It's become a set part of the received wisdom of UK politics that Labour simply does not "get" the internet - that it has simply failed to grasp the way that blogging works with the result that efforts to get involved have appeared cack-handed and ineffective. That might just be changing and this is happening bottom-up and not top down which is the normal way the party operated.
There's been a big row going on in the Labour party over the selection of a PPC for the ultra-safe south-east London seat of Erith and Crayside. The issue has been a high powered campaign to secure the slot for one of the candidates on the all-women short-list, 22 year Georgia Gould daughter of Philip Gould, one of the architects of NuLab.
Last night the party postponed the selection so it could investigate allegations of vote-rigging.
What's interesting here is not whether Ms Gould gets the opportunity or not but the role that the Labour website that isn't LabourList, LabourHome has played.For it's been this site that's played a key role in highlighting a lot of the issues surrounding the selection and has provided a forum that has been the platform for much of the activist anger. This surely is how credible websites linked to political parties should be.
The move reminds me of what happened in the Tory party in 2005 when the then leader, Michael Howard, tried to change the rules on leadership elections to reduce the power of the membership at large. Out of the resulting internal squabble came ConservativeHome which is as powerful a site as it is today precisely because it is NOT part of the party machine.
Could we see the same now with LabourHome? Has the Erith and Crayside selection given it a crediblity with the movement as a whole that LabourList never managed?
Whether this is appreciated by the control freaks who run the party I don't know but I have little doubt that a strong grass roots site is absolutely central if Labour is to compete. This latest incident suggests something it happening. Well done LabourHome. Well done Alex Hilton - its founder.