The media is loving the people-driven petitions that are forcing Labour on to the defensive about issues like road pricing and inheritance tax (see today’s Express leader on right) but it’s not impossible that the Labour machine might yet enjoy the last laugh. The Labour Government is gathering an enormous number of email addresses and my guess is that they didn’t start this online petitioning without having some political end in mind. There are limits on what they can do with the data and these are spelt out on the Downing Street website. Here is a key sentence:
"We will only use the information you provide us for this purpose, and, unless you ask us not to, to write to you a maximum of two times about the issues raised in the petition."
My concern, however, is that this still gives the Government the potential opportunity to communicate to millions of voters in the run-up to the next General Election on an issue that petitioners are motivated by. Will the Transport Secretary or Prime Minister, for example, be able to communicate to all the petitioners on road pricing about the Government’s general approach to issues of concern to motorists? I may be worrying unnecessarily. I don’t know. Can any reader enlighten me?