Tag Archives: derek draper

LabourList, meet the Electoral Commission; Electoral Commission meet LabourList

Who exactly is funding LabourList? That’s the question which is beginning to be asked in the wake of ‘Smeargate’, in which Gordon Brown’s chief spin-doctor, Damian McBride, conspired with the website’s founding editor Derek Draper to defame various Tory figures.

It’s a question of keen interest to us here at Lib Dem Voice. We’re an independent website run by a volunteer collective of seven party members, including one (departing) member of the party’s Cowley Street staff. Our running costs are – just about – covered through a combination of advertising revenue and those readers who are kind enough to donate to LDV.

Back in October, as we discussed inviting donations, I checked the site’s position with the Electoral Commission in order to ensure that our understanding of the law was still in line with the Commission’s:

In order to ensure that we do not run into any compliance issues either as our financial activities grow or as a general election nears, we would be grateful for guidance from the Electoral Commission:

1. Under what, if any, circumstances would donations to Liberal Democrat Voice be covered by the legislation regarding permissibility and declaration of donations?
2. Under what, if any, circumstances would our activity be regarded as campaign activity that would then be regulated either as third party activity or as part of the Liberal Democrats?
3. Are there any other issues which you wish to draw our attention to that are not covered by the previous questions?

The full reply I received from the Electoral Commission is printed at the foot of this article*, but here’s the crucial part:

Thank you for your email asking for some advice on whether or not Lib Dem Voice is covered by donation controls. From what you have said, I think that it is. This is because groups whose membership consists wholly or mainly of members of a particular registered party are ‘members associations’ under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA).

Which begs the question: does the Electoral Commission think that LabourList (an organisation mainly, if not totally, run by Labour Party members) should also be covered by these same donation controls?

Assuming the answer is yes, then we shouldn’t have long to wait to find out who the main backers are of LabourList – any donations over £5,000 in cash or in kind from the same source must be reported to the Electoral Commission within 30 days of LabourList accepting them. (In the case of several smaller donations, e.g. monthly provision of office or IT services in kind, then they become declarable when the total value in the year hits £5,000.)

Indeed, given LabourList has been going for more than 30 days, then any donations, such as initial donations of money or provision of IT services for free, should have been declared by now and one would expect them to have appeared on the Electoral Commission’s website already.

(The timescale for declaring donations to members associations is different from donations to parties. Parties have to declare their donations each quarter, and they are then published shortly afterwards by the Electoral Commission. Donations to members associations, whether cash or in kind, have to be declared and should then be published, on a much quicker timescale.)

I’ve submitted an inquiry to the Electoral Commission to confirm my understanding of the rules. Perhaps then we’ll find out who LabourList really has received largesse from?

In the interests of balance, I should add that I would assume ConservativeHome is also covered by the same Electoral Commission rules. It is a matter of public record that the site is owned by Stephan Shakespeare (though you have to search some to find this information in the About ConHome section of the site). I can, as yet, find no references to his presumably pretty hefty ongoing donations to ConservativeHome – including paying for two full-time members of staff – on the Electoral Commission’s website.

For the record, I should note that Lib Dem Voice has yet to receive a donation large enough to necessitate us to trouble the Electoral Commission. But there’s always a first time if you fancy putting our skills to the test. 🙂

* Full text of email from Electoral Commission follows:

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 8 Comments

‘Smeargate’: That Was The Easter Weekend That Was

I know it’s the Westminster Village story de jour, but I’m finding it very hard to work up motivation to blog on what is being portentously dubbed ‘Smeargate’, Labour’s cretinous attempts to stick the boot into the Tories.

Damian McBride, the author of the emails slurring his opponents, has deservedly lost his job (hard to believe, by the way, he’s 34 – if ever there were a walking advertisement for not becoming Gordon Brown’s media-bitch, it’s Damian). Derek Draper limps on as the public face of LabourList.org, reduced to empty exhortations for “the whole blogosphere, right and left, to …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 5 Comments

Michael White on the McBride affair

Michael White writes:

The murky underworld of sleaze and gossip which permeates the backdoor politics – and most walks of life where power, money, or the lack of it, matter – existed before the internet was invented or McBride got involved.

It will continue to thrive in his absence, only much faster than generations ago. Then a prime minister of the day (Harold Macmillan) could be cuckolded by a Tory colleague for decades or another prime minister’s (Harold Wilson) political secretary could have two children (by a political journalist) without most of us knowing anything about it.

The net has changed all that.

Posted in News and Online politics | Also tagged | 3 Comments

Damian McBride, Derek Draper and the smears against Tories

The Telegraph has reported:

Row as Number 10 emails ‘smear Tories’
The emails, which made a number of unfounded, innuendo-laden suggestions about the private lives of David Cameron, George Osborne and other Conservative MPs, came into the possession of Paul Staines, who writes the Guido Fawkes political blog…

The prospect of publication alarmed ministers, who feared that they would be accused of orchestrating a smear campaign against senior Tory figures. Some of the emails made lurid claims about Mr Cameron, the Tory leader, and Mr Osborne, the shadow chancellor.

However, there appears to be a degree of trying to spike the story …

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 8 Comments

Video: LDV, ConHome and LabourList debate online campaigning

Lib Dem Voice’s Mark Pack, ConservativeHome’s Jonathan Isaby and LabourList’s Derek Draper discussed online campaigning in a Hansard Society event held in Parliament yesterday.

The event was chaired by Dr Laura Miller from the Hansard Society eDemocracy programme.

From the Society’s website:

This event discussed the use of online strategies and their increasing importance, encouragement of grass-roots activism and ability to enable mass mobilisation. But there is no guarantee that the cooption of online strategies will guarantee electoral success or promote healthy dialogue between politicians and citizens.

You can watch the video here.

Posted in Online politics and Site news | Also tagged , , and | 2 Comments

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

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 15 Comments

What’s Labour’s internet operation like?

Two reviews out today. One from Christine Bennett in The Observer:

Although a commitment to democratic engagement with the online public is now compulsory for any party official, LabourList’s fondness for joyless affirmations of party solidarity, along with official reports on the modern equivalent of tractor production and Draper’s corrections of perceived thought crimes, can easily make it appear, to visitors from the free world, to have less in common with Obama’s style of civic engagement than with Vladimir Putin’s…

On each new, Obama-inspired Labour website, there is a patch of nothing where a picture of the party leader should go. Up

Posted in Online politics | Also tagged and | 1 Comment

How should you moderate blog comments?

When I talk to elected politicians, trying to persuade them of the virtues of becoming a blogger, the two most common concerns are, “how much time will it take?” and “why do I want to do something that will attract lots of eccentric or rude comments?”

The first is absolutely a sensible question to think about – blogging well takes time and you should know what you’re getting yourself in to. The fears behind the second though are often exaggerated or misplaced. In part I think this is because some of the most high profile political blogs have a very relaxed attitude to allowing through all sorts of comments, but not every blog has to be like that.

Coming up with a sensible moderation policy for comments is a wise move: if you don’t yet have a blog, it can help reassure you that comments can play a useful role without the drawbacks you fear, and if you do have a blog, deciding what rules to follow will help make your moderation sensible and consistent – always a good idea, especially if you are making swift spur of the moment decisions late at night! (Getting it wrong can also result in a new blog getting off to a shaky start, as the fuss over Derek Draper’s moderation policies on LabourList demonstrates.)

So what should your moderation policy cover?

Posted in Online politics | Also tagged and | 5 Comments

Is LabourList a new form of daytime TV?

I’ve been scratching my head trying to work out what Derek Draper is up to with the new LabourList site – and I think the answer lies with daytime TV.

I start from the view that (a) it is clearly a major part of Labour’s online strategy, and therefore of interest to anyone interested in politics and the internet, (b) some of the other people involved are people whose skills I rate, even if their political views are a little misguided (!), and (c) Derek Draper has plenty experience of politics and so, all in all, one should have an open …

Posted in Online politics | Also tagged | 2 Comments

LabourList and Labourist: same content, different rules

Inspired? Bizarre? Welcome embrace of the relaxed approach to reusing content that Web 2.0 should in part be about? Or the sort of stuff that gives political blogging a bad name? You decide…

Derek Draper’s LabourList site has come in for a fair amount of plaudits and brickbats, which given his controversial Labour history and the site’s high profile PR campaign is perhaps no surprise. In amongst these arguments have been comments about its moderating style.

And so, enter Labourist (note the missing L), which was mentioned in a comment posted here:

A grassroots alternative to LabourList has launched today. LABOURIST.org

Posted in Online politics | Also tagged | 17 Comments

What do you make of LabourList.org?

LabourList – self-consciously branded by its founder, Derek Draper, as Labour’s answer to ConservativeHome – officially went live today, earning generous press coverage (in terms of column inches, if not warmth of reception).

So, what do we make of it so far?

It’s interesting that, as was true of both ConHome (with Tim Montgomerie) and LDV (with Rob Fenwick) when first launched, it’s a former party staffer who’s set up LabourList: perhaps not surprisingly, a certain amount of insider-knowledge is pretty useful when establishing a must-read party site. Even less surprisingly, if you want it to be seen as …

Posted in News, Online politics and Site news | Also tagged , , , , and | 7 Comments

Labour accused of setting up anonymous Tory attack blog

Dizzy Thinks has the story and evidence:

I can reveal that this site has indeed been set-up by someone heavily linked with Derek Draper. Adrian McMenamin, a former Downing Street advisor and the man that headed up Labour’s rapid rebuttal Excalibur system prior to 1997 appears to be behind the site. What’s more, his attempts to hide it were not quite good enough.

Full story on his blog here.

As for the blog in question, it’s worth noting the, er…, interesting choice of some attack material. For example, under the headline David Cameron’s cynical abuse of Parliament, we get the news …

Posted in Online politics | Also tagged and | 4 Comments

Recent Comments

  • Martin Gray
    Centrist governments support the rules of international order. Sadly , when it comes to the Palestine those rules , those values , have all but been abandoned...
  • Peter Hirst
    For all its faults, America remains a democracy and we must retain our links. Brexit allows us to show flexibility in our strategic relations. We must now allow...
  • David Raw
    As a long time student of political history who first joined (and was employed by) the Liberal Party way back in 1962, I've come to believe that the basic quali...
  • Peter Hirst
    Putting country before party seems to me to be quite apposite in the context of the last decade. The Party system is a weakness of our present structures. It is...
  • Peter Hirst
    If we really wish to change this country then we must have an eye for the next election. Many new MPs will want to retain their seats. We must win the popular d...