Tag Archives: LabourList

Bloggers unite to oppose “botched late-night drafting” that proposes new press/web regulation

I’m one of 17 signatories (on behalf of LibDemVoice) to a letter published in Saturday’s Guardian, reproduced below, which opposes the “fundamental threat” of the draft legislation approved this week by MPs of all parties which would regulate blogs and other small independent news websites.

It’s not often you’ll see us, ConservativeHome, LabourList, Guido Fawkes, Liberal Conspiracy and Political Scrapbook agree on something. But what we term the “botched late-night drafting process and complete lack of consultation” has, for once, brought us together. And, as the letter notes, perhaps even more remarkably got Tom Watson and Rupert Murdoch agreeing, too.

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Lords reform: did we really expect any better of either the Tories or Labour?

All three main political parties fought the 2010 election promising the electorate that, if elected, they would reform the House of Lords. All three promised the same in 2005, too. And 2001. Yet in 2012 only one party is staying true to that promise: the Lib Dems. The Tories and Labour, in contrast, are happily indulging in party politics to block progress in advancing legislative democracy.

The Conservatives living up to their anti-reform name…

The Conservative Party has fought the last three elections promising to introduce a mainly/wholly elected second chamber to replace the current House of Patronage. They signed up …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , , , , and | 25 Comments

LabourList readers: scrap personal privacy over your income

LabourList has been running a series of posts based on a good idea – asking people to propose policy ideas that don’t cost money, under the banner ‘What’s Labour about when there’s no money left?’.

I was, ahem, a bit underwhelmed then to read one of the ideas – to strip away personal privacy from everyone and publish all income tax returns in full. Somewhat surprised, too, to find that former Labour MP, and when I’ve come across him in the past good egg, Alf Dubs was proposing the idea – his argument being that publishing figures in full would cut …

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Memo to LabourList’s Paul Richards… Feel free to keep obsessing. It’ll lose you the next election.

I think it’s safe to assume that LabourList’s Paul Richards is not Nick Clegg’s greatest fan.

What prompts me to leap to this conclusion? Well, I guess if you headline your article profiling the Lib Dem leader ‘A snivelling, venal, ruthless social climber’ you’re making some kind of statement.

I’d highly recommend reading Paul’s post in full if only to gain an appreciation of the impotent fury, this red mist, which is clouding the Labour party’s judgment. Here’s a flavour:

Some make the mistake of saying that the reason why Clegg so naturally fits into a Tory government is because he

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 20 Comments

Fact Check factchecks the Fact Check quoters

Oops. Bit of, err…, over exuberance over on Labour List who ran the story:

Deficit caused by economic crisis, says Channel 4…
The Tories have spent most of the past year trying to establish a media narrative that says Labour are to blame for the deficit. Once they had acheived that, it was just a small step to argue that “austerity” was needed to fix problems “caused by Labour”. So it’s pleasing that Miliband’s defence of Labour’s economic record has been so swiftly vindicated by the respected Channel 4 factcheck.

There was one slight problem, as the update to the post reveals:


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Labour members attack party’s “Daily Mail view of the world”

Another day, another nail in the coffin of liberalism in the Labour Party. Sadiq Khan, the party’s shadow justice secretary, today amped-up the debate on votes for prisoners by condemnIng the Coalition’s proposals as — POPULIST CLICHE ALERT — “a slap in the face for victims of crime”.

But his pandering to the forces of authoritarian conservatism hasn’t gone down well with all Labour members. Over at LabourList, Kevin Peel has an excellent post criticising Mr Khan’s outburst, pointing out that no matter what you think of the decision the UK was under a legal obligation following a …

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Abolition of Parliament: it was wrong then and it’s wrong now

Back when Tony Blair was Prime Minister Labour tried to get through Parliament sweeping powers to change the law without requiring full Parliamentary scrutiny. Then Liberal Democrat MP David Howarth was one of those who led the charge against this, writing in The Times:

The Government proposed an extraordinary Bill that will drastically reduce parliamentary discussion of future laws, a Bill some constitutional experts are already calling “the Abolition of Parliament Bill”.

A couple of journalists noticed, including Daniel Finkelstein of The Times, and a couple more pricked up their ears last week when I highlighted some biting academic criticism of the

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Shouldn’t Labour MPs just nominate the candidate they think is best for the job?

I’ve been intrigued these past couple of days to see the main Labour blogs fall over themselves to argue that the current three front-runners for the Labour leadership – now they have the MP nominations needed to be on the ballot – should urge their parliamentary colleagues to nominate one of the three also-ran contenders to ensure “the widest possible field of candidates in the leadership election”.

I can understand the principle behind the campaign, of course. Frankly, if I were in the shoes of a Labour member (as I was for a number of years), I …

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What does the future hold for British political blogging?

Predictions that the next general election will be the one in which the internet will make a huge impact have regularly come and gone. Post-Obama ready yourself for another such clutch of predictions, but underneath this punditry froth the internet has got on with quietly shifting the way politics works. It’s been more at the unglamorous organisational end (imagine trying to organise a campaign without email) than at the eye-catching systems-shattering dramatic end beloved of pundits, but it’s been a major change nonetheless.

Following in the footsteps of email, blogging has also established a firm place in the logistics of politics, even if its impact on the overall style and conduct of politics is less clear and less dramatic. Blogs have become a key news medium for people involved in or significantly interested in politics, they have become a key part of the flow of news to and from journalists and for some MPs and candidates they reach local audiences large enough to be a significant factor in their election efforts.

Posted in Online politics | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , and | 5 Comments

48 hours left to vote in the Total Politics top blogs poll

Click here to vote in the Total Politics Best Blogs Poll 2009

Yes, that’s right folks, you have until midnight this Friday to cast your votes in the Total Politics poll of Top 10 favourite blogs. This year, the poll is being co-promoted by Lib Dem Voice, LabourList and Iain Dale’s Diary.

For full details and rules, please see our previous LDV posting. Then email your Top Ten Favourite Blogs to [email protected]

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[email protected]: Nick Clegg – While the Conservatives try to appear gay-friendly, they now stand shoulder with march-banning bigots

Over at LabourList, Nick Clegg pens a powerful post in favour of the strides taken in recent years to enshrine equal rights for gay people. Here’s an excerpt:

Like many people, in 1997 I hoped that with the right cast into the political wilderness a permanent victory for gay rights was in sight. But discrimination still lingers in the statute book, and homophobia still festers in homes, offices and classrooms. Gay rights, like all minority rights, should by now have become unquestionable. But in practice they are still too often treated like privileges, falling in and out of favour with politicians.

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged and | 19 Comments

Labourlist: more trouble at mill?

Readers will recall that we broadly stayed out of the whole Draper/McBride/Dale/Guido blog war on this  site.

This wasn’t so much deliberate choice as an undiscussed humdrum content decision, since there wasn’t even a bit part for a Liberal Democrat anywhere in the whole affair, and we try not to blog about blogging too much. So any coverage we did offer would have largely been of the popcorn-and-laughter variety. Folk who read here would know where to go to get their Drapergate fix; we were in no way best placed to deliver it.

But we did

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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:

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‘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

LabourList says accurately quoting TheyWorkForYou = “blatant lies”

TheyWorkForYou says of John Leech, Lib Dem MP for Manchester Withington, “Voted strongly for laws to stop climate change” (source).

John Leech put out a leaflet saying he voted for climate change laws. Fair enough you might think. After all, that claim is backed up by a widely-respected independent website which bases its descriptions of MPs’ voting records directly on the official Hansard voting records.

But LabourList’s response?

To pick up on the leaflet:

In it he claims to have voted for “Climate Change Laws”

And to say of this claim (and one other in the leaflet) that this is a case of:


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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

How David Lammy has exaggerated the BNP’s popularity

In a posting today on LabourList, David Lammy has talked up the popularity of the BNP by misquoting and misinterpreting evidence about how many people visit their website.

The MP for Tottenham wrote:

it attracts more than half of all internet traffic to political party sites, according to the online monitoring firm Hitwise.

But that’s not true.

I think what has happened here is that the popularity of the bnp.org.uk domain compared with conservatives.com, labour.org.uk, libdems.org.uk and so on has been confused with “all internet traffic to political party sites”. (Thanks to Hitwise for confirming to me that looking at just these …

Posted in News and Online politics | Also tagged , and | 17 Comments

LDV, ConHome and DraperList go head-to-head (ish)

LDV’s Mark Pack will be speaking alongside ConservativeHome‘s Jonathan Isaby and LabourList‘s Derek Draper on 24th March at an event organised by the Hansard Society entitled, The Online Campaign – solution or smokescreen? Details below and at the Society’s website.

Tuesday 24 March, 10am, House of Commons, Westminster.

The use of online strategies is becoming increasingly important, encouraging grass-roots activism and enabling 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.This eDemocracy event will gather the leading thinkers on this subject to discuss

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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

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Early voting: why did we bother spending years (and lots of money) on piloting it?

For several years, the idea of letting people vote in person ahead of polling day (e.g. at the Town Hall or in a local shopping centre) was tested out in a range of different British elections. Lots of time and money went on the tests, all of which came up with the same answer: it makes almost no difference to turnout, and the money that it takes up could have gone on other measures which would have been just as good, if not better, at raising turnout (e.g. general publicity campaigns reminding pepole to vote).

The pilots themselves went on long …

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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

When is a new website not a new website?

Bizarre is probably the best word for it.

You see, earlier today Ed Miliband proudly “launched” the LabourSpace website. Now I thought this all seemed a bit familiar, and indeed on checking I found Alex Hilton (of LabourHome and Recess Monkey) was writing about the site having been launched back in November 2006. So not really so much of a launch today if it was actually launched 26 months ago?

Ah, but you might say, perhaps the launch 26 months ago was a beta and today is the final version. Er, no. Because post-“launch” the site still producly calls itself …

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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

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