Labour web debate rumbles on

Tensions over the Labour Party's new media strategy spilled out into the open this week as top Labour bloggers questioned whether the party's internet offensive was moving in the right direction.

GoFourth shot: Prescott’s ‘authentic’ campaign website
GoFourth shot: Prescott’s ‘authentic’ campaign website

A number of Labour new media experts told PRWeek that there needed to be a gre­ater focus on reaching out to people beyond the Westminster village.

It follows numerous spats between LabourList editor Derek Draper and right-wing bloggers such as Iain Dale and Guido Fawkes.

The LabourList website is the most prominent – alt­hough not the only – aspect of Labour’s new media strategy to emerge so far.

Labour insiders commended Draper for securing ‘buy-in’ from senior party figures (see below). But they also suggested he had placed too much emphasis on dealing with fellow politicos.

Alex Hilton, co-founder of the LabourHome blog and PRWeek columnist, said: ‘Pol­itical blogs are not the answer. We will have been successful when we get Andy Burnham commenting on knitting blogs, which have far more readers than political blogs. Go to where the people are, do not try to get the people where you are. But Derek does not yet understand that.’

Jag Singh, fellow co-foun­der of LabourHome and one of the few UK players with deep experience of working on US campaigns, said: ‘We are making great strides, but I think we have work to do before we get close to the Holy Grail – where we humanise Lab­our’s brand and engage on a meaningful level.

'The best del­ivery has been by John Prescott’s GoFourth project. It is authentic, funny, and engages with both Lab­our voters and on-the-fence sitters alike. Most importantly, it reaches beyond the Westminster village.’

Labour blogger Stuart Bruce said: ‘The way it's happened isn't the way I would have done it. But a lot of people throwing flack at this don't understand the sheer difficulty in getting a project like this off the ground in the first place.'

Bruce called for a greater focus on ‘the tiny blogs that the local councillor does'. He said: ‘That's the space where it's all to play for.'

Click here to see related article: Draper and many bloggers defend strategy

Timeline

12 February Draper attacks The Guardian’s David Hencke

5 February Draper begins ongoing spat with blogger Iain Dale

29 January Labour launches second part of the new media strategy: an Obama-style virtual phone bank

24 January GoFourth website launched by John Prescott to campaign for fourth term

10 January Soft launch of the first part of the new media strategy: LabourList website

5 January Labour’s five-stage new media strategy is outlined in a memo sent to Labour party general secretary Ray Collins and seen by PRWeek

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