Derek Draper, LabourList and all that stuff

I’ve not blogged about some of the latest to-ings and fro-ings over Derek Draper and LabourList as plenty of other people have covered the topic, but this post in particular from a former Labour insider is worth highlighting. I think he underestimates a bit the scope for the internet to make an impact on British politics, but his analysis is thoughtful and measured:

It’s taken thirty-six years but last week it finally happened. I found myself – however I might wish for it to be otherwise – agreeing with an article in the Daily Mail. It was a stingingly accurate critique of the Labourlist group blog which has been online for a while now but was “launched” last Thursday.

Labourlist is not something that I’d normally spare much thought about. I’ve been happy to drift away from the day-to-day dogfights of British politics since I stood down as a Special Adviser at the 2001 General Election in an effort to reclaim my life and start up some of my own projects. But I have found something sickly compelling about the way Labourlist has unfolded into a tragi-comedy that reveals more than it should about the troubled relationship the Labour Party has with the internet.

You can read the full piece – and it’s well worth a read – here. It’s also interesting to note that in the comments, Alex Hilton of Recess Monkey / Labour Home agrees with the analysis.

Amusing side-point: Jack Thurston did actually study at Berkeley, not just in Berkeley (this at/in thing has been one of the controversies surrounding Derek Draper).

PS Derek: if you’re reading this, here’s a free tip. When you receive a letter from someone, does them lapsing into CAPITAL LETTERS AT VARIOUS POINTS make you think (a) crikey, that really makes the point powerfully, or (b) I wonder if they’d be using green ink if they were handwriting this? Now look at some of your own headlines…

UPDATE: Dizzy Thinks has a nice line in satire today too.

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  • Chris Keating 16th Feb '09 - 12:12pm

    Derek Draper can’t be a very good psychotherapist if he still has all these anger issues…

  • The more I think about this, the more I think that Draper is doing a good job. He is all that Iain Dale and Guido can talk about at the moment.

    His deliberate attempt to go for Guido on the racist stuff in his comments actually riled Guido (and Iain). The problem Labour have always had is that they’ve been too timid.

    The fact that Draper might be coming across badly is irrelevant I think.

    Just a thought, could be wrong. But there’s a part of me that thinks Draper is not being as stupid as Iain Dale and Guido think he is.

    I’m a Lib Dem btw.

  • “I think he underestimates a bit the scope for the internet to make an impact on British politics, but his analysis is thoughtful and measured …”

    He’s not actually sceptical about the impact of the Internet in general – more about the specific impact of bloggers:
    “The big political blogs might occupy the minds of the political classes and very occasionally break new stories but they don’t turn elections. The vast majority of people who read political blogs are as far from being floating voters as it’s possible to be.

    Labour should forget about trying to win the battle of the blogs. It’s probably a lost cause and anyway I’m not convinced it matters in terms of winning elections.”

    I know bloggers aren’t going to like that point of view, but looking at the numbers it’s difficult to argue with it.

    Your latest “statporn” article boasts that LDV had 23,696 unique visitors in January. That may sound a lot, but it equates to only 3 dozen people per UK constituency – a fraction of the average FOCUS round, in fact.

    And it’s a good point that many of the visitors already have pretty strong political views of one colour or another. When was the last time you read a post on LDV by someone you thought was genuinely undecided about which party they supported?

  • Mark

    But if you read what I quoted, it was addressing the issue of whether blogs “turn elections”. Obviously they don’t, if they’re read by only a few dozen people in each constituency.

    Of course you can flatter yourself – and your audience – with the idea that the small minority who do read blogs are disproportionately influential people, so that the blogosphere may still be having a significant influence on the shape of the political debate. In fact, I suspect they’re mostly bored people in offices with the odd half-hour to kill. But still, it’s all good clean fun …

  • Squirrel Nutkin 16th Feb '09 - 2:36pm

    “..all good clean fun…”?

    In the Staines(Fawkes)-Draper muck-wrestling contest we are being asked to decide precedence between a louse and a flea.

  • “Blogging’s power isn’t in that, but it can be a powerful indirect route to that.”

    But what’s the evidence that blogging has any significant influence – direct or indirect?

    I’m afraid political bloggers tend to get so wrapped up in their own little sphere that they sometimes mistake it for the real world, which – by and large – isn’t listening.

  • Ok. Well, there’s nothing wrong with being optimistic – provided you keep both feet on the ground and don’t get too carried away with the idea that cabinet ministers may be hanging on your every electronic word.

    But I do think it’s a mistake to get so blog-obsessed that “the internet” becomes synonymous with “the blogosphere”. After all, that article by Jack Thurston does emphasise the importance of the parties keeping in contact with their supporters by email. That’s part of the Internet too, even if it doesn’t offer quite the same opportunities for ego-tripping.

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