Saturday, 18 April 2009

Has Labour finally cracked the internet?

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.


Dave B said...

I like that they have nested comments. ConHome take note!

Stuart Dickson said...

I must admit that I have only ever visited the Labour Home blog on one occasion. I used to be a voracious consumer of blogs (in 2004-2006), but I lost interest (except of course for

The LH post I read was this one:

The leader of the SNP will always portray him or herself as the leader of a party and potentially a nation.

The leader of the Scottish Labour Party on the other hand will always be subsidiary to Westminster and isn't even the second most important person in the Labour Party.

The solution would be to have an independent Scottish Labour Party with its own structure and constitution and its own policies.

It is a goodie. I recommend the investment of 15-20 minutes in this article and its thread, if Scottish politics (and the future unity of the United KIngdom) are of interest to you.

Bardirect said...

Well we now know that someone has broken into the postal ballots and torn them up.

Are we to attribute this to the power of LabourHome or should this post be on "Channel 1" listed under the piracy item?

Plato said...

Ditto - looks more pertinent than Pirate Bay and Somalia!

wibbler said...

Good on LabourHome. They are an excellent site.

If only they could get a server which doesn't break down every day!