All very entertaining, in its own sweetly befuddled way, but the three-hour Commons debate on whether to allow Donald Trump into Britain was, of course, a complete waste of breath.

Hot air – which is what our MPs have lots of – did little more than fan the flames of Trump the chump’s vile self-promotion. And that’s what he and a lot of his hysterical American disciples love most. They crave that fanning.

So, we did them all a favour in fact. And I say “we” with a heavy heart of sad conviction, for it was a public online petition which forced the parliamentary circus performance in the first place.

It’s hard to decide definitively whether these internet petitions are a good or bad adjunct to what we accept as our democracy. Since governments are notoriously reluctant to engage with genuine public opinion, preferring to turn deaf ears to calls for action, it’s obviously useful to be able to force their hands on important occasion.

On the other hand, they’re all over the place now and many of them make no attempt to be of either use or ornament. One click – more if you can get away with it – and you can shunt policy this way or that… so long as there’s enough of you. And that clearly holds potential for extreme daftness.

A petition is running now, calling for a full, independent inquiry into the death of Cumbrian baby Poppi Worthington and the abject failure of police and the county council to investigate and openly address the circumstances of her death in 2012.

In the face of exhaustive authoritarian efforts to keep those circumstances secret, public pressure to force nervous hands to deliver what is an enshrined public entitlement – in life and death – is absolutely right and necessary. She and we deserve delivery of justice. I’d urge you sign.

But who in their right mind could ever believe any UK government would agree to ban from these shores a turnip-headed bigot who may one day be the next US president?

Face it, if our leaders can dither about expelling murderous Russians with pockets full of poison, how are they going to willingly cold-shoulder a potential White House tenant?

Stopping Donald Trump from coming to the UK would risk turning him into a martyr, Labour MP Paul Flynn argued. A martyr, no less. It would be hilarious, were it not so sickeningly, coweringly tragic.

Keeping him out would promote religious harmony, others argued. He would incite racial hatred, some more insisted. We might dislike what he stands for but we’re a nation of free speech and he has the right to say what he wants, came additional cries from the don’t-rightly-knows.

And so the whole sorry fiasco fizzled out without a vote. No surprise there, then. Still, the promise of responding to public petition had been kept… sort of. And at least grandstanding MPs had had the chance to get things off their chests.

Online campaigns to stop him building golf courses here or coaching Lord Sugar on how to be crueller to contestants on The Apprentice might have been more useful. But banning him from the UK – when the UK will forever want to nestle comfortably in America’s pocket? Not a chance.

It was a waste of time and opportunity to make a difference for good.

Please don’t let little Poppi’s cries for the justice she has so far been denied suffer the same fate. In her name and on behalf of all children who suffer in silence, sign.