It's well known that MPs deal in 'virtual' reality instead of cold hard facts, but now the Labour Party has gone one step further and allowed itself to be digitised for Second Life.

From 8am this morning, the event, known as Public Sector 2.0, was hosted by Microsoft and the Social Market Foundation think tank.

This was a first of its kind in the UK, although the US has conducted similar online conferences.

Holding the fringe event in Second Life theoretically allows the general public to have its say in what is normally a private meeting between minister, businessmen and conference participants.

A desire to be open

Speaking about the event that kicks off today's party conference in Manchester, Dorothea Hodge, Director of Events and Conferences at the Social Market Foundation, said:

"We are delighted to be the first ever political organisation to open up our event in Second Life. Running a discussion in this format allows us to include people who can not travel to Manchester, or who were not able to get a pass into the conference centre.

"It reflects our desire to be open, inclusive and promote debate. We hope significant numbers of people will use this new innovative platform to share their views with the Minister."