Well, what I should do is finish off some work and listen to Sheffield United vs Nottingham Forest in the hope that the Tricky Trees snatch a vital away win.
However, after the implosion of the weekend, one thing is clear, Labour’s going to need a new online strategy.
So here’s my tuppenceworth on what to do next, and because everyone’s looking over the pond at the moment, I’ve included a few US examples to follow too.
Now, funnily enough, I think Derek D understands much of this, and Labourlist has publicised many of the people below and beneath all the controversy has done some good work, which Derek deserves credit for he’s unlikely to get at the moment. But I think it’s pretty clear we need a reboot.
So here’s my suggestions:
Let the party machine focus on the really important stuff. What really matters for the election is voter contact in marginal seats. The party machine should be focussed 100% on this, and I think is. For the party all the blogs, websites, media splashes and all the rest is far less important than doing this well. Using the internet to allow people to download leaflets, do calling to target seats from home, learn how to set up leaflet rounds or organise canvassing sessions, all re-inforced by quality central messaging.
US inspiration: What Obama’s e-campaigns team really did, not what people with consultancy gigs to sell tell us they did.
Brits we should be encouraging: the people in Victoria Street online team trying to build programmes that make it easy for activists to do phone canvassing.
We win on content, not gutter politics. What the left in Britain needs is content rich stuff that can then be popularised and shared. As Alistair Campbell has said (and his media advice today is on the money too, unsurprisingly), the Tories are weakest on policy. We take the fight to them on those grounds and we can win. We get into the gutter, and politics loses, which means we lose.
Rebuttal means votes: The cynics, the anonymous smear merchants, the Swift Boat veterans – they’ll always be there and they have to be confronted otherwise their material finds its way into the discourse. but the way to deal with them is to bring the smears into the light, not get into the gutter with them.
If Labour is concerned by the way innuendo and smears and untrue negative stories spread into the lobby and wants a site to deal with Paul Staines and his ilk – then we should set up a site devoted to cataloguing and exposing the smears, and directing lazy journalists to it, not try to come up with worse smears of our own.
US inspiration: Media Matters, a US site devoted to to help the truth get its boots on faster.
Content doesn’t have to be boring: Right, I know I’m probably the wrong person to talk about this, because I’m fond of thousand word posts on arcane subjects like the interest rate zero bound, but in the hands of the right person, content is funny, sharp, incisive and effective. You need people like this to spread ideas, to make stuff more public and to make the important interesting and funny.
US inspiration: Atrios
Community unleashes great ideas, but it takes work: The great thing about developing online communities is that people come up with brilliant stuff. They find out stories. They do great stunts, they do fantastic analysis. Our supporters are pretty bloody talented and smart. Sure, they’ll do stuff the party disagrees with and at times the argument will feel not worth the candle, but engaging with people gives the ability to generate campaigns, content and ideas is so valuable – and so is building support more widely, especially at times when things are awkward or you’re being criticised.
US inspiration: Kos
Brits we should be encouraging: Labour Women, Liberal conspiracy, Blackburn labour, and yes, LabourList, which now it can’t allowitself to be seen as a tool of the high command has a chance of becoming the grassroots e-network it was supposed to be.
(God, this sounds like a job application. I may add a few more elements to this later, especially if people mention other parts of good online strategy I’ve missed. Also I apologise in advance for all the good people and sites I’ve forgotten in my haste, Add ’em in the comments.)