An initial meeting of Labour-supporting bloggers and political campaigners took place last week, almost two months after PRWeek first revealed the party was exploring how to reignite the Labour blogosphere (PRWeek, 26 September).
The meeting was chaired by former lobbyist Derek Draper, who is spearheading the drive. Others present included international development secretary Douglas Alexander, Portland PR founder Tim Allan, Fishburn Hedges director Simon Redfern and former Downing Street aides Ben Wegg Prosser and Adrian McMenamin.
Labour sources stressed that the initiative was not just about rebutting negative stories in the blogosphere. ‘It’s a genuine attempt to do something more positive,’ said one insider.
At the meeting, Draper is understood to have pressed home the message that ‘the days of command and control are partly over’. A source at the meeting added that Alexander ‘understood what needed to be done’ and that Wegg Prosser was ‘talking about what the party can do to make it more open to the ordinary person’.
Speaking to PRWeek, Draper declined to talk about the meeting, but suggested he was keen to encourage more Labour supporters – old and new - to make their voices heard in the blogosphere. ‘This is a world where a thousand flowers will bloom, some will grow tall and some will fall by the wayside,’ he said.
However, there was confusion when it emerged earlier this week that McMenam was behind a recently-created anti-Tory attack blog called toryparty.net and that he also runs another blog called hatemytory, on which you can express, on a range of one to ten, just how much you despise any Tory politician.
PRWeek understands that Draper did not sanction the two blogs and that he has had no involvement in either. Nevertheless members of Draper’s blogging council were unimpressed by the development. ‘It’s old-fashioned politics: not very transparent and not very positive,’ said one source who attended the meeting. Another Labour blogger described tit as ‘a bit embarrasing’.
Another meeting of the blogging council is expected to take place next month.