It was former British cabinet minister and then Downing Street policy unit Damian Green who in 1994 had urged Prime Minister John Major’s government to embrace the internet to catch up with the White House and stay ahead of a young Opposition leader Tony Blair, a report has revealed.
Green suggested that Major get online to keep up to date. He said internet users will be a growing group of opinion-formers.
“Various MPs who are computer-literate have made the point to me that it would be advantageous for Number 10 to be seen to be up with developments in this area," Green said in a memo to Major's private secretary, Alex Allan, in August 1994.
Allan too was keen on the Prime Minister's office embracing the internet, but said they must avoid "rushing into" asking citizen to send emails to Major - a practice the Clinton administration had already begun.
"I do not believe we would get a huge volume of email in the long run, but we could expect an initial flood as people around the world tried it out for fun," he wrote.
But he remained concerned about President Clinton's White House racing ahead in the adoption of the internet.
Alland agreed that taking the PM's office online would show that it "10 is keeping up with technological trends”.
The Blair factor
There was also the Tony Blair factor to consider for both men.
The future Prime Minister had just a month ago been elected Labour leader following the sudden demise of John Smith.
“Internet users will be a growing group of opinion-formers, and I can just imagine Tony Blair showing how he belongs to a new generation by signing up,” Green wrote in his letter to Allan, the report said.
But funnily Blair was a technophobe, once termed as a 'pen and paper man' by his former spokesman Alastair
When Blair eventually became the Prime Minister, he had no computer on his desk. He never sent an email during his regime.
When porn claimed Green
A final footonote. Green lost his position and his career was cut short following a scandal over internet pornography in December 2017.