A post on Socialist Unity questioned the effectiveness of epetitions as a political weapon. Personally, I'm ambivalent as to whether they achieve as much as the time and resources put into them. However, I am certain of one thing and that if a petition is going to be put forward that it meets a certain criteria. It should be presented in plain understandable language; it should be factually correct; and the subject matter should be inclusive so as not to antagonise the target audience, or those who have a stake in the issue.
Below there are three petitions that I took from the SU post. The ICC petition and the one calling for ministers within the DWP to be investigated for corporate manslaughter are certainly worth signing. However, the one asking for exclusion for people with mental health 'problems' from DLA assessments in 2013 should not, in my view, be supported.
The petition http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/35092 is poorly worded and phrased as well as factually inaccurate and divisive.
The appeal confuses the situation by stating people will be assessed in 2013 for DLA, when the assessment will be for PIP (personal independence payment), and according to the rules of the new benefit which are more stringent than those of the current DLA.
Anyone going for assessment can be accompanied by a friend or representative. This is not to say being accompanied will necessarily improve your chances of receiving benefit; nor, according to people who've undergone ATOS assessments for ESA, will it stop ATOS assessors from manipulating medical evidence in order to downgrade results.
While those being wrongly assessed for ESA, including people with terminal illnesses, are being forced to present themselves as 'fit' for work in order to receive JSA, the PIP assessments are being not carried out to assess fitness for work; instead they are to assess whether a disabled person fulfils new criteria introduced in order to qualify for personal independence payment.
Finally, the disability movement, while recognising that people with mental health illnesses are subject to a range of difficulties unmet by others, does not support making distinctions when it comes to fighting against the inherent injustices manifold within the new PIP benefit.
Disabled people must be as one when fighting against the inequities embodied within the personal independence payment. When presenting petitions it is imperative we present our arguments fluently and factually. The petition in question does not lay out its case factually; and is, in my view divisive in its call to just exclude one group of disabled people, but not only that, its call for exemption implies acceptance of the new benefit and its rules.