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Net Q&A for UK home secretary

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UK home secretary, Jack Straw, is to face the online electorate tomorrow in an Internet Q&A session courtesy of The Guardian’s news site, newsunlimited.co.uk. The site – there’s a link at the foot of this story – is inviting the UK public to email questions for the country’s second most powerful politician to answer tomorrow at 1:15GMT. “Post early to make sure you don’t miss out” – the site says. But anyone who views such events as democracy in action with the wired world helping to put Jo Public in touch with the powers that be is kidding themselves. This is little more than a publicity coup for The Guardian Online. For a kick-off, the submitted questions will be vetted and edited by newsunlimited staff and/or government spin doctors before the chosen few are answered. Even if one assumes no malice on the part of those with the job of picking the lucky few questions, the time restrictions mean that there will, inevitably, be a selection process. Worse than that, the conspiracy theorists out there may want proof that the home secretary will actually be sat at PC in the newsunlimited offices at the allotted time and that the questions won’t be picked (and answered) in advance by one of his press aides. In which case, it almost seems worthless having readers send in their questions. Perhaps the only way to flush out the truth would be if readers of The Register draft some particularly sticky questions for Jack Straw and file them with newsunlimited. If they get answered then all to the good. An obvious one might be: “Jack, is that really you?” But chances are, there’s an answer for that one at the ready. ® Want to quiz the home secretary? Go here.

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