Luke Akehurst seems a tad incredulous today:
What readers seem to want … is second hand leaked documents already stuck on Tory blogs…
and got 556 hits, which I think is the highest readership I’ve ever had in a single day.
Whilst carefully thought out analysis that takes me ages to write just doesn’t seem to gets the hits.
Yeah, Luke. Tell me about it.
One the same day that the press are having multiple orgasms over Dave the Chameleon’s latest vapid collection of buzzwords and platitudes, all backed up, by complete coincidence (yeah, right) by new report released by an “independent” charitable Tory-run Think Tank ,what are our lot up to?
Obsessing about a badly out-of-date strategy document that fell off the back of a possible entrant in the race for the Deputy Leadership into the hands of a former bag-carrier for one of Thatcher’s key minions, David Hart, who, by repute was the brains behind the breaking of the miner’s strike.
Does no one stop to wonder, just exactly how this document fell into Staines’ hands?
I don’t suppose anyone’s really taken the time to have a proper look at the document in question. You’re all just assuming that this one of those embarrassing ‘Oops, left it on the photocopier in Portcullis House’, right?
Wrong. Look a bit more closely, it’s not a scanned copy of a paper document that been stupidly left lying around by someone in the Hain camp, it’s actually a .pdf compiled from an original document, which is why you can cut and paste the text from if you’ve got a mind to – something you can’t do if the .pdf is just a scanned set of images.
If you bother to check out the document properties, what you’ll find is that the document still carries an internal title, ‘East England’ and the name of the document’s author, ‘CarberryJ’ plus the software from which the .pdf document was rendered (Open Office 2.0) and the date & time that the .pdf document was created, 29-1-2007 (yes, that’s yesterday) at 11:21am*.
*Yes, that is seven minutes after the time given on Staines’ own leak post, which tells us both that the clock on someone’s PC is out of kilter and that wherever Staines was posting from he had access to the original document – presumably it had been e-mailed to him by one of his sources.
Let’s cut the bullshit here and get right on down to business. You can forget all about Staines’ ‘happy anarchist’ shtick, the whole ‘Guido Fawkes’ routine is nothing more than a front, a carefully contrived facade behind which hides a rapid ultra right-wing ideologue who ‘off camera’ happily boasts of his involvement in union-bashing and Tory dirty tricks campaigns in the 1980’s. Staines is running two basic and very obvious agendas, discrediting the left is one and trying to drag the Tories back over into Reagan/Thatcher/Likud territory is the other, and yet there are people on our side seeming feeding information to him so he can act as the front man for their own personal/political vendettas.
So Guido’s raison d’être (apart from arson, obviously) is to bravely provide an alternative channel for information that would otherwise be compromised by these cosy relationships; to cut through the bull and fearlessly hold our political class to account.
Sorry, but he’s a total hypocrite.
Do you remember the David Taylor affair? While the majority of the media was screaming ‘Brown coup attempt!’ and faithfully parroting Downing Street’s calls for unity, the final figures and connections clearly established that before there was an alleged plot by Brownites to depose Blair, there was an actual plot by Blairites to undermine the Chancellor and push Alan Johnson as the next PM.
Right up Guido’s street, right? Cuts through all the bullshit and lets you know what’s really going on in Westminster. Hell, even one of his regulars was chasing the same story.
But no mention from Guido. Not even a ‘by the way’ link.
Because David Taylor is (or perhaps was) one of Guido’s informants. Guido could not so much as mention the story without upsetting him.
So those who rely on Guido for their ‘unfiltered’ scuttlebutt only got the Brown-bashing half of the story because of the kind of cosy relationship he spits on.
And there’s more:
Guido couldn’t mention the story… but that didn’t stop him from dishing a little dirt and/or providing a few leads.
Guido was careful to conduct most of this affair by telephone, but he did leave the following email trail that I publish now in full for the benefit of David and any of Guido’s other trusting informants:
—– Original Message —– From: “Guy Fawkes”
To: “Tim Ireland” firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: Monday, September 11, 2006 4:31 PM
Subject: Re: boom
> Have you done fourth term net?
> Are you going to point the finger at Benji Wegg Prosser No. 10’s
> Director of Strategic Communications?
> Not vis-a-vis Taylor – he is McM’s gofer. – and paid to dig dirt on
> LibDems. But McM is plausibly deniable by BWP.
> BWP is very keen on the Online War. He is frustrated with what he
> sees as right-wing ascendancy online.
> Check the Google cache for the hastily pulled Gordon is a Moron blog.
> On 9/11/06, Tim Ireland wrote:
>> Of course, you’ll have to report this when it goes mainstream
>> —– Original Message —–
>> From: “Guy Fawkes”
>> To: “Tim Ireland”
>> Sent: Monday, September 11, 2006 5:14 PM
>> Subject: Re: boom
>> > All yours, am laughing.
>> > As I said before, he is a source. That buys him some protection.
>> > Doesn’t mean I don’t wish you well…. 😉
>> > On 9/11/06, Tim Ireland wrote:
>> >> http://www.bloggerheads.com/archives/2006/09/david_taylor_rumbled.asp
A major part of the problem here, as yesterday’s going overboard on the Hain leak clearly demonstrated, is the unresolved saga of ‘the succession’ and the Maximum Tone’s quite bizarre assertion that he wants to finish what he’s started and that he still has a ‘strong and energetic agenda‘ of public service reforms to carry out.
Look, he’s already announced that he’s out of here before the next annual conference, and looking at the schedule for this year’s Parliamentary recesses, his last call for getting anything done is the summer recess, which is set for July 26th and runs to early October
Tony’s got a maximum of six months, which when you factor in another three two-week recesses plus elections for the Northern Ireland Assembly, Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and local government elections, all in early May, which are going to take up at least another couple of weeks in terms of concentrating on campaigning, then he’s got an effective 17-18 weeks to tie up his ‘unfinished business’.
It’s time for everyone to wake up and smell the coffee, here.
In a matter of 17-18 working weeks, Tony isn’t going to sort out Iraq; he isn’t going to bring peace to the Middle-East, he certainly ain’t going to fix the problems at the Home Office and as far as public service reforms are concerned, the best he can hope for is to railroad through a bunch of legislation, the full effects of which will not become apparent until long after he swanned off to the US lecture circuit – in fact I’d be surprised if any of it actually came into force at all before he’s gone.
Tony’s got one potential win on the horizon that could deliver in time for a dignified exit, and that’s getting the Northern Ireland Assembly back up and running, and if he had any sense of perspective he’d concentrate on that, get the ‘win’ declare victory and bow out with a bit of dignity – as for everything else, he should just sort out the paperwork, tidy up the office and get ready to clear his desk.
Blair’s mistake lies in his trying to ‘secure his legacy’ – its an absurd idea simply because life just doesn’t work that way and rarely, if ever, does anyone get to decide for the rest of us exactly how it is that they’ll be remembered. Only Churchill, in recent times. has even managed that feat and only then because, as he observed himself, ‘History will be kind to me for I intend to write it’ – and to give old Winston his due he was no fool on that score, the only way to be sure of how history will remember you is to make sure that you’re the one writing the history books.
If Blair really wants a legacy then he should do what ex-US Presidents do, set up a library, sponsor an academic chair or institute a scholarship programme in his own name – do something he can control after his political career is over. But he can forget trying to set up legacies in Parliament, he’s wasting your time – remember one of the golden rules of Parliamentary sovereignty is the convention that no Parliament may bind a successor – there is nothing that Tony has done in the last nearly ten years that cannot be undone by a future government, so it’s time for him to quit the Sysiphus act, start planning what he’s going to do next, and leave the business of government to those who’re staying on to the next general election and beyond.
Tony’s determination to hang on until someone prises his fingers from the doorknob at number 10 with a crowbar is damaging the Party on so many different levels that it’s hard to know where the next screw-up is coming from, largely because we’re so completely absorbed with waiting for the leadership issue to be resolved, and let’s honest, the way the Party rulebook works there really isn’t much we do about that, which is what’s making this all the more frustrating, because while us Party members/activists and hanging around and marking time waiting for the PLP to get its act together and settle the business of the leadership once and for all, we’re getting creamed out here.
Sorry. Don’t really wish to offend people, especially other Labour bloggers, but I can only say this one way and that’s straight up front – compared to the media operation the Tories have put in place, and especially their foray in new media, we’re looking more and more like a complete bunch of amateurs and there’s no one to blame for that but ourselves, because we’re not working together and we’re simply not putting up a fight.
Let’s face facts here, the two highest profile ‘bloggers’ currently operating in the UK are a Tory A-lister, Iain Dale, and his Thatcherite ‘attack dog’ buddy, Paul Staines (aka Guido Fawkes). Just looking at the last five posts on each blog, we find that Dale’s bigging-up 18 Tory Street’s tax attack ad, which made last night’s Newsnight, making a wrong call on the outcome of the “super casino” decision and then eating his hat over it, and a short dig at John Reid over police numbers, meanwhile Staines is running two ‘stories’, loans for peerages and his current pet smear story on the Smith Institute and its alleged links to Gordon Brown.
All contemporary up-to-the-minute stuff and all, but for Dale’s hat-for-lunch post, stuff that aims to make us look bad.
What are the two most high profile blogs on our side at the moment? Errr… Mmm…
If anything, the one Labour blog that the media has given some attention to in the past is Harry’s Place, and for its current top five stories we’ve got: Myriam Margolyes sympathising with Palestinians (that’s bad), Gilad Atzmon having a spat with Sue Blackwell, which includes this wonderful observation:
There is kind of a tradition on the Left that disputes are settled by debate, argument, and if necessary, revolution: but not by recourse to the bourgeois courts. It isn’t a protocol which is always observed. The Workers’ Revolutionary Party famously tried to sue Workers’ Liberty founder Sean Matgamna for libel:
“for comparing them to the Moonie sect and the Scientologists, and for reporting that they used systematic emotional, political and physical violence against vulnerable young people. “
That all this was true did not worry Gerry Healy.
Yes, well, that’s very nice and very true, but largely irrelevant unless you’re a longstanding connosseur of left-wing infighting.
Then there’s a lengthy piece on an Amnesty International report on Iran, another long piece on Munira Mirza’s report for Policy Exchange on community cohesion – no mention of the fact that Policy Exchange is a barely disguised Tory think-tank – and then a quick round-up of views on Nick Cohen’s book, ‘What’s Left?’.
The usual Harry’s Place fare, then, and fine for what it is, but absolutely fuck all use to the Party from a campaign point of view unless we’re planning to run for seats in the Knesset.
That probably sounds a lot harsher than its intended to be – my disagreements with Harry’s Place on an number of issues are well enough documented, but on this occasion I’m not knocking them for what they do, merely noting that what is still pretty much the best known Labour blog amongst the MSM is one that concentrates almost exclusively on what are, in domestic terms, fringe issues. The problem here isn’t with Harry’s Place, but rather with our failure to come up with one blogger with a sufficiently high profile to replace HP as the ‘brand-leading’ Labour blog in the eyes of the MSM and develop a profile somewhere approaching that of Iain Dale.
Again, without wishing to seem too harsh, it only takes a simple visual assessment of ConservativeHome against its nearest Labour counterpart, LabourHome, shows up the gulf that’s rapidly emerging between to two parties in their approach to, and use of, new media – one’s clearly the product of a slick, behind the scenes media operation and has had a fair bit of cash thrown at it, the other, being brutally honest, is something thrown together by a few bloggers as a rather pale imitation of what the Tories are up to. You can’t fault the guys behind LabourHome for not trying, but if you put the two side by side the differences are all too obvious.
And then there’s 18 Doughty Street, or to give it a choice of better names, either Tory TV or Fox News Lite. It’s another Tory-run media operation, I mean FFS, it’s five directors are all either ex-candidates or employees of the Tory party and, again, I’m going to be brutally honesty as say that I can’t help but cringe every time I see a Labour blogger talking about making or having made an appearance on it, simply because touching the damn thing with a barge pole if giving them a degree of credibility they simple don’t deserve.
This is not a cross-party venture, it’s not independent, it’s another Tory front operation, albeit one with a fair bit of chutzpah in claiming this in its FAQ:
Does 18 Doughty Street have a particular editorial line?
Yes. We are anti-establishment.
A large number of issues that matter to voters going about their everyday lives are deemed too sensitive to debate, or the major political parties have adopted a consensus that prevents fresh, innovative solutions being considered for problems that have plagued Britain for decades. We raise issues where an unhealthy consensus has developed (such as on state funding of political parties or on Britain’s membership of the EU) and we ask questions of our guests from a perspective from which they have rarely been questioned to date.
If its anti-establishment at all, its only that in the same sense that Paul Staines claims to be anti-establishment, i.e. its a bolt-hole for the Party’s Thatcherite ‘Ultras’ who’re, publicly at least, a bit pissed off with Cameron’s move to the centre ground – and absolutely dedicated to getting rid of a Labour government in any form. Oh, and let’s also not be forgetting here that we’re a long, long way from being sure that Cameron’s ‘transformation’ of the Tory Party is anything more than skin deep. Just being Cameron’s been fairly successful, thus far, in putting a nice friendly gloss on the Tory Party doesn’t mean that he’s either got the will or the political support with the party to face down his own right-wing if they he does manage to win a general election.
It’s time that we (meaning Labour activists and especially Labour bloggers) started to wake up and realise that the game’s already changing around us and, if we’re not careful, we’re going to get left behind.
It’s also time for us to start re-evaluating where blogging, in general, is going and how its going to develop over the next couple of years.
A ‘pattern of behaviour’ is rapidly emerging in the British blogosphere that, for me, having been out here on the ‘electronic front’ for a long time, is all too familiar – I’ve seen it before, twice, once on Usenet and a second time on what were the first ‘run’ on web-based forums and discussion boards.
The way that all these things started out is broadly the same; a bunch of people get, the majority of whom are pretty technically proficient – you have to be to be in on the start of these things before they become all user-friendly and accessible for non-techs – get together and form a small, relatively closed community based on nothing more than the enjoyment of the debate. Call it the ‘Corinthian spirit’ of the internet, if you like, but the general deal is that amongst the ‘early adopters’ what matters most is the chance to join the debate and not tribally playing out the party line – that’s not to say, in terms of political discussions, that the political difference between left and right don’t matter or aren’t hotly debated but the prevailing culture is one in which the majority of early ‘players’ are:
a) Independently minded, if not outright dissidents from the mainstream, and therefore inclined to think for themselves, and
b) Mature enough to ‘resolve’ debates by agreeing to disagree with their opponents and move on, rather than bang away at issues where there’s a complete impasse.
As culture’s go, its somewhat akin to the kind of culture one finds in Parliament, where MPs can be verbally trying to knock seven bells out of their political opponents on the floor of the House only then to repair to the bar for a couple of beers afterwards.
Sadly, if that’s the kind of culture you enjoy operating in, then its not one that lasts for very long – eventually the political ultras and arch-tribalists catch on to the new medium and filter in and, whoops, there goes the ‘neighbourhood’ – the trolls move in and the anonymous ad-hominem attacks and other assorted dirty tricks start-up and, pretty soon, its impossible to have a decent debate about anything because the ‘arena’ is full of people for whom what you have to say is less important than which party you belong to and which side of political divide you’re on.
And that’s when the early adopters start to move on – pretty much at the point when no matter the subject any and all discussions turn into a bad re-run of Python’s argument sketch with the first dozen comments. So the ‘pioneers’ bailed out of Usenet for web-based forums, and then when they got to be full of trolls and AOHeller’s, they slipped off quietly into blogging.
One of the things that constantly been said about the British blogosphere is that we’re well ‘behind’ that of the US in the way blogging has developed and, to be honest, that’s not such a bad thing because while we might have had the kind of mainstream ‘impact’ that some US bloggers have had, we also haven’t had to deal with all the stuff that makes up the ‘downside’ of the US scene, the roving bands of ultra-partisan anonymous blog trolls and organised attack-blogging.
A couple of weeks back I watched a fascinating documentary on BBC 4 called “Blog Wars”, which chronicled the role of bloggers in the Lamont vs Leiberman Democratic Primary seems to have got almost no attention at all from British bloggers – Blairwatch got a preview DVD and Steve Wood notes that Kos got a namecheck in the programme.
The programme itself was fascinating, as much for alien the whole Lamont set-up seemed when set against the prevailing culture – to date – of British blogosphere. Lamont was operating with an organised team of campaign bloggers who’d been given media training and were ‘divvying’ up the attacks on Lieberman and the running order in which different members of the team would pile in to a particular story. What I was seeing unfold was a carefully, and centrally, coordinated campaign (behind the scenes) being played out in the public eye (i.e. online) as if it were the usual organic process in which a blogger run a story which then spreads as other bloggers notice it and decide, independently, to join in the ‘fun.
It’s what we call ‘astroturfing’ and its something that, as a blogger, I loathe, much like Tim Ireland whose new project ‘National Service‘ appears to be a direct response to the emergence of this practice on the British scene…
…but then, as Labour Party member, I have to be honest and say both that this kind of is almost certainly going to be a feature of blogging over the next couple of years and become more and more prevalent as we head into the next general election campaign and that the Tories online media operation looks to be shaping up already to try and take maximum advantage of it.
Somewhere down the line, I’ve got a tough call to make, here. I don’t want to compromise on my ‘principles’ in terms of how I approach blogging in general but, at the same time, I’m not an independent operator like Tim, who can stand back off this and take a completely ethical line on astroturfing, I’m a member of the Labour Party and if the ‘dirty war’ kicks off then, like it or not, I’m going to have to get my own hands dirty. Probably the best I can do, and what I’m going to try and do, is draw as clear a dividing line as possible between those bloggers who play by the ‘rules of netiquette’, and who have been by and large the mainstays of the British scene as its developed to this point, and what I suspect will be a growing number of attack bloggers emerging on the Tory side (and from other parties, as well).
Whatever happens, the next election is going to be tight, unless one or other of the two main parties really screws up badly in the meantime, and a tight election is always a nasty one – only the battlefield will be a bit different next time out.
What I trying to say here, and this is directed at Labour bloggers, is that its time we started to wake up, get our heads our of our arses and start thinking about how we’re going to factor into the next election campaign – not least as on the evidence so far, if we leave to the party hierarchy to organise something we’ll still be sat here twiddling our thumbs come election time. This is has to be real, it has to be organic and it has to come from the grassroots not the party’s centralised PR machine – in fact one of the more embarrassing and cringeworthy things I’ve noticed one or two Labour bloggers doing (and no, I’m not naming names) is reposting party press releases verbatim on their blogs – if that is you, and you know who you are, then stop it! It’s looks completely artificial, false and, frankly, ridiculous – real people, and real activists, just don’t write like that that and if you do want to flag up an official press release then at least try to find something of your own to say about it in your own words, don’t just repost the damn thing and stick ‘me too’ on the end.
I’m going to try and post some more thoughts on this in due course but for the time being there are a couple of practical things that could be done with the resources (and bloggers) we’ve already got.
First off, lets try and stop giving credibility to the Tory’s burgeoning media operation and that means that we stop treating the likes of Iain Dale and Paul Staines as if they were just another couple of bloggers, the same as the rest of us – they’re not. Dales an A-lister and deeply involved in the Tory’s new media operations and Staines, when you take away his Guy Fawkes mask, is a Thatcherite ideologue. If you missed it, then check out this post of Dave Osler’s from last July, which adds yet another dimension to Staines’ background.
Second, there’s a couple of stories out there that we really should be trying to get on top of but on which the response amongst Labour bloggers has been, to say the least, patchy.
Let’s not forget that for all that its people at the top of our own Party that are under investigation by the Met over the ‘loans for peerages’ allegations, the Tory Party’s actions have been considerably less than open and transparent in all this. Long after we’d fronted up as revealed the identities of our backers, they were refusing to release the identities of their’s and did so only after they’d repaid a number of of sizable loans, ensuring that both the identity of their backers and the terms of these loans were kept completely out of the public domain, while the loan themselves were replaced by fresh loans from a number of anonymous non-trading cash shells.
This is an issue we should be pushing in the same way that we should be responding to the Tory’s efforts to turn The Smith Institute into a smear on Gordon Brown by publicly pointing out that one of their own pet think tanks is far from being as independent as they’d like people to think.
This is the kind of stuff we need to start waking up to, because its not going to go away – what we’re going to see is a near-constant drip feed of smears, attacks and allegation of sleaze running right up to the next general election.
More generally, we have to start wising up to how the game’s being played here and realise that if you look closely enough there’s clear signs of a concerted strategy emerging from the right, one in with the media is playing a key role and one that needs to be countered. To point to just a couple of things that look, to me, to be unfolding, one – the obvious one – is that with all three main parties crowding into the middle ground and not that much to choose between them on policy, especially when it comes to the economy which is by far the most significant factor in elections, part of the ‘battleplan’ on the Tory side is going to be based on trying to foster and foment distrust of Gordon Brown.
The current attacks on the Smith Institute are part of that, as is the whole ‘English votes on English Matters’ thing – EVOEM is an unworkable constitutional mess, as any of the Tories out there who properly understand the issues (mostly amongst supporters of a full blown English Parliament) know full well – it not a policy, as such, just a means of making an issue of Brown being a Scot and suggesting that that makes him ‘unfit’ to be Prime Minister of Britain. If you think about, the other side of that coin is the suggestion that almost that of saying that only an Englishman should be allowed to Prime Minister of Britain – although no doubt questions on that would be blown off by pointing to the native Scots and Welshmen who represent English constituencies as MPs, but that, in itself, is something of a blind as that’s a line of argument that can be readily followed down the road of asking why Scots and Welshmen should be permitted to represent English constituencies in the first place?
The other one to watch to for will be near constant pressure from the right-wing press on the Home Office over immigration, criminal justice, etc. Expect that continue unabated, not just because there are tangible problems in the Home Office but also because there is a political weakness there that, if we’re not carefully, will be exploited by the Tories.
The Home Office is our biggest current political liability – apart from Blair’s refusal to settle the succession by naming the day of his retirement as PM.
It’s a major problem for us because it leaves us open to attack on three fronts. Administrative incompetence is one, obviously, and that’s what we’re seeing played out the moment. The other two lines of attack both stem from our political handling of Home Affairs and the extent to which we’ve moved, or you could well say have been pushed, out to the right in response to the agenda of the right-wing press – in fact we’re now so far out to the right in of Home Office policy and so obviously authoritarian that the Tories are able to pitch themselves as being more liberal than us without really looking weak on crime and criminal justice and much of that has to do with the extent to which the Home Office has been jumping to the tune of the likes of the Daily Mail, Daily Express and the Sun.
We’re the one’s who’re no looking more and more like ‘the Nasty Party’ and what we’ll see over the next couple of years, as a result, is, first, no let up at all on the pressure from the right-wing, who having successfully moved us to the right will be doing everything they possibly can to keep there and, if possible, move us even further out of the centre ground to create more room for the Tories.
The second thing we’ll be seeing is the Tories specifically targetting two key voting demographics in Labour-Tory marginals.
One will be Lib Dem voters, especially the one’s that we persuaded into the 1997 ‘coalition’ on the back of a loose alliance founded on the notion of getting rid of the Tories no matter what. One of Tories key aims at the next election is going to be to try and return the ‘compliment’ by trying to collapse and then pick up the Lib Dem vote in those marginal seats on the back of presenting themselves as being more liberal and less authoritarian on civil liberties, etc.
The other target demographic – and this may surprise a few people – will be ethnic minority communities and especially those from the Indian subcontinent. I’ll make a prediction here, what the Tories will do is talk about their plans for immigration policy and immigration controls in very general terms but what they won’t do is get into any specifics as to how their proposed ‘points system’ will work, all they’ll be saying is that whatever their system is, it will be different from the one that we put in place.
Why? Because such a system will have both winners and losers as we make the transition from the existing system to a new point-based system in which the ‘economic value’ of would-be migrants plays a big part in determining their immigration status, and amongst the biggest potential losers with be people from the India, Pakistan and Bangladeshi who’re looking to bring over family members and especially older relatives on the premise that they’ll be helping out with things like child care, etc. Unless the system is very carefully put together to avoid such issues arising, and let’s be clear any sense that the system makes allowances for people whose economic value to the UK appears ‘limited’ in terms of bankable skills is going to get jumped by the right-wing press immediately, then this new system is going to impact heavily on a number of existing communities, especially those with their origins in rural areas of Pakistan and Bangladesh (Mirpuris, Sylhetis, etc.) who are going to find that the argument that they need to bring their parent’s over to mind the kids while they’re out at work isn’t going to ‘fly’ quite so easily in future, and one can also expect much the same issues could arise in bringing in spouses ‘from the old country’ as well.
In both these cases, there’s already a wedge between these groups and Labour, stemming from the Iraq War, and in both cases, that wedge can be pretty easily driven home even further if we allow ourselves to be pulled too far out to the right in efforts to look ‘tough’ on issues such as immigration and criminal justice and continue in the same heavily authoritarian vein on civil liberties.
Some of this stuff may be out of our hands, in the sense that as activists we have little real say, at present, in Home Office policy – but then as activists we can and should be trying to drive home the message inside the party not that we necessarily need to move to the left on some issues but rather that we’re drifting badly out of the centre ground to the right in certain policy areas, areas which will have an impact on the outcome of the next election if we’re not careful.
One thing that has to stop, right now, is using the likes of Paul Staines as a means of carrying out internal vendettas. Whatever you might think of the content of the Hain strategy document, if it did find its way to Staines by way of someone on the inside of the party then whoever it was is not only a disloyal scumbag but has no business calling themselves a Labour Party member. Infighting within the party is one thing, feeding information to known Thatcherite ideologue in order to try to stitch up another party member is quite another and if this leak did come from someone on the inside then, whatever else happens, I do hope that someone inside the party is looking into the source of this leak and preparing the paperwork necessary for an expulsion.
Just because the next general election is a couple of years away doesn’t mean that the games not already afoot and it time that we started to wake up and realise that the internet is going to be a major campaigning tool at the next election and the time to start figuring out how we use it both to campaign ourselves to counter the media strategies of the opposition, and especially the Tories, is now and not six-eight weeks before the next election, when the date of the dissolution of Parliament is announced, because by then it’s going to be way too late.