The next general election will see parties using the Internet to target voters in key marginals. And the 2005 election "could be won or lost on the Internet," according to Lord Mitchell, the Labour working peer who has pioneered Millbank's sophisticated IT campaign system.
In an exclusive interview with Computer Weekly, Mitchell described Labour's campaign IT system as a "product" which would come into its own in the next election.
Mitchell believes that as parties begin to use sophisticated customer segmentation tools, the political message will become more segmented. "I think Labour - and I suspect all other parties - will want to direct personalised messages to people. Instead of giving a blanket policy statement, they will want it to become personalised. Technology allows that to happen," he said.
Mitchell, who is chairman of IT leasing company Syscap, said the recent US election showed how e-mail campaigning could blow apart restrictions on campaign spending.
"If you have got the e-mail addresses of everybody in the constituency, you can send them e-mail ad nauseam, for nothing. Whereas, before, you had the printing bill, now you can get a beautiful .pdf file that you can zap across to people - and it doesn't cost a penny."