Headlines: May 21st, 2001

The Labour Party has been praised for its commitment to new ways of working. The party’s manifesto contains the largest number of pledges relating to the use of the internet of the three main parties, analysis by VoxPolitics has revealed.VoxPolitics is a campaign – sponsored by the Stationery Office and with four leading think-tanks as partners – to explain how new technology will change politics and government forever.

The manifesto includes promises to introduce a new communications regulator covering the Internet as well as telecommunications and television; to support regional regeneration programmes that include “high quality information” for business development via the internet; and to put all government services online by 2005.

There are also renewed pledges to develop ‘Transport Direct’, a phone and internet system designed to plan journeys and sell tickets to put transport services at people’s fingertips; ‘Culture On-line’, a cultural portal; and ‘Curriculum Online’ for schoolchildren.

But Voxpolitics criticises the lack of targets for universal wiring up of the nation, which would avoid a digital divide. It also criticises vagueness about what exactly the party will do in its pledge to tackle child pornography on the internet.

The Liberal Democrats are judged to be the next most internet-aware party, with a promise in their manifesto to develop libraries as centres for free internet access.

They are also the only party to enthuse about the possibility of internet voting.

As for the Conservatives, the review says their manifesto contains no mention of the words ‘internet’, ‘web’, ’email’ or ‘online’ apart from a web address and an email address for contacts.