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PM Brown dusts off one interweb per child plan (again)

Stop me if you think you've heard this one before

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As he fights for his political life in a speech at the Labour Party conference in Manchester today, Gordon Brown will hope a sprinkle of magical internet pixie dust can help save him.

According to newspapers briefed on the speech, Brown will announce yet again that the government will put cash towards ensuring all school children have internet access.

We say yet again because the initiative was first trailed in the press by schools minister Jim Knight in January. Oh, and then it was announced again by Channel 4 News in August, with accompanying "this programme has learned" fanfare.

Yet the idea has been fed to and regurgitated again by this morning's press. Some £300m will go on computers and subsidised broadband for poorer families, identified by local councils. The money has been found by the Department for Children, Schools and Families in savings elsewhere in its budget, the Guardian reports.

The Tories immediately jumped on the pre-announcement, condemning the story as "six weeks old". Knight issued his own riposte, denying the Tory interpretation. Which is technically correct, as the story is clearly much much older.

And despite its vintage, the broadband for every child pork barrel has been given top billing among a suite of eye-catching-initiatives aimed at resuscitating Brown's premiership. Ministers also aim for parents to have regular online contact with teachers, but we already knew that, too.

Presumably the government has spoken to the IT industry by now though. In January neither BT nor Microsoft seemed to have much of a clue what was going on. ®

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