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22nd October 2021

I am on the email list of ‘change.org’ offering me petitions to ‘sign with a click’ (so easy!). Some I dismiss, some I am glad to support: for innocent people in danger of imprisonment by tyrannical governments. I am also encouraged to write to my MP urging them to vote for an amendment to the Environment Bill or to amend or throw out the UK Borders and Policing Bills, or to campaign for better treatment for refugees.

All very laudable, but do these actions do any good? Petitions can eventually reach Parliament; an MP can be moved to action by a torrent of emails but did my actions help? My days of marching are over; today’s protests seem more bitterly hard-hitting than the ones I joined for Drop the Debt. We were assured these made a difference and progress was made, mainly because some government ministers were in favour: we strengthened their campaign vis-a-vis the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Nowadays we are protesting against ungenerous, self-regarding measures by a government which believes this is what the public wants. When I sign petitions or email MPs urging a kinder, more generous and more open Britain, am I joining a substantial pressure group or am I part of a minor ineffectual subculture? Even if black footballers have to endure hate mail and some people spread vitriol on Twitter, Sir David Amess’ death leads to remembering his kindness and how we should continue it. ‘Children in Need’ is coming up: just the opportunity for kindness in action!

Lesley Fuller