Online Tory sleaze makes way for cash-for-questions

Mighty political force falls through holes in the Net

The Conservative Party's attempt to get groovy with the Net by offering users the chance to sign up for its own ISP has come in for further ridicule. Some prankster has created a site devoted to "cash for questions"* using the free Web space available on Tory.org. The site gives users the opportunity state which MP they want to table a question, and how much they're prepared to pay for the privilege. Suggestions can also be sent to cashforquestions@tory.org. A notice on the site reads: "This site believes that all MPs are in fact honourable law abiding citizens, and would never accept cash for questions. "If you are stupid enough to allow free ISP access with no validation, and can't even be bothered to give terms and conditions on the use of the service, you just deserve to have the rip taken..." Whoever is behind this has a point -- the same point made last week by The Register when it broke the story about the apparent lax attitude this major political party has about its ISP. The Tories are either incredibly trusting or very naive to assume that such a high profile service won't become a target for pranksters and mischief-makers. The Party only has itself to blame for creating a conduit for ridicule and abuse. Worse still, as the official Opposition -- with ambitions, no doubt, to govern the country again at some point in the future -- the Tories have displayed little or no grasp or understanding about the Net, or how it works. As future lawmakers responsible for economic prosperity and social cohesion in an evermore Net-orientated world, is this not a worry? ® * In 1997, an investigation found that former Conservative MP, Neil Hamilton, had received cash in return for asking questions in Parliament. The Downey report also fingered a number of other Tory politicians who had "concealed payments from Parliament". The episode has helped create an indelible link between the Tory party and sleaze. See also: Sleaze unearthed at Tory party ISP Cash for Questions site

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