Blair's response to road pricing petition

If you just can’t wait to get Tony’s response to the 1.8m signatures in opposition to road pricing, you can get all 1257 words right now from the Downing Street website. Good to see more of a focus on the next step this time, with onward links provided ‘to take it further’… but still far too long in my book.
The language used is balanced, plain-spoken and actually quite persuasive. And for a politician, it’s remarkably candid in places – ‘I fully accept,’ he writes, ‘that we don’t have all the answers yet.’ It closes with a commitment to ‘further consultations… The public will, of course, have their say, as will Parliament. We want to continue this debate, so that we can build a consensus around the best way to reduce congestion, protect the environment and support our businesses.’
I don’t think this ever was a PR disaster, as some have claimed. But by accepting the opposition, and responding to it in a measured and quite constructive manner, Downing Street deserves considerable credit. They didn’t have to do that; it would have been very easy to point to the many frivolous petitions on the system, and declare the whole thing a failed experiment in consultation.
It’s too early to declare this a new era in civic political engagement, but we’ll look back on this moment fondly. The next step is going to be fascinating. How will the public have its say, I wonder? Is an open approach to policy-making to be Blair’s ultimate legacy?

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