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Wednesday, 29 April, 1998, 10:57 GMT 11:57 UK
Political parties battle for Internet attention
Connecting with the cyber constituency: Blair and Hague go head-to-head
Connecting with the cyber constituency: Blair and Hague go head-to-head
By Chris Nuttall, BBC Internet correspondent

The weekly sparring of Tony Blair and William Hague at Prime Minister's Questions in parliament will be matched on Wednesday with a tussle between them on the Internet for the attention of a new cyber constituency.

Tony Blair will be interviewed by Sir David Frost in a live Webcast from the revamped 10 Downing Street site. Sir David will be posing questions e-mailed to the prime minister's residence.

Not to be outdone, William Hague will be answering questions live on AOL UK - an Internet service provider.

AOL will also be reporting his day in pictures on its site, culminating in live video of the launch of the Conservative Network - a new organisation aimed at attracting young professionals to join the party.

New push to connect with voters

Both Labour and the Conservatives have well-established sites on the Web, but direct contact over the Internet with users appears to be a new attempt to reach out to a growing constituency.

Nine million people in the UK are expected to access the Web in 1998 and nearly a million households now have Internet connections.

Question-and-answer sessions are also proving increasingly popular forums on the Net. An estimated 20,000 people tried to ask a 300-pound gorilla called Koko questions on Monday in what was described as the first interspecies chat. The gorilla's replies were somewhat monosyllabic.

PM prefers pointing to typing
PM prefers pointing to typing
Mr Hague appears more computer-literate than Mr Blair, preferring to type out his answers directly to correspondents on the keyboard.

Mr Blair's wife, Cherie, is the opposite to her husband and is described as an IT queen by friends. She plans to contribute regularly to the new Downing Street site.

The Prime Minister's Webcast is expected to be the first of several to be made by cabinet members in the coming months.

See also:

15 Apr 98 | Sci/Tech
Blair faces cybergrilling
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