as there is no way to contact people who signed the petition, if you can’t hit 100k in 6 months, you have to start from ground zero with no way of contacting anyone who had signed previously.

  3. Getting 100k signatures doesn’t guarantee a debate – it gets it looked at by a committee of MPs who consider holding a debate. Even if a debate does go ahead, it has no decision making power or voting function – and generally is only attended by supporting MPs and has little impact.

 

If you compare the level of success of 38 Degrees campaigns with parliament petitions, it really plays out! Basically at 38 Degrees our entire mission and reason for existing is to provide tools and support for people to run successful campaigns – something that simply isn’t true of official petition platforms. It means that our platform is designed to make it as easy to grow and gain support as possible, and there is often options beyond just a petition to put pressure on MPs. Whether or not we are able to offer specific office support to the campaign – you have the ability to contact petition signers with requests for action. Not just sharing, things like getting everyone to email your target to raise concerns and pressure them directly, or even donate for an exciting campaign tactic.

 

Obviously not all campaigns are successful – and there are certainly many MPs who don’t take kindly to the level of pressure they face from 38 Degrees members in their constituency. But generally having the ability to build and grow a campaign, to have an ability to email supporters to build the petition and ask them to take actions beyond the petition, is much more important for building pressure and a successful campaign than the potential of a parliamentary debate without a vote or power to directly change.

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