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Westminster on speed

The media are blamed for creating a society awash with information but devoid of knowledge. Last November, in a foretaste of the election campaign, politicians showed that they must share the blame. Jane Robins reports on the arrival of digital politics

By Jane Robins   May 1997

On 20th November 1996 British politics changed. It went digital. On that day, computers and databases were mobilised in a new precision warfare. Instead of a face-to-face battle of ideologies, where victory goes to the party which convinces voters that its views are the right ones, the new politics is a hit-and-run guerrilla warfare where facts serve as bullets and the victor is the party which gets more of its intended message into the public domain.

This is the politics of manoeuvre and performance. The political parties bombard the media with more facts than they can handle, and then put…

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