What do you make of LabourList.org?

by Stephen Tall on January 12, 2009

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 independent of the party, best to ensure it’s an ex-staffer.

It’s the suspicion, though, that LabourList will be a little less than independent of the party that has generated the greatest amount of scepticism, with the right-wing blogosphere in particular pouring scorn on Draper’s project. This won’t be totally allayed by the two top stories when I visited the site: 1) Responding to the Tories’ poster campaign Gordon Brown says, which starts with the on-message line: “Gordon is right”, and 2) the first blog-post by Lord (Peter) Mandelson.

I’m more interested in the motivation for Derek Draper’s involvement. ConHome was founded with an explicit aim, stated rather inexplicitly on its website: to “champion grassroots party members and advocating a balanced, authentic conservatism” (ie, IDS-style social conservatism mainly minus the swivel-eyed loons).

Lib Dem Voice was founded to give a voice (the clue was in the name) to Lib Dem supporters and bloggers – both through the public blog, but also via the members-only forum – and has always abstained from espousing a ‘party line’, aiming to give equal prominence to all perspectives within the broad Lib Dem church. And though we regularly invite key players within the party to write for LDV, our ‘bread and butter’ – and very often the most stimulating posts – originate from ‘ordinary’ members. In this sense, our most natural blogging affinity (whatever we think of its politics some of the time) is with Liberal Conspiracy.

I’m less clear what Derek Draper’s motivation is (does he want to be Labour’s Iain Dale?), or what he’s hoping LabourList will achieve (other than the me-tooism which dictates Labour must have a blog presence to match ConHome). My suspicion is that LabourList will fall between two stools: lacking the driving ideological inspiration of ConHome, but not wanting to risk giving too too loud a voice to party members as LDV does.

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I was under the impression that Draper had rejoined the fold as of last summer.

His disgrace meant he couldn’t work in a front line capacity, so operates with the job description of ‘Labour Campaign Advisor’ instead.

Draper’s connection with the initiative indicates that it is the next step in celebrity politics – I wouldn’t be surprised if they offered Valdimir Putin a guest column.

LabourList is most definitely there to represent the leadership against the membership as far as I’m concerned. It won’t last any longer than Gordon Brown and the longer it does last the more it will hollow out the Labour party even more completely.

by Oranjepan on January 12, 2009 at 7:51 pm. Reply #

I think it shows the government’s & the Labour Party’s tiredness.

Putting them out of their misery may spark a resurgence in talent & quality of Labour thinking & writing. But the only good left-wing blogs are semi-detatched or outright oppositionists.

I didn’t go to LabourHome & I won’t be going there.

I do, however, enjoy visiting ConHome. Tim Montgomerie makes a tit of himself with thinking he’s an American, but only rarely, & I like the comments threads.

by asquith on January 12, 2009 at 8:00 pm. Reply #

It shows their paucity that they simply cannot do blogging properly. I don’t think this is a permanent state of affairs, it’s just they’ve been in government too long & have too many turgid careerists & ringlickers in their ranks.

This brings us back to the very interesting theme of what the blogosphere would look like under a Conservative government…

by asquith on January 12, 2009 at 8:02 pm. Reply #

yes, i enjoy some of the Tory blogs too. I think it maybe underlines something i was told years ago – we can be comfortable with the progressive side of Labour policy (this was years ago, mind…) but we’d much rather have a bunch of tories around for dinner!

by john on January 12, 2009 at 8:46 pm. Reply #

It depends on which Labour & which Tories, really! There are more than a few right-wingers I wouldn’t touch with a bargepole. I’ll have to compile my imaginary dinner party. It would be a fairly mixed bag of opinions, but all intelligent & good company. 🙂

by asquith on January 12, 2009 at 8:53 pm. Reply #

A grassroots alternative to LabourList has launched today. LABOURIST.org has the same content (which Derek kindly agrees to share) but without the heavy handed comment moderation. We welcome open and lively debate from everyone, not just the Labour-minded.

by The Editor on January 16, 2009 at 5:55 pm. Reply #

Newscounter has conducted an initial evaluation of Labourlist and found that the site is outperforming most people’s expectations: http://bacatu.blogspot.com/2009/02/labourlist-on-course-to-be-top.html

by Matthew Cain on February 23, 2009 at 10:14 pm. Reply #

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