Election '97: Netties vote with their terminals as Lib Dems take cyber plaudits

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The Independent Online
Who said the Liberal Democrats were the party of beards and open-toed sandals? Computer whizz-kids have voted them the best party in cyberspace.

"Netties" who logged in to The Independent Virgin internet site to choose a party by clicking on the policies they liked best put the Liberal Democrats way ahead of the other parties with 50.2 per cent of the votes.

Labour was second with 26 per cent, and the Conservatives were third with 23.6 per cent of the computer voters.

But wait ... something seems to be amiss here. These votes seem to be coming in from some rather strange locations. Who, for example, could "stratfordlibdems.compulink.co.uk" be?

And who is Liz Roberts-Morgan from "tory.org.uk."? Last night no-one at Conservative Central Office could say.

There is only one explanation: the poll has been rigged.

How else could one explain the lack of log-ins from "labour.millbanktower.org.uk"? Surely Peter Mandelson would never let such a chance go by?

The 2,000 computer freaks who contacted The Independent's site were given details of each party's policy on 15 different areas. They were asked to click on the one they preferred, and then told which way they should vote on the basis of their preferences.

The Liberal Democrats did best on defence, where their plans to strengthen UN peacekeeping and control arms sales seem to have won them support. They took 63.4 per cent of the votes in that area. They also polled strongly on transport, where plans for more rail freight and for urban road pricing were popular.

Labour was the most popular party on the areas of the constitution, housing and the environment. The Conservatives were strongest in just one area, the economy.