Saturday, 10 January 2009

LabourList: Learning to let go online?

As is well known, the blogosphere likes doing nothing quite so much as talking about itself. So among the political talking points of the weekend - even ahead of the return of Alan Milburn to Team GB - is the launch next week, of (currently soft launched) with Derek Draper as editor in chief of what is billed as a Labour challenge to ConservativeHome.

There was much online hilarity a few months ago at the idea of Derek Draper running a 'rapid rebuttal unit' to correct the internet. As it happens, that story (I think initially in PR Week) arose from a complete misreading of what Draper had said at a fringe meeting put together by the Fabians, Liberal Conspiracy and LabourHome last Autumn. (Jim Pickard of the FT, among the panellists, also refers back to this today).

But what struck me most about that event - and my Next Left liveblog from it captures some of this - was that Draper's argument shifted and loosened up considerably over the course of the event, partly in response to contributions from the other panelists and also Tom Harris, David Lammy and others from the floor.

There is a tension in affiliated, or independent but semi-official efforts. The widespread assumption is there will be a top down, control freak mentality: that it will be an essentially in-house effort, indistinguishable from the output of party HQ.

But that would fail.

You can hear from The Observer's report that those involved recognise that. If that is followed through, then the initial scepticism may be a blessing in disguise, for they will have the chance to exceed expectations.

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