Most readers will be well aware of the e-petition lodged by Rangers supporters condemning the recent HMRC investigation into the club’s income tax affairs and alleged information leaks from it.
The petition, not unexpectedly, has been well-supported by Rangers supporters with endorsement by Chris Graham and has jumped into 10th spot in the e-petition league with 31,952 signatures since launch on 22 November.
However, it is understood, that the Government Digital Service which operates the e-petition website will investigate the number of signatures on the Rangers e-petition emanating from single-use e-mail websites. If these represent a significant number of the total signatures then further action will be taken to retain the parliamentary integrity of the process.
So, what does it all mean? Basically Rangers Media has been drumming up support for the e-petition which is to be expected and there is absolutely nothing wrong in that.
But at the head of the Rangers e-petition pinned thread it carries the following info:
‘http://mailinator.com/ provides an instant, disposable email. When filling you the petition if you register the email as something like “firstname.lastname@example.org” – then visit http://mothersname.mailinator.com it will take you to that disposable inbox where you can access the confirmation email.
‘Therefore anyone who many not have an email account, or put off by having to confirm the emails – this offers a quick and handy solution. I’m also unsure if the T&C’s of the e-petition allows you ‘sign’ on behalf of someone else, such as a friend or family member, but if it does… Provided you know their address & postcode this would allow you to easily sign on behalf of someone else without needing access to their email inbox’.
Couched for those ‘who know the score’ it explains that by using mailinator.com you can cast a ‘vote’ for anyone including your own mother without their knowledge as long as you have their name, address and postcode. They will never see the confirmation security-check email from the Government e-petition website which will be accessed and acknowledged by the perpetrator through the mailinator.com email address.
Comment on RM which says it all and not only shows the utter contempt for democracy at work but destroys the validity of the Rangers e-petition: Posted 29 November 2012 – 03:48 PM
Signed again using a different email address… Great idea about a daily reminder
RM might not be the only Rangers fan site showing this advice and it may appear on other Rangers sites, blogs and social media. I feel sure that decent Rangers supporters will be appalled not only at the existence of this ‘mechanism’ but that a major Rangers fan site should advertise the shady ‘loophole’ in relation to what is an important issue for the democratic process which right-thinking Bears obviously fully support.
It could mean that the integrity of the whole Rangers e-petition is called into doubt depending on how many of these one-use email providers, like mailinator.com, are being used.
The Rangers e-petition, now that it has passed 10,000 signatures, is due a response from the responsible department: Her Majesty’s Treasury. E-petitions are next considered for debate by the House of Commons Backbench Business Committee if they pass the 100,000 signature threshold.
However, I am unclear whether the debate decision can be taken even after the 100,000 barrier is breached if the closing date for signatures is still open and the Rangers petition doesn’t close until 22 November 2013 which might, in hindsight, have been a mistake.
Irrespective of the end date there is another real barrier to debate in that if the subject of an e-petition is currently going through legal proceedings, it may be inappropriate for a debate to be held. In view of the private nature of the HMRC proceedings, emphasized in the Rangers e-petition it seems sensible to postpone public debate until ALL legal proceedings, including HMRC appeals have ended. Indeed, the recent demand for an investigation by David Murray could also delay matters.
I personally have puzzled over why David Murray would want any criminal proceedings into private issues which would be avidly reported from an open courtroom as opposed to the ‘secrecy’ of a tax tribunal. In view of some of the information which has already come from the FTT Decision Mr Murray might come to regret his demands IMHO although I suppose we have to accept his judgement no matter how flaky his choice of Wee Craig as a suitable custodian appears to have been. He also decided on using the EBT mechanism when many other football clubs and businesses rejected going down that route.
As to the actual Rangers e-petition it is poorly drafted in general and inaccurate which will provide HMRC with ready ammunition if they so choose to use it. The petition wrongly states that HMRC have pursued Rangers for unpaid taxes for the last three years. The HMRC enquiry began in January 2004 – almost nine years ago.
We have the ‘red herring’ of whether the EBTs were included in the annual accounts – it adds nothing to the petition and actually could damage it if HMRC in answer lists the efforts made to hide documentation, delay the investigation and force a police raid to uncover side-letters.
The statement that the FTT Decision found Rangers ‘not liable’ is simply incorrect albeit it was a much reduced liability. But there was still tax liability and the petition will be judged against such glaring errors of fact. It also follows that if liability exists, as it does, then some ‘law’ or ‘tax regulation’ must have been broken or there would be no liability.
As to the ‘meat’ of the e-petition regarding the leaks – I think it is very weak not to details the exact circumstances complained about and the information leaked as it provides no real starting point from which an HMRC response can be judged as there is no detailed complaint IMHO.
A wider look at e-petitions shows six which have broken the 100,000 signature barrier and are therefore before Rangers in the queue and other new ones might get in front before next November. It should always be remembered that getting 100,000 signatures guarantees nothing except publicity as the Back Bench Business Committee decide which will be debated.
Two 100,000+ petitions received the committee’s seal of approval for debate although not in the House of Commons but in the Palace of Westminster where there is no vote. There is also some talk that the barrier will be raised to 150,000 signatures.
The following are comments posted on RM which indicates that the integrity of the Rangers e-petition is being destroyed by idiots in their own support. Even if they reach the 100,000 target it will be discounted as tainted through cheating.
I have no idea whether similar is happening on other Rangers sites but having read RM I am frightened for the future of this country when people subvert Democracy for a football club. How have we managed to fall so low?
Posted 25 November 2012 – 12:08 PM
Worst comes to worst I’ll spend the last week of it creating email accounts and signing it 50,000 times.
Posted 25 November 2012 – 12:18 PM
Used old email accounts l forgot all about. :)
Posted 22 November 2012 – 11:25 PM
Signed with 5 different email addresses
Posted 23 November 2012 – 03:55 PM
Signed it for me and on behalf of 4 other family members using that mailinator site. Good idea that!
Posted 23 November 2012 – 01:40 PM
I live in Australia bud and I signed it no probs!! Or do you mean non British rangers fans??
Posted 23 November 2012 – 07:13 PM
My girl just signed it, she does not actually know yet. But i’ll have her click the email link soon
Posted 24 November 2012 – 08:38 AM
nacho_nacho_man, on 24 November 2012 – 12:23 AM, said:
Can anyone confirm if we can sign on someone’s behalf, provided their consent is given? I have various older Bears in the family who don’t use the ‘net but care just as much as the rest of our support.
go for it — how will they know
Posted 23 November 2012 – 10:58 PM
i signed myself and my daughter on one email
and wife and son on a different email
Posted 24 November 2012 – 10:56 AM
ive added 11 sigs so far and working on more
Posted 25 November 2012 – 03:05 AM
I feel it is important for people to know that two people can sign using the same email address. So if your Mrs/Hubby,Lover,Dug or Budgie havn’t signed it, get them to do so.As long as they are a UK citizen they can.
Posted 25 November 2012 – 02:15 PM
Done…but now going to sign again via other e-mail accounts
Posted 25 November 2012 – 04:34 PM
Is there an age limit on this? Could I sign for my 6 year old and my 3 year old (they actually have their own e-mail addresses due to their XBOX live accounts)?
Posted 25 November 2012 – 03:21 PM
Just signed it another 6 times 2 work colleagues, the mrs, uncle and 2 kids
Posted 26 November 2012 – 06:28 PM
start creating gmails and/or ymails for family members and friends. sign it with multiple email accounts, might take an hour out ur life but well worth it. sign it for every member of you household seperately and if you know ur friends post code do the same for them.
Posted 27 November 2012 – 05:24 PM
Just signed it 9 times with different mailinator accounts Might just head back and sign it another 5 or 6 times ;)
Posted by Ecojon
Editor’s Note – An interesting precedent for a petition being undermined by “false” signatures comes from the 1848 Petition by the Chartists. The apparent over-inflation of the numbers allowed the government of the day to ignore a petition which it was accepted had just under 2 million legitimate subscriptions.
As chartists.net relates:-
At the start of 1848 Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels published the Communist Manifesto in London, advocating a European revolution. It was to be led by the workers of the countries most advanced towards capitalism. In the following months Paris, Berlin, Vienna and finally Italy erupted into revolution although it is debated how much effect the Communist Manifesto had on these events.
On 10 April 1848, Feargus O’Connor organised a mass meeting on Kennington Common, which would form a procession to present another petition to Parliament. The estimate of the number of attendees varies depending on the source (O’Connor estimated 300,000; the government, 15,000; The Sunday Observer suggested 50,000, which was more accurate). According to John Charlton the government was well aware that the Chartists had no intention of staging an uprising as they had established an extensive network of spies. However, they were very afraid that they could have been mis-informed or that a revolution would start spontaneously. To counter this threat they organised a very large show of force. 8,000 soldiers were in London that day, along with 150,000 special constables. In any case, the meeting was peaceful. However the military had threatened to intervene if the Chartists made any attempt to cross the Thames.
In a separate incident, rioters in Manchester attempted to storm the hated workhouse. A pitched battle resulted with Chartists fighting the police, eventually the mob was broken up, but rioters roamed the streets of Manchester for three days.
The original plan of the Chartists, if the petition was ignored, was to create a separate national assembly and press the Queen to dissolve parliament until the charter was introduced into law. However the Chartists were plagued with indecision, and the national assembly eventually dissolved itself, claiming lack of support.
The petition O’Connor presented to Parliament was claimed to have only 1,957,496 signatures – far short of the 5,706,000 he had stated and many of which were discovered to be forgeries (some of the false signatories included Queen Victoria, Mr Punch and ‘Pugnose’). However, O’Connor argued that many people were illiterate, and did not know how to write their own signatures, and so had to copy someone else’s. O’Connor has been accused of destroying the credibility of Chartism, but the movement continued for some years, with the final National Convention being held in 1858.