The incredible, invisible Millennium Dome

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Peter Mandelson and his cohorts in charge of the Millennium Dome were recently chastised by a Commons Select Committee for refusing to say what the Dome will actually contain. They have reacted in the most extreme and effective manner. Pretend the thing doesn't exist.

The controversial pounds 750m superstructure, which is soaking up 20 per cent of the Millennium Commission's money, was conspicuous by its absence from a newly unveiled Internet website showing where the lottery-generated cash is being spent.

But was it cock-up or conspiracy? Was this the dawn of a two-year campaign of spin doctoring to convince the public that the Dome was never more than an absurd fantasy, the product of fevered, egomaniacal imaginations? The Commission insisted that the Dome's non-appearance was an administrative oversight rather than a deliberate attempt to play down its significance in favour of less contentious projects which have been overshadowed by publicity given to the New Millennium Experience.

Mike O'Connor, policy director, said: "It's a mistake, an oversight. It's not a conspiracy and it will be on there. We thought it was on there already and we expected it to be. It will be on there." He said that the Dome would feature along with major capital projects being funded by the Commission as a "pin prick", which browsers could click on to find out more about its background.

The website also features the new logo for Commission-funded projects, a distorted blue "M" hovering over an orange crescent. Suggestions that it looked like an M for Mandelson rising above a Dome were dismissed by officials who said it symbolised the dawning of the new Millennium.

But if the Millennium Commission really is serious about putting the Dome on to the website, why doesn't it take a truly radical stance and put it only on the website? If the picture of their most cherished project looked nice on the Internet, why not let that virtual Dome replace the real thing? How grand it would look in 3-D colour. We could all visit the Dome without having to worry about whether the Jubilee line extension was up and running. Sir Cameron Mackintosh could have whatever lavish spectacle he liked, courtesy of state-of-the-art computer graphics. Peter Mandelson could spin doctor the opening in cyberspace. It would definitely be ready on time. And the country would save pounds 750m.

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