Battle lines were drawn over the youth vote yesterday after the UBP revealed plans to run an aggressive election campaign on website YouTube.

The UBP's campaign will begin in earnest within the next week with a "satirical" advert aimed directly at Premier Ewart Brown, the Sun has learned.

And in a direct nod to the youth vote, the advert will air first on YouTube before being edited down for TV.

It means YouTube is set to be a key battleground during the run-up to the election. With margins in many seats so tight, it's conceivable that young people could influence the outcome of the election.

The PLP has already embraced YouTube, posting more than 50 short videos to promote the party.

Premier Brown used the social networking website to announce the date of the election. He is thought to be the first leader in the world to do so.

Now the UBP appears keen to catch up. The party plans to "flood the zone" with YouTube videos, a party spokesman said yesterday.

One of the first videos is expected to be the satire of Ewart Brown, which the spokesman said will be "explosive" and "like nothing Bermuda has ever seen".

"It would be fair to call the advert Premier-based and satirical," the spokesman said. "The advert will be outrageously funny and we expect it to be a big hit.

"That's just one of the Internet videos that will appear in coming days and weeks. We are going to be very prominent on YouTube.

"We are aware that this sort of thing can have a huge impact among the younger generation. There is a whole generation for whom YouTube is a way of life."

The UBP said other forthcoming Internet clips would include party leader Michael Dunkley's formal reaction to Dr. Brown's election announcement.

In the past six days the party has already posted three videos advertising the party's manifesto and the views of its candidates.

YouTube is most commonly known by the youth of the world as the place where they can post videos of themselves on drunken nights out.

Millions also use the website to share favourite TV clips and home-made music videos. The website's use in politics marks a radical change in the way election campaigns are fought and reflects a desire among politicians to connect with young voters.

The PLP has stolen a march on the use of the YouTube, with 53 videos currently available to view, most of which are also linked to the party's official website. Some clips have proved popular, with more than 1,500 people viewing Dr Brown's election announcement since it was posted earlier this month.

Other videos have attracted less attention - the recording of a recent press briefing by minister Patrice Minors has been viewed by just seven people.

The PLP's growing use of YouTube may reflect the party's belief that it is falling behind in the race for young votes.

In August, a street poll by the Sun found that just 10 per cent of 18-25s were strongly behind Dr Brown, with 60 per cent leaning heavily against him.

However, the PLP said yesterday that its YouTube videos were not aimed solely at the youth market. A spokesman for the party said: "Bermuda has one of the highest percentage of Internet users in the world. We want to connect to all people, young and old, and the Internet is a great tool to allow us to do that.

"Grandmothers use the Internet just the same as students and teenagers.

"In coming weeks we will continue our use of the Internet as a means of opening up politics to all."

However, Geoff Rothwell, lecturer in sociology at Bermuda College, said: "The majority of YouTube users are young so this looks like to me a very deliberate attempt to engage with the youth vote.

"Also, posting videos makes a party look like it is up to date, a part of the 21st Century and not stuck in the past.

"Times change. Once upon a time TV was the brand-new way to reach out to voters. No party can afford to ignore the technology available.

"The PLP has stolen a march on the use of YouTube, but I'm not surprised to see the UBP running to catch up.

"On a personal note, though, I hope this doesn't replace the traditional modes of campaigning. Bermuda is unique in that candidates still come knocking at every door. People still like to meet their candidates face to face, not just through a computer screen."