Are the Tories learning from Labour’s blog blunder?

New Labour’s aparatchics never understood government, let alone the blogosophere. Are the Tories really, really, learning the lessons?

Number 10’s Red Rag enterprise was wonderfully incompetent. Still, it has served a purpose. I am glad the nastiness which was always at the heart of New Labour’s operations is now too obvious to ignore and that it now so firmly attaches to Mr Brown who has for some reason never quite broken into mainstream consciousness as the spinner de luxe he always was. I say “nasty”: I mean that it was bitchy, self-serving, unscrupulous, heartless and deeply unworthy of the pretty decent traditions of British government. To be too fair to it, it learnt stuff from Mrs Thatcher and Harold Wilson, but it was in a league of its own.

Are the Tories really, really learning these lessons? I look at that here, in my Making Better Government site.

Nasty and wonderfully unaware about modern media….

As Damian McBride’s spin operations switched from bashing fellow Labourites to bashing the Tories, and
doing it in the blogosphere, it is worth noting that he and his henchman Derek Draper (and, if Iain Dale is to be believed in the Mail, and in the Telegraph, Gordon Brown’s old colleague Charlie Whelan) seemed to have been absurdly incompetent. (Jim Pickard in the FT seems to be getting this stuff right.) Their foray into the internet never happened, but what – one wonders – did they think success could possibly have looked like? How could Red Rag have been a success even if it was launched and read and stayed anonymous for a while?

New Labour did not seem to note an important feature of the success of the “right” on the blogosphere. It consists mostly of Dizzy, Iain Dale and Guido Fawkes. These are all lone voices. So far as anyone knows, their authors are authors. They are not, so far as one knows, funded by anyone and if they are, they are funded to be squibs. They are unorthodox and idiosyncratic. They are not aparatchics, or even very good club or team players. I don’t follow them closely, but so far as I know, they deal in the real peccadilloes of politicians. That’s to say, they dish real dirt when they can – but they don’t go after people’s wives and private lives. They can genuinely assert that their work is in the public interest. Indeed, they seem to make a better fist of this sort of assertion than Private Eye.

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Publication date

14 April 2009