Wired prime minister Toneeee e-Blair should take heart from news that his MPs aren't quite so gullible as some might like to think.
Web-based e-mail company another.com sent a spoof e-mail to 89 Labour MPs from firstname.lastname@example.org to see how many would respond.
The email was short and to the point, but asked, as a postscript, if they had any suggestions for baby's names.
Those impish guys at another.com decided to have a laugh after it was revealed that former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown failed to respond to an e-mail from the PM -after he assumed it was a hoax.
If only the ten Labour MPs who did reply were as Net savvy.
Stockton North MP Frank Cook gushed with all the enthusiasm of someone looking to progress his career:
"Thanks muchly for the wonderful surprise of your E-mail --- I shall recount tales of its arrival in the most dramatic terms to my greatgrandchildren," he enthused before suggesting Felisa and Felix as names for the Blair's new baby.
Wirral West MP Stephen Hesford suggested Catherine, while Cambridge MP Anne Campbell was reluctant to offer any suggestion fearing it may influence the outcome of "Guess the Baby's Name" competitions being held in a number of constituencies. Despite appearing hesitant about the authenticity of the e-mail she replied giving her personal address and contact details. One can only assume, on balance, she thought the e-mail was genuine.
South Thanet MP Steve Ladyman was more cautious and replied to the email with a question "only the Prime Minister would know" to confirm it was really him.
Graham Goodkind, co-founder of another.com, said the hoax proves the power of email.
"When MPs start to believe the Prime Minister has emailed them asking for suggestion of baby names, that's when you realise how powerful email is," he said.
The Register would have contacted the MPs involved to confirm that their replies were genuine but we couldn't be certain that any replies we got would be authentic either. (r)
Here's that hoax e-mail from Tony Blair and a couple of responses in full.
Sent: 17 April 2000 18:07
To: MPs email address
Subject: Memo from No.10
Dear (MPs name),
After much nagging from the children, I'm finally getting my head round this dot com mania and have acquired a very appropriate email address, I think you'll agree.
Would appreciate an email in return just to know you're all receiving me loud and clear.
PS - We are still accepting ideas for baby names, but please no more suggestions of 'Margaret' or 'Maggie', as the joke is starting to wear thin.
From : Cook Frank
To : email@example.com.
Date : 17 April 2000 19:46:35
Subject : RE: Memo from No.10
My dear Tony,
Thanks muchly for the wonderful surprise of your E-mail --- I shall recount tales of its arrival in the most dramatic terms to my greatgrandchildren (but not for some considerable time yet ).
If you're serious about names for the newcomer, how about Felisa for a girl or Felix if the male of the species. As you will know from your latin lessons it means happy --- and you and Cheri ALWAYS succeed in projecting that frame of mind. However if you prefer something more traditional, and you are able to forgive my genetic predisposition to cynicism for a moment, consider Stephen (or the feminine equivalent Stephanie) --- he was after all the first recorded Christian martyr --- and such a title may well help the newborn, when in the throes of growing, to withstand more robustly the more unwelcome forms of intrusion from the less considerate sections of the press --- which are I fear almost inevitable.
Whatever you settle on in you collective wisdom, be assured that you have our very best wishes and constant prayers for a safe and trouble free arrival ---(I dislike the term delivery -- it smacks too much of the postmans involvement).
Good luck and God bless you both -- not forgetting the blairs that arrived some years back ( don't they seek to submit nomination papers? ).
From : anne.campbell.private
To : firstname.lastname@example.org
Date : 18 April 2000 13:51:32
Subject : Re: Memo from No.10
I am delighted to hear from you in this way, which is a good deal more direct and convenient than the post. It does occur to me that I am not sure that it is from you and I wonder if you would like to go a step further and acquire a digital signature. It would be useful to do this at the time that the e-commerce bill becomes law, as then you can get your signature from an authorised British supplier.
There are Labour Party fund-raising events going on all over the country, where people are paying 50p to guess the name of the baby. As I have bought in to one or two of these I would not dare to try and influence the outcome!
I am returning the email from my private email address, which is not intercepted by my staff. This one reaches me rather more quickly.
All the best
Anne Campbell MP