Monday, February 16, 2009

Jack Thurston: The Man Who Could Avert Draper's Car Crash?

When Labour finally gives Dolly Draper the heave-ho, as they surely will, they could do worse than turn to a chap called Jack Thurston. Until 2001 he was Special Advisor to Nick Brown. In THIS very thoughtful critique of Labour's internet presence he accurately analyses where they are going wrong, but, more to the point, comes up with ideas. Here's an excerpt from Thurston's article.

First, you just have to wonder who entrusted this Labour blogging effort to Derek Draper, a notoriously hot-head with a profound lack of tolerance for people whose points of view differ from his own. And on a more practical level, as far as I can see he has absolutely zero track record as a political blogger (or any other variety of blogger). Such is Draper’s reputation as a loose cannon that those senior people who entrusted him ‘deliver for the blogosphere’ (and I’ve little doubt that’s what was promised) then they must be utterly clueless about the internet or so desperate that they’ll go along with anyone vaguely plausible and familiar...

...So, what’s to do? The bad news is that I don’t think it’s likely that Labour will get its blogging groove on in time for the next election. The good news is that it probably doesn’t matter much. Labour should forget about trying to win the battle of the blogs. It’s probably a lost cause and anyway I’m not convinced it matters in terms of winning elections. What really matters is something altogether less glamorous. And that is a really coherent and responsive email-driven supporter mobilisation strategy. Even at 30 per cent in the polls, Labour does have tens of millions of supporters it should be communicating with, many of whom have email. It’s not about technology. John McCain had all the same e-mobilisation tools as Barack Obama he just didn’t use them nearly so well. If the next general election is close (and looking at the polls, that’s a big IF) this could turn out to be an important difference between the parties. In the meantime someone should either pull the plug on Labourlist or at the very least ditch Draper and limit the damage.

Perish the thought. Interestingly, in the comments on Thurston's article, Alex Hilton of Recess Monkey comes out into the open and agrees with his analysis. Virtually every other Labour blogger I have been in communication with thinks the same. When will they be brave enough to say it?

Perhaps all Conservatives need to launch a campaign to SAVE DOLLY. If you want a good laugh click on this Twitter feed of what the Twitosphere makes of Draper's rantings.

PS I had decided to take a vow of silence on Draper this week, but it's too entertaining not to comment on it.

UPDATE: Dizzy and Mark Pack both have new takes on the DraperList car crash.


Anonymous said...

You should all lay off Draper. He is intelligent, a man of strong beliefs, well qualified professionally and writes fluent and amusing blogs.

Run of the mill bloggers like Dale and Fawkes should stop being spiteful and read, learn and inwardly digest.

Would either have had the courage to invite Ed Balls to contribute a piece to their blogs?


Thought not.

'Nuff said.

Anonymous said...

Before anyone asks, I don't do irony on Monday mornings. Least of all when I am making marmalade.

Guthrum said...

Hugely entertaining !

Cate Munro said...

I absolutely agree with this analysis. Draper's 'effort' smacks of nothing more than desperation (a common theme amongst Labour at the moment!) And whilst jolly old Prezza can endear us with his "'ho ho ho' I've just got a new Blackberry over an iPhone and you should too!" geriatric techno-babble, unfortunately Dolly doesn't hold the same appeal! He's just an idiot with no personality who's entirely pointless!

Dick the Prick said...

'Tens of millions of supporters' - yeah, if they all vote by post and do have to do that boring thing like, yer know, exist.

Dick the Prick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Trend Shed said...

I'm sure Labour will pull the plug on Dolly soon - but that would be a shame.

LabourList is hilarious. Draper's delusional rantings are pure entertainment.

In these gloomy times we need a bit of light relief and Draper provides that by the bucket full.

Actually - I haven't seen Sacha Baron Cohen recently - maybe 'Derek Draper' is his latest character for the Web 2.0 generation?

Plato said...
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Plato said...

Judging by the silence on Labourlist, I assume Mr Draper is still in the Headmaster's Office...


Mr Thurston seems like a very sensible and safe pair of hands - however I think that I'd park it and do something with that other BETA thingy Labourspace. Perhaps he can breath some life into that instead.

I'm totally confused about what site is meant to be doing what - anyone provide a quick primer?

Hamish said...

Iain, you are not a man of your word. Or will you play the sophist and claim that deciding to take an oath of silence is not the same thing as taking an oath of silence?
Your blog opened my eyes to the blogosphere and it's still the first blog I click on.
Your obsession with Derek Draper is becoming boring. Your evident schadenfreude about the failings of LabourList is at odds with your early comments about genuinely wishing well to Draper and that blog

Iain Dale said...

Hamish, I am certainly not obsessed with him. I genuinely wished it well. But when he accused me of condoning racism, what did you expect me to do? Stand by and let him do that? I think not.

LabourList is a car crash, and I see nothing wrong in pointing that out from time to time, especially when Draper's supposed allies in the Labour Party agree with me.

Unknown said...

The lesson from this is that EVERYONE thinks Dolly's a tosser.

LaboutList is just another "LOOK AT ME" attack site without offering anything remotely useful.

Give up Dolly, you're reputation now preceeds you, which you have sulled through your own actions, so you have no-one to blame but yourself.

pxcentric said...

"And that is a really coherent and responsive email-driven supporter mobilisation strategy."

You could win a BS bingo tournament with that one masterful 'sentence'.

Plato said...

Apology on Draperlist - oh err

Hamish said...


"But when he accused me of condoning racism, what did you expect me to do? Stand by and let him do that?"

Yes, and I would have thought more of you if you had done just that.

Barnacle Bill said...

Wheres Canvas today?
I'm surprised she isn't here calling you a draperist and, demanding you apoligize for it!
cherami - Ed Balls can put a piece on my blog any day of the week he and the missus are in their second, no just a minute main no scrub that, second home it was Yorkshire pudding day yesterday.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

This jumped out at me:

"What really matters is something altogether less glamorous. And that is a really coherent and responsive email-driven supporter mobilisation strategy".

As a small-time dilletante music promoter I concur. Clever people in the business, long before I got into it, realised that the cheapest and most targetted way to reach your audience was email lists and I am quickly realising it is one of the most valuable marketing tools.

This man's terse and coruscating appraisal of Draperdom is very good.

Labour voters are waverers. They want to vote Labour with all their hearts, but of late, they are obviously pissed off. People are not flocking to the Tories for any other reason.

If Thurston can keep them on board, with honest dialogue, rather than the argot of the gulag evinced by Draper, he will be a very dangerous man.

Iain Dale said...

Hamish, that is a very odd thing to say. It's my reputation at stake, and it's something I value. Being accused of racism, or condoning it, is one of the most despicable things anyone can be accused of.

Plato said...

Draper apology = banker/Brown apology.

I heard it from someone else, feably attempt to implicate Guido in the same sentence *yawn* and then spent all last night trying to come up with an excuse - but fail miserably.

From his blog:

"It has been pointed out on various blogs that I referred to "windowlickers" in posts at the end of last week. I picked this up from another Labour blogger who alleged that Guido Fawkes has used it to describe the people who visit this site (I don't know if he ever has done so). At that point I thought the phrase meant someone looking in a window, like a kid at a candyshop, wishing they were inside.

When someone challenged me on the use of the term and said it referred to the mentally handicapped I said immediately that I was unaware of that and would check it out. *oh no you didn't sunshine* Having done so it is now clear to me that the term does have this awful meaning and so I unreservedly apologise for using it and undertake never to do so again. As I say, sorry."

And all the repellent content is still there - what a pointless exercise.

Ethelred the Unhinged said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wrinkled Weasel said...

By the way, have you read Alex (Thatcher is Dead) Hilton's blog recently?

The latest post is sub schoolboy newsletter stuff. How he can describe himself as a journalist, by peddling faux private eye "my informant tells me" piffle, I don't know.

In spite of that, Alex, if you are reading this, I wish you well with the libel case.

Ethelred the Unhinged said...

Surely what many successful political blogs have in common is that they are run by individuals whose personality and occasional sense of humour are an integral part of the blog.

Dolly's effort is paid for by the Labour Party, his personality seems unpleasant and he has no sense of humour.

Apart from that his approach is spot on and Guido, Mrs Dale, Dizzy et al are all no doubt wearing dark brown trousers.

Anonymous said...

We love you dolly
oh yes we dooo
we love you dolly
and labourlist tooo.

it's true innit?He was our side really wasn't he?.We need a save dolly movement,already had mine today tho......

davidc said...

@cherami- why would it take courage for dale and fawkes to invite ed balls to contribute to their respective blogs ?

foolhardiness perhaps but courage ?

Anonymous said...


Because ...oh, dear. I was warned about irony on CiF. We never learn, we never learn.

freddo41 said...


"But when he accused me of condoning racism, what did you expect me to do? Stand by and let him do that?"

Yes, and I would have thought more of you if you had done just that.

Hamish is right Iain. And I would have thought much more of you if you'd written to Mr Draper immediately, agreeing with every word he'd said.

Hamish said...

To avoid any doubt, I was not saying I agreed with Derek Draper on this matter. Despite knowing Iain only through his blog, I know he is not a racist.
Derek Draper had a tiny point that Iain wrongly thought that C. Thatcher's remarks were directed against that two-eyed Scotsman Andy Murray. Understandable mistake on Iain's part, but only because of Andy's hair.
What I would say, Iain, is sometimes let others stand up for you, rather than protest too much.

Golliwogg said...

Drip's gone! See the new (anon) editor's note on liarslist

Null said...

So, "The Editor" apologises for the windowlicker comment. I wonder why it wasn't done with Dolly's byline?

Also, the comment has been deleted. I wonder if it was deleted by Dolly, or an adult?

Old BE said...

It's interesting to note that all the now prominent bloggers on the Right rose to prominence through their blogging not from previous incarnations. Where are those bedroom bloggers on the Left?

Beware of Geeks bearing GIFs said...

The site has gone beyond parody since the window licker revelation. As I said when the abomination that is LabourFisk was granted life, it wasn’t going to last with the manic psychologist on another revival of his old, failed ex-taxpayer funded “Consultants of Spin” fantasy.

Inadvertently, he probably generated more traffic with his “ra-ra racist” anthem than could possibly be accredited to his intellect to have come up with such a strategic plan.

Seeing him write that dogma so infused by the liberal left reminds me of a set of Pavlov’s dogs instinctively salivating upon hearing the ding of the word “black”, “Islam” or “Romany”.

I think pressure will be made for the site to be taken “under new management” and for Dolly to continue his one man angst publicising his stupidity on his personal blog.

wv spitable

an ex-apprentice said...

Dear Mrs Plato,

I see you've not only been wallowing in the slime on LabourList, but you've also been submerging yourself in the sludge of Dolly's personal sty.

You are a very naughty goat!

I hope you've had those hooves disinfected!

Plato said...

Dearest Mr Ex-Apprentice

We've had an outbreak of foot-in-mouth here recently so my good old cloven foot bath has had lots of goat action.

I looked on it as a public service :)

Plato said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hopi Sen said...


I don't quite know what you mean by "brave enough to say it" but what Jack says is pretty similar to what Douglas Alexander said at Labourlist.

I’ve also said before that if I were the party campaign team I’d regard supporter email acquisition, support for labour organisers and activists, and methods for transmitting key messages (like leaflets, canvassing techniques, narrow policy interest briefings) as much. much. much more important than engaging with bloggers.

Blogs are important in getting stories up, creating a buzz that people need to listen to and helping to set the political agenda. I actually think Labour is as good as the Tories on this sort of thing. It’s just that the kind of buzz you can create is very different when you’re in government to when you’re in opposition - as I hope you never find out.

I sometimes feel a bit wierd in that I blog because a) I like politics, b) I like writing and c) I like writing about the politics and it makes me happy when someone chooses to read what I write about.

Which isn’t a particularly impressive mission statment.

I console myself by having a fairly low opinion of “opinion-blogs” (including my own), because in the end, all it is is burbling online, and I don’t really think what I do/say is going to change anyones votes.

The only thing it might credibly do is influence a few parly researchers, be read by journalists and occassionally get me on the telly.

I think independent people are generally better at that than the party machine, and that the machine should focus on more important things - which it is doing.

Final point, a lot of the things the left “needs” online isn’t within the power of the party to do.

We really need a “talkingpointsmemo” factual reportage style site more than another Labour opinion blog, but that requires someone to set it up, put the effort into it and break a couple of stories.

The Grim Reaper said...

Cherami said "You should all lay off Draper. He is intelligent, a man of strong beliefs, well qualified professionally and writes fluent and amusing blogs."

Hello there, Dolly! That your new name is it? Very nice for you. How are all those monkeys you've hired for LabourList - not peeing into your shoes too often, I hope? Give my love to Kate if you read this.

Simon Gardner said...

His analysis of the [non] importance of blogs to forthcoming elections is, I am sure, entirely accurate.

In the end, they are “white noise”.

The Grim Reaper said...

By the way Iain, take a look at this over on Mr Blaney's blog. It's the Downfall video which I predicted someone or other would have made about our favourite Labour blogger.

Dick the Prick said...

Hopi Sen - whaddya talking about man? That's as good as a mission statement as I've ever heard.

Unsworth said...

@ Hopi Sen

So you think it necessary for a blog to have a 'mission statement'?

Therein lies Draper's downfall. Blogs should entertain, inform, amuse, shock etc, - but preach? It'll have to be a damn fine sermon before I enter your church.

The essence of blogging is dialogue. If blog owners moderate the hell out of comments, or - worse - do not allow comment at all, readerships will simply go elsewhere.

Dick the Prick said...

I've always valued Unsworth in the narrative challenge to 'entertain, inform, amuse, shock etc, - but preach' too often.

Unsworth - let's face it bud, there was no inspire, understood or challenge. There are 2 arguments going on: get rid of Labour and work out what you want.

Merseymike said...

Blogs will, I think , always tend to be biased towards opposition, which means that Tory blogs have made the running for the last few years as blogs emerged. Indeed, many of the best Labour blogs are anti-NL. Its pretty dull reading defences of government, irrespective of which government and what they are doing.

I wonder, though, whether blogs may be a bit like US talk radio - something the right are just more into and so likely to do.

There also seem to be few independent blogs all told.

Hopi Sen said...

Unsworth - I was having a joke about the idea of having a mission statment when what I like doing is just writing about stuff. For fun.

I don't care if blogs have mission statements or not. I just like them to be interestng.