Gaby Hinsliff has the STORY for tomorrow's Observer that the much vaunted Derek Draper blog initiative launches this week. Draper himself will be the editor and seems to be modelling it very much on ConservativeHome. It's called LabourList.org and will call into question the future of Alex Hilton's LabourHome site, which has never really taken off.
From what the story says, I think Draper has three problems - funding, independence and contributors. If people in the Labour Party see this as a New Labour project, it's unlikely to get the level of readership needed to rival the likes of ConHome. ConHome is successful because of its grassroots appeal and the fact that everyone in the Party reads it. Draper's task is to make LabourList a must-read for all Labour activists. But this will be difficult with no budget. ConHome has relied of Stephan Shakespeare to fund two full time staffers since it launched in 2005 [Correction: ConHome points out that there was no funding for the first year]. I cannot see LabourList lasting very long if Draper has to fund it himself. Looking at the contributors list it is very much a Who's Who of New Labour, with the odd leftie thrown in for good measure. ConHome's success has in part been down to its ability to attract fine writers who are not names in their own right. The likes of Graeme Archer, Alex Deane and Andrew Lilico have enabled the site to develop without needing to rely on a constant stream of articles by so-called star names.
The site also needs to ensure very quickly that it is not seen as a party-pris site. It can enjoy good relations with the Labour Party, but it must not be of it. It needs to have its own raison d'etre and its own agenda, which will sometimes diverge from that of the Party.
It will be interesting to see how it develops.
UPDATE: The following blogs have reaction to the Draper initiative...
Spectator Coffee House
UPDATE: Derek Draper has written an ARTICLE on LabourList for the Mail on Sunday.
UPDATE: Mike Rouse has done a technical analysis of LabourList HERE.