• Save Legal Aid – Say No to Cut-Price Justice
    The Ministry of Justice’s current consultation on legal aid – available at https://consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/transforming-legal-aid – will damage our justice system beyond repair. We only have until Tuesday 4 June to respond in full to the consultation paper. Imagine that you or someone you care about was arrested and risked being charged with a criminal offence. You would have access to high quality, publicly-funded legal representation, provided by a lawyer you have confidence in, and receive an individual service, often at a time of great stress. We have a justice system for which we are respected and admired all over the world, in which we treat people as innocent until they are proven guilty before a court, in a fair and transparent trial. As Chairman of the Bar Council and as a criminal practitioner, I know first-hand how important effective access to justice is. If the Government’s proposals go through, all that will change. Vast contracts will be issued to a small number of whichever organisations can offer block legal services at the lowest price. It is more than likely that new organisations will enter into the market; organisations which have no track record in law; only in business. Quality and an individual service will disappear. There will be no choice and the only driver will be price. Instead of having equal access to justice, however much money you have, we will have a two-tier system for those who can afford quality representation and those who can’t. Worse still, the introduction of a system which will hit female and Black, Minority and Ethnic (BME) practitioners the hardest, and lead to a less diverse legal profession, is against the public interest. Please sign this petition to join us in fighting for a justice system we can be proud of not just the cheapest the Government thinks it can get away with. Justice is worth more than that.
    48,561 of 50,000 Signatures
    Created by Maura McGowan QC
  • UK Elections: Include 'None of the Above' on all ballot papers.
    For a thorough and definitive analysis of why NOTA is the logical starting point for electoral reform, that could usher in an era of real democracy that maximises the common good, see our white paper here: https://notaukdotorg.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/nota-wp_15_js_rv.pdf Consent is central to the concept of democracy. But consent is only measurable if it is possible to withhold it. In the context of elections, this withholding of consent MUST be formal as consenting (voting) is formal. Yet it is currently impossible to do this. Abstaining is not formally withholding consent, it is simply not participating and can be dismissed as voter apathy with no further analysis. Spoiling the ballot in protest is not formally withholding consent either as they are lumped in with those spoiled in error. Any spoiled vote count is therefore meaningless as a measure of voter discontent. And neither abstaining or ballot spoiling affects the election result in any way. Having a formal 'None of the Above' (NOTA) option on ballot papers is the only way to formally withhold consent at an election. For this reason, NOTA can be shown to be a democratic pre-requisite. As such, inclusion of it would be achievable, with enough understanding and support for it among the general public, because to argue against NOTA is to argue against the concept of democracy itself, once both ideas are properly understood. The powers-that-be must be seen to be pro-democracy at all times, even if they aren't in practice. NOTA, essential in any true democracy, is therefore achievable. All other touted reforms, PR for example, are seen as desirable only, so can be paid lip service to and ignored by those in power. This is why NOTA should be the ground zero of electoral reform. In February 2015 we took a significant step closer to getting it. Thanks to NOTA UK's lobbying, the parliamentary Political & Constitutional Reform Committee (PCRC) felt compelled to recommend that the next government hold a public consultation before May 2016 solely on inclusion of NOTA on ballot papers. This was due to their conclusion that there is not only huge demand for it but that there would be a clear positive impact on voter engagement of having it. This was a huge development. Unfortunately, one of the very first acts of the incoming Conservative government that year was to shut down the PCRC, rendering all their good work on this and many others issue much harder to follow up on. However, on the upside, it is now an official policy of the Green Party of England & Wales to introduce a Re-Open Nominations (RON) option to UK ballot papers, effectively NOTA by another, less well known name. This is definitely a step in the right direction. Having a ‘None of the Above’ option on ballot papers for all future UK elections, as well as providing a way for people to cast a protest vote if they so choose, would be a game changer for our political system as a whole – but only if implemented properly i.e.: with formalised consequences for the result in the event of it ‘winning’. In other countries that have a NOTA option, India for example, in the event of a NOTA ‘win’, the candidate or party polling the next highest number of votes would be allowed to take office regardless. Clearly, this renders the option meaningless, as a NOTA 'win' would indicate that more voters actively rejected all the available candidates than endorsed any one of them. It therefore makes no sense for the next placed candidate or party to be elected. For NOTA to be effective in the event of it ‘winning’, a remedial process must be triggered. The election must be re-run with new candidates and/or policies in place. In the UK, this would most likely occur at constituency level, triggering by-elections only. But if it were to ever occur nationally, then a second general election would have to follow. This is democracy in action. In such circumstances, we propose an empty seat is returned for each constituency has rejected all candidates, but for no more than three to months while preparations for by-elections are put in place. This would avoid political instability and the possibility of voter fatigue from having instant re-run elections whilst ensuring that the will of the electorate is honoured in an acceptable time frame. This is no more or less disruptive than what happens when an MP dies or steps down suddenly. The knock on effect of having this real NOTA option with real ramifications could be huge. To avoid a NOTA defeat, or even to avoid finishing behind the NOTA option (just as embarrassing), parties would have to rethink their choices of candidates and policies and offer something that might be acceptable to more of the electorate, would-be NOTA voters included. Implemented this way, as well as engaging disillusioned non-voters, NOTA also has the potential to engage disillusioned voters and bring politics and our democracy into the 21st Century, ultimately making our democracy something meaningful and worth engaging with in the first place - something that genuinely maximises the common good over time. If you agree, please sign and share the petition and let the current crop of career politicians and vested interests know that enough is enough. Thank you.
    11,571 of 15,000 Signatures
    Created by Jamie Stanley Picture
  • MP's spare bedrooms at taxpayers' expense
    In the light of the current legislation which aims to claw money back from social housing tenants who are in receipt of housing benefit if their accommodation has 'too many' bedrooms - it might be interesting to discover how many MPs have claimed for housing that they 'under-occupy', and which of these MPs are in favour of the bedroom tax.
    128 of 200 Signatures
    Created by David Robson
  • Support Dorset & Hampshire's Offshore Wind Farm
    As you are probably aware; Navitus Bay Wind Park (1) will be located off the Dorset and Hampshire Coasts, to the west of the Isle of Wight, and also visible from Bournemouth, Poole and Swanage. I understand this development could produce the equivalent energy to power 800,000 homes and reduce carbon emissions by up to 1,125,000 tonnes per annum. This will be a tremendous contribution to our country's energy needs and carbon reductions. It will also help towards our renewable energy target of 15% which in the past few years has been behind plan and behind the progress rates of many other EU nations (2). I am very concerned however that a small group of local activists are using information that has little to no scientific backing to discredit this development and are creating fears about the impact on tourism and jobs in the area. I would urge you to balance any of their views against the report produced by The University of Edinburgh, presented to a Committee of the Scottish Parliament (3) in which there is clear consensus that there has been no measurable economic impact, either positively or negatively, of wind farms on tourism and concludes that “while some strongly held localised and anecdotal opinion exists, the Committee has seen no empirical evidence which demonstrates that the tourism industry in Scotland will be adversely affected by the deployment of renewable energy projects, particularly onshore and offshore wind” I appreciate the turbines will be visible from the coast on a clear day but believe this to be a small and perfectly acceptable compromise for the benefits delivered. Furthermore, I personally confirm that this development will not any way restrict the frequency or manner in which I enjoy the beach and coastal areas in the effected locations. 1. www.navitusbaywindpark.co.uk 2. http://ec.europa.eu/energy/renewables/reports/doc/com_2013_0175_res_en.pdf 3. www.scottish.parliament.uk/S4_EconomyEnergyandTourismCommittee/Reports/eeR-12-07w-r.pdf
    1,700 of 2,000 Signatures
    Created by Mark Chivers
  • Please Help stop the UK Governments plan to retroactively change the law!!
    Last year, student Cait Reilly and unemployed driver Jamieson Wilson, took the Tory led coalition to task over their controversial Workfare programme arguing that it was unlawful. Three Judges found that regulations under which most of the Tory led coalition back-to-work schemes were created are unlawful. The main issue is that the Tory led coalition lost this case and they lost because they failed to provide sufficient and legal information about Workfare to job-seekers. It is estimated that 231,000 people were originally affected by their decision and had their benefits sanctioned (ie stopped). The morality of the Workfare system is not being debated here (although flaws of the system are outlined below). This petition is about the abhorrent behaviour of the Tory led coalition that followed this decision and their decision to retroactively change the law. On 19 March 2013, a Bill was rushed through the House of Commons which will change the law (that they broke) retroactively thus enabling the Tory led coalition to avoid having to repay the money that they illegally took from job-seekers - an average of £550 per person. The issue here is threefold: Firstly, the Tory led coalition (assisted by Labour and Lib Dems) are trying to retrospectively change the law to protect themselves from their own flawed policies. By retrospectively changing the law they can ensure that no law has now been broken and thereby avoid having to repay those who they illegally sanctioned. This behaviour is morally repugnant and vile and cannot be allowed to happen. Secondly, there seems to be a complete media blackout on the story and the Bill was rushed through, the day before the Budget - one may argue in an attempt to bury it? Thirdly, the Workfare scheme is fundamentally flawed and has been shown not to be an effective tool to get unemployed back in to work. The problem is there are no jobs for people and the Tory led coalition is deflecting this fact away by demonising those looking for work such as Miss Reilly and Mr Wilson. There is plenty of evidence to show that workfare claimants are replacing real jobs. Since this WP came in, many retail giants and the Royal Mail have used workfare so they don't have to offer overtime to their existing workers. Asda recently put all their part-time staff on contracts which guarantee just 4 hours work a week. Many shops are run by workfare. This whole scheme is about exploiting labour - the workfare claimants are being exploited for free labour; the existing workers are being exploited by losing hours and pay; and we are all being exploited when what we buy is making profits for corporations which are using what is effectively indentured labour. People who are fortunate enough to be paid for their work are afraid of rocking the boat lest they be replaced. These schemes guarantee a cowed and compliant workforce, paid or not, who will be reluctant to unionise and unwilling to protest in case they lose their jobs. Meanwhile, taxpayers' money is being poured by the billion into the coffers of welfare-to-work companies and corporate profiteers, and Labour seem to be OK with this in principle. These are extremely important issues and cannot be ignored.
    12,217 of 15,000 Signatures
    Created by shari finch Picture
  • Re-formulate the proposed new National Curriculum (Primary)
    We believe that the new proposals for the National Curriculum (Primary) 2014 are not fit for children, teachers or education in the 21st Century and must be re-formulated. We believe that the present proposals demonstrate a lack of respect for and trust in the experience and expertise of the teaching profession, parents/carers and children themselves. We believe that the proposals contradict the stated intentions. We agree that certain items may be worthwhile (especially where experts from Subject Associations have had an input). Overall, however, there is a lack of rationale and coherence. There has been insufficient consultation on aims, from which principled curriculum design may flow. Aims and underlying values have not been well articulated. This is not a curriculum that will raise standards. The proposals overall do not take sufficient account of what is known about how children learn. They do not allow sufficiently for individual differences. They may appear to be demanding and yet, in many respects, are superficial. Specifying a great deal that must be taught cannot ensure that children will be able to learn this content in a meaningful way. There is an over-emphasis on knowledge as received ideas and information, rather than collaborative, creative, higher order, disciplined thinking and reasoning. We are concerned that children will not be engaging in deep learning that meets their individual needs and challenges their thinking. Instead, the expectations are that they will perform in response to very specific demands. We believe that this will lead to failure and increased disadvantage for many children. We believe that the overly detailed and prescriptive content in the core subjects of English, Maths and Science will destroy the possibilities for breadth and balance in the primary curriculum and there will be insufficient room for other valued areas of learning. We believe that the proposals invite a simplistic approach to assessment. We are concerned that assessment arrangements (not yet published) will be target driven. We believe this will create a risk to children’s education and well-being. This is a very real risk. There is already evidence in public sector services of the damage that can be caused by over-emphasis on the achievement of targets. More respect needs to be shown for the way the National Curriculum has evolved since 1988 and what has been learned through the enormous efforts and experience of teachers; children; researchers; educationalists and policy makers.
    2,235 of 3,000 Signatures
    Created by Sue Cox
  • Defend the right to challenge the cuts
    Michael MacDonald was arrested on the night of the 16th February when he was at home alone looking after his young son. The arrest followed an incident earlier in the day when MacDonald, known by friends and colleagues as 'Don', engaged with Nick Forbes, the the Labour Council leader, in the street. 'Don' wanted to discuss with Forbes, the effects of the cuts to Newcastle's youth services, which the youth worker fears will have a devastating effect on the most vulnerable residents of the city. Don was not threatening to him. He didn't swear. He only tried to explain to Forbes, as a professional youth worker, the effects these cuts would have on the city's services. The actions taken by Forbes and the police are not what we expect of those who are meant to serve and protect the residents of Newcastle. It is important that situations involving the police as outlined above are not allowed to occur, which serve to intimidate and disturb the people of Newcastle who exercise their right to peaceful protest and freedom of speech. Although a minor offence, if charged Don would be left with a criminal record and there would a black mark against this hard-working and well respected community worker. Don was served a fixed penalty notice under Section 5 of the Public Order Act, but has returned this notice to the court and has stated his intention to fight the accusation. His arrest has serious implications for public protest and freedom of expression in Newcastle and nationally. We stand with him against this attack on the right to protest. The accusation is unjust, meant to intimidate and is preposterous. It is clear that: 1. A civil servant has used their authority to demand an arrest. 2. The police have removed a family man from his home in the middle of the night when he had sole responsibility for his six year old child, detained him for four hours on the basis of a minor charge, during which time he was encouraged to accept a fixed penalty fine for doing nothing more than exercising the rights we all have as residents of Newcastle. Initial signatories: John McDonnell MP Kate Hudson, national secretary Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament Jerry Hicks, Unite Grassroots Left Dot Gibson, National Secretary Pensioner Convention Bill Bowring, Haldane Society Socialist Lawyers Andrew Burgin, vice chair Coalition of Resistance
    1,001 of 2,000 Signatures
    Created by Stuart Robertson
  • Stop Earl's Court Scheme
    At £8 billion, the Earl's Court redevelopment scheme is the largest in the world outside of China. It challenges the Government's committment to the Big Society and Localism and looks set to repeat the mistakes of property speculation that busted the Western economies. The campaign to save the Exhibition Centres, the rail depot and engineering works and the two council estates is on the front line battling to champion democracy and community in the face of rampant prfiteering by tax-havenbed entitiers at the expense of the poor, jobs and our international trade. The petition wording explains further.
    14 of 100 Signatures
    Created by Jonathan Rosenberg
  • Reduce Crown Copyright from 50 years to 10 years
    The UK's copyright laws for government works are archaic. In the USA for example works of the Federal Government don't get any copyright protection. The restrictive Crown Copyright rules that currently apply in the UK make it harder for campaigning websites to reproduce government documents in full and don't help information-based businesses. This campaign isn't for the rules to be scrapped though but rather for the period of protection to be reduced to 10 years which means the government can exploit its works commercially for one decade if it wishes to do so. In the digital era a government copyright term of longer than ten years cannot be justified.
    37 of 100 Signatures
    Created by J Cross
  • National Probation Cuts - Creating Dangerous Communities
    PLANNING TO CUT 70% of Probation Services Nationally and replace 70% of the Probation Services delivery with the management services of SERCO and G4S WHO ARE BUILDING MORE PRISONS INSTEAD OF REHABILITATION ERODING CIVIL LIBERTIES IN BREACH OF THE UK 1689 BILL OF RIGHTS AND MAGNA CARTA 1215 2. That G4S and SERCO are to be the Lead Provider managing the Financial Risk and Risk Management in whatever form that arises with the expectation that the third sector , voluntary community organisations, supported housing etc. to take on that risk and sub-contract to G4S + SERCO to bid for Service delivery??????? 3. As our colleagues had suggested there will be a MASSIVE VACUUM WITHOUT the National Probation Services!!!! 4. We are concerned that communities will not be efficiently protected and that the PBR System is unrealistic. Community organisations cannot wait up to 3 years waiting for results before they receive any payment on the completion of an evaluated target result. The whole idea of PBR defeats the objective of the work that we all do. 5. The most accurate analogy of the relationship between Community Organisations + Supported Housing Providers+Probation Services + MAPPA is the equivalent of : 6. MAPPA + PROBATION SERVICES IS A MARRIAGE THAT SHOULD NOT BE INTERFERED WITH OR SEPARATED!!! IT IS DANGEROUS FOR ALL COMMUNITIES ALL OVER THE UK.
    177 of 200 Signatures
    Created by MBILA MUELA
  • Public inquiry into handling of the Trump Resort
    Only a full public inquiry can now get to the bottom of this story. We need to know how local and central government dealt with the Trump Organisation, what was offered by whom and when, and we need to establish why planning guidelines and environmental regulations were simply unable to protect our community and the unique environment we live in. Finally, we need to know what changes can be made so the planning system again works like it is supposed to.
    19,555 of 20,000 Signatures
    Created by David Milne Picture
  • Protect the Freedom of Information Act
    The FOIA was introduced in 2000 to improve transparency, accountability and security (TAS) but at this juncture TAS is NOT seen to be working at the ICO, Upper Tribunal and dozens of public authorities nationwide. If TAS is not seen to be working, then in all probability, it ain't working. We need to protect the FOIA because there are a large Number of Individuals and People in Public Office that are currently offerering lip service to the FOIA. Evidence of such can be seen in a recent Test Case Hearing GIA/3037/2011 Alan M Dransfield V ICO & Devon County Council available at the Upper Tribunal website
    241 of 300 Signatures
    Created by Alan Dransfield