Page last updated at 08:22 GMT, Friday, 26 September 2008 09:22 UK

Tory blog canvasses policy ideas

By Mark Lobel
BBC News

Conservative.com screen grab
Members of the public will submit their own campaign ideas

Conservative supporters are to be asked for their policy ideas, as the party updates its website.

They will send in text, pictures and videos laying out their thoughts, with winning proposals to be put to shadow cabinet ministers.

The Tories said the "Blue Blog", part of a 250,000 site redesign, would help create a "sense of closeness" between supporters and party leaders.

It is based on techniques used by US presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Competition

Conservative Party chairman Caroline Spelman said it would play "an important role in getting our message out".

A new policy theme will be announced every four weeks or so, with registered site members asked to come up with their ideas.

The first competition is to find out "what the UK's sporting legacy should be for the 2012 Olympics", with the winner getting the chance to meet shadow culture and sport secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Conservative.com screen grab
A video wall will feature hundreds of short, personal videos from supporters

After each policy round, the relevant shadow cabinet minister will take up the chosen idea on behalf of the party if they deem it financially viable.

Ms Spelman said: "With a general election on the horizon the rejuvenated website will play an important role in getting our message out and be an integral part of any campaign."

Designers have attempted to replicate Mr Obama's online canvassing of ideas, which they believe has drawn supporters closer to his campaign.

The Tory site will be divided into 12 regional areas, to create a portal for local news, views, opinion and video content.

This could be expanded to include constituency pages if the idea catches on.

Conservative supporters will also be able to upload a short video on "The Wall" to explain why they support the party.

A booth at the party's annual conference, in Birmingham, will offer delegates the chance to record their message.

Speeches and debates from the main conference hall will be streamed live on the web throughout the four-day gathering, which begins on Sunday.


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