A recent example was the petition to scrap the plans for road pricing. According to reports, 1.27 million signed this on-line.
However, this appears to have been disregarded, and plans are going ahead.
Asked on the BBC if such petitions would inform policy making, Cabinet minister Ruth Kelly said: "I think it's a good test of public opinion on a particular issue, but what they don't judge is the overall terms of the debate, the choices that politicians have to make in a representative democracy."
In other words, do as we say, not as you want; is this real democracy?.
aren't a waste of time - they're an expression of people's feelings, and for every person who is keen enough to take part there are probably quite a lot more who feel the same way, but just don't want to march in the streets, or whatever.
It would be a very silly politician who ignored public demonstrations completely.
Having been in one or two peaceful and non-peaceful protest, I can now look back and say "What a nice day out that was". Did they solve any issues, I doubt it very much.
And as for sending or contributing to on-line petitions, its a bit like listening with a large wad of cotton wool in your ears.It didn't stop two of our local well used post offices being closed, and the friendly staff being made redundant.