There will be a short test at the end.
Posit. I am Derek Draper.
I am tasked with setting up a blog for the Labour party, a blog which will have the professionalism of Conservativehome and the authentic grassroots flavour of Lib Dem Voice, a blog which will challenge the contention that the left has run out of intellectual steam and retake control of the political internet.
I have three big problems. (1) Everybody hates me, (2) most people hate Labour, (3) certain individuals who fall into groups (1) and (2) already have extremely powerful political blogs and will not hesitate to pour guano over a new Labour contender. After all, the failure of Labourhome to make the grade is well documented in the blogosphere, acknowledged by Blears herself no less. Bloody Blears.
What do I do?
I create a blog called Labourlist.org. A blog associated overwhelmingly with my personal – and tarnished – brand. A blog whose very name indicates a lurching, sinking motion. A blog so comically badly designed that techies all over the internet twitter in disbelief about how rubbish it is. A blog which quickly descends, in its comment moderation policy, into the kind of tinpot authoritarianism that the likes of Guido and Dale are just itching to catch a whiff off.
I do all this.
I let it stew a while.
Then, just as the rest of the political internet has finished wiping its eyes and laughing itself sick… another blog appears. This one does not have quite such a ridiculous name. This one uses a smooth, shiny, WordPress-ready template with no hitches or glitches. This one is not run by me. In fact it is run by “grassroots activists” who are expressly opposed to my heavy comment moderation policy. I have “kindly agreed” to share the content of Labourlist, so that they may, in effect, run a blog in direct competition to mine except with a more welcoming comment moderation policy.
Result. A blog that everyone is suddenly inclined to praise, or at least meet with an open mind, because it is run by “grassroots activists”, because it is open to allcomers. And above all because it’s nothing to do with me. And no matter how bad it gets, it can never be as bad as that original repository of internet hatred, Labourlist.
Cunning, eh? I must report back to Lord M.
Phew. Yuck. It is I, Mortimer again. Here is your test: which is the scarier possibility? Is it (a) that I am right in drawing the above scenario or (b) that I am not right and Draper and co really are that rubbish?