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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 August, 2003, 14:05 GMT 15:05 UK
Blair on message with e-mail
Tony Blair outside Number 10
The Prime Minister received about one million letters last year
News that Downing Street has set up the first public e-mail address for Tony Blair has been welcomed by a Labour MP who campaigned for the move.

Tom Watson, MP for West Bromwich East, proved a hit with internet communities for his ironic online attempts to engage the nation's youth.

Mr Watson, a self-confessed internet fanatic, became an unlikely online hit with his spoof teens page on his own website.

He said he hoped Mr Blair's new e-mail facility would encourage greater dialogue between the public and the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister can now be contacted by e-mail via the 10 Downing Street website.

I hope it will help to encourage a greater dialogue between the public and all their elected representatives
Tom Watson MP
Mr Watson, who posts his daily thoughts on his own 'weblog', has been campaigning for Mr Blair to make an e-mail address available to the general public, and laid down Parliamentary questions on the subject last year.

He said: "In the 21st century it's time that people do have the chance to e-mail Tony Blair with their opinions and concerns, without having to buy an envelope and lick a stamp.

"This is a welcome development and I hope it will help to encourage a greater dialogue between the public and all their elected representatives, from the Prime Minister down."

A Downing Street spokesperson said: "The Prime Minister received around one million items of correspondence last year.

"We expect the number of e-mails to be greater than that figure but we can't say by how much."

Everyone submitting a message will get an automated response and Mr Blair will receive regular reports updating him on what's arriving in the inbox.

The move follows the creation of a spoof e-mail address for Mr Blair which was set up by a web-logger who then began forwarding the hundreds of emails he received for the Prime Minister to Downing Street.

On his own site Mr Watson had encouraged young people to engage in political debate through the internet.

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