10 April 2013

IDS Petition:

460,000 people is a lot of people!
On Monday the Department of Work and Pensions found out just what that looks like when I delivered the petition calling on Iain Duncan Smith to live on £53 a week right to their doorstep.
Iain Duncan Smith still refuses to respond to the petition but I have no doubt he felt its impact. In fact his department was so surprised by how many journalists turned up at the delivery they went into lockdown for 15 minutes before they conceded they had to open the doors and let us in! 
When I started the petition I didn't think that he would actually take up the challenge, although there is nothing to prevent him from doing it. The point was to highlight the hypocrisy of our politicians living lives of real privilege while lecturing others on what poverty feels like.
This petition was about taking back the control of the debate -- and we did that! 
Last week the petition was reported over 250 times in national media. Press from every major outlet turned out to report the delivery. 
We gave a platform for people affected by the welfare changes to tell their stories. I want to say a special thank you to Heather Simpson, Eileen Short and Ian Mortimer Jones who accompanied me at the delivery. Eileen and Heather campaign with the anti-bedroom tax group and Ian campaigns for the WOW petition - please check out their campaigns. 
And finally I want to thank you and everyone who supported this petition. We brought the debate back to the doorstep of power, and even though they attempted to drag it into the gutter, their actions lacked conviction and confidence, reflecting an establishment rattled by a very modern form of democracy -- people power online.
Ten days ago I was at home getting frustrated about another out of touch politician saying something dismissive on the radio. A week later I was stood in front of five TV cameras getting a chance to tell a different side of the story -- all because I started a petition on Change.org. I sincerely hope this has inspired you as much as it has inspired me. 
I am leaving the petition open so people can still sign it. Iain Duncan Smith will be returning to Parliament next week -- it would be good to clock up even more signers before then!  
Thank you for your support,
P.S. I have written more about my experience of starting the petition on the Huffington Post here.

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