The former Downing Street comms director has been reported as ‘returning to the front line’ on Labour’s Go Fourth website amid speculation that Gordon Brown’s chances in the next general election have begun to flatline.
But Campbell said: ‘It is not the case, as some of the press have said, that I am leading Labour’s online fightback.’
He claimed to be ‘devoting maybe half an hour each day to this’, adding that the web was attractive because it offered a ‘livelier and more open debate about politics than most of our mass media are able to deliver’.
‘I freely admit to being a late convert to a lot of this,’ said Campbell, who was voted Downing Street’s most effective PR operator of recent years in October’s PRWeek straw poll (PRWeek, 10 October 2008).
Campbell’s comments come in a week when Tory new media experts have rounded on the Labour Party’s recent online efforts, first revealed in PRWeek (16 January).
Tory bloggers ridiculed the Labour Party for ‘spamming’ them to provide links in their blogs to Labour’s discussion forum and not providing an ‘unsubscribe’ option.
Tory commentator Iain Dale has also dubbed new site LabourList ‘disappointing’, adding John Prescott was the only Labour politician who truly understood the internet.
Campbell responded: ‘The whole point about online political and campaigning activity is that you will provoke responses from all sides of the argument. That [criticism] misses the point, which is that in a world defined by the pace of change, politics and political communication is changing fast too, and the parties and political leaders have to be alive to that.’
Comments on Labour's web strategy
Iain Dale, pointing out an error-laden email: ‘On the day LabourList was trum-peting an article by Alastair Campbell, it sent out this email to its entire list.’
Fraser Nelson on the Spectator blog: 'Although it hasn't been going long,
LabourList is already brightening up the blogosphere.'
Guido Fawkes: ‘Derek Draper’s online skills are clearly not going to win Labour any votes.’
Colin Byrne on Byrne Baby Byrne: 'Firstly congrats to my old friend Derek Draper on the launch of Labourlist.org. Leaving political preferences aside, it is good to see Labour getting increasingly serious about digital alongside the Tories.'
Justin McKeating on Chickyog.net: ‘Any other bloggers out there getting emails from Labour New Media Task Force? I am being spammed by Labour!’