Ken Clarke takes campaign onto the Web

Electioneering gets interactive as online users ask questions at the first ever Webcast held in a Conservative leadership contest

Former chancellor Kenneth Clarke has shown that some politicians are serious about using new technology to help them get elected, by holding a live Webcast on Wednesday morning.

Clarke, who is hoping to be elected leader of the Conservative Party, declared in response to a question posted by a ZDNet UK journalist that if elected as leader he would use the Internet as a campaign tool. "In the US, most politicians have decent Web sites, and many voters go directly to these sites to learn about the policies they believe in. We're not too far behind the States in terms of technology, and I certainly hope that the leader of the Conservative party will have such a Web site in place by the time of the next election," he said.

In the live online interview, Clarke answered ten questions emailed to him by Internet users -- defining his political philosophy, explaining how his economic policies differed from the current Labour government and discussing how he would boost electoral turnout. He also used the opportunity to broadcast his campaigning video.

Clarke claimed that that the event was "certainly a world first in Net interviews for the Conservative leadership," but insisted that modern technology was not alien to him.

Despite being one of the most senior members of the British political scene, 60-year-old Clarke seems to have recognised the potential of the Internet. His campaign team sends out campaigning material by email, and his website, www.kennethclarke.net, is regularly updated. "Every member of my campaign team uses new technology to keep in touch," Clarke said.

The Webcast was broadcast on www.virtuebroadcasting.com, and took place at the London College of Printing.

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