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Britain's first "e-lection" has been a flop, according to the thinkers at The Industrial Society.

Instead of creating a new theatre for political discussion the Net has become a place to lampoon politicians.

Satirical cartoons and games involving throwing punches and eggs have all left their mark on Britain's online electorate.

The latest online craze is the Stereo MPs from music jocks, MTV. Here you can choreograph Ann Widdecombe, Tony Blair and William Hague to dance to the latest sounds. It is sheer class.

In its report Whatever Happened to the E-Lection The Industrial Society claims that just 2 per cent of Net users sought information about the election campaign online.

Moreover, a staggering 84 per cent of those questioned said they had deliberately avoided electoral coverage when online.

Instead, it seems the Net has been used more for poking fun at the politicians rather than engaging in any serious debate.

The report's author, James Crabtree, said that despite claims that voters want direct face-to-face access to politicians, the survey suggests that virtual voters have rejected traditional politics in favour of a new type of political discussion.

He claims P2P (Peer-to-Peer) politics has grown during the campaign, with voters rejecting hustings-style direct contact with politicians in favour of e-mailing gossip, news or jokes to their friends and family.

The survey reveals that only 10 per cent of web-users would consider e-mailing Tony Blair or their local candidate, whereas a third would send e-mails to their friends about the election, said Crabtree.

More still favour ridiculing politicians by sending jokes over e-mail, he said.

"This election has not seen the dawn of a new era of digital democracy", said Crabtree.

"We spoke to voters in marginal seats like Enfield Southgate, and found that people don't realise there is an election online. The wired generation are voting with their mouse to stay on-line, but off-message, he said." ®

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