Why the Labour party website should be shut down – it’s rubbish


8:45 am - October 5th 2011

by Sunny Hundal    


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Picture the scenario: your party’s annual conference has just finished. It’s been a year since the new leader took over and the shadow cabinet team have strong messages that need to get out to the public and party activists.

1) Do you publish their conference speeches on the website and update it with press releases and reactions to Tory announcements?

OR, 2) Do you produce and publish a series of one-page pamphlets (in PDF format) with simple, key messages from the party leader and shadow cabinet members, for the public and party activists?

I hope you’ve visited the Labour party website recently to see what I’m getting at. To be clear, I’m not blaming the people in Victoria street who update the site – but the site really needs to be shut down and built from scratch.

The problem goes quite high up.

The Labour party is still in broadcast mode from the time it was in power. There seems to be an assumption that party activists and the public will know of the party’s positions on issues from the mass-media.

Just before the May elections, when public sector cuts were the only topic of political conversation, I couldn’t find any easy-to-consume and distribute pamplets relating to Labour’s opposition to the cuts.

I’d written and published a few articles on Liberal Conspiracy pointing out why the cuts wouldn’t work. Some friends had produced the blindlingly simple The Cuts Won’t Work. Another group of us set up False Economy – to directly take on the government’s economic narratives. I know lots of people who printed these out instead.

During the NHS debate, did anyone see a short, simple document on the Labour site explaining why the party opposed the NHS bill? I still haven’t.

Too many senior Labour don’t seem to have realised that the Libdems are positioning themselves as the official party of opposition; they cannot rely just on television soundbites or press quotes to get their message across.

There is an army of activists, campaigners and sympathisers out there who can be communicated with easily, and they can then take the message out to the public.

The Labour party website should be scrapped and built anew. It is failing even in the basic task of informing people.

[Note: there is currently a review taking place at Victoria St of the party’s online operations, so the situation may change soon. But the above doesn’t require a new platform, but a new way of approaching the same medium.]

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Labour party ,Media ,Westminster

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Reader comments


Labour needs a whole new approach to websites and new media. It could really win on that front, but like most parties it’s stuck woefully in the past.

2. cynical/realist

“Just before the May elections, when public sector cuts were the only topic of political conversation, I couldn’t find any easy-to-consume and distribute pamplets relating to Labour’s opposition to the cuts.”

Probably because beyond the ‘too fast, too soon’ refrain no one in Labour had enough actual policy to put on a side of A4. Even if they did the font really big and had lots of pretty pictures.

A more serious problem is that the party hasn’t got a strong position on the cuts to public spending or the destruction of the NHS. it’s only really possible to communicate messages in a simple, user freindly way if – like False Economy etc – you have a simple and bold message. Labour doesn’t know where it stands on any of the big issues at the moment. Or, if it does, they don’t have a bold position distinct from the Coalition: welfare, housing, the economy, the NHS etc

Could do both, couldn’t you?

I’d imagine political party sites are difficult — lots of audiences, some of whom are mistrustful and downright hostile.

I do agree the party is in late 90s broadcast mode and resources are missing, but getting an open dialogue going is difficult. Just see EM’s G+ stream to see what I mean: every missive is swamped by Tories.

Indirect sites such as False Economy work a lot better.

Take the word website out of the article title and you’ve got something I’d agree with

1 and 2 together surely? Although, PDF? Are we living in the Dark Ages?

However, I would point to what Paul Evans has been saying about the usefulness of deniable outriders, and suggest that maybe a dullish official website works better in conjunction with those.

7. Rob the crip

What would labour say, we are against the strikes, vote for us we will borrow more. Do not worry the scroungers work shy pretend sick and disabled will be flogged, and if your middle class you can join for a £1.

What is Labour idea or policies, well according to labour we have the idea’s but we are not telling you

Just before the May elections, when public sector cuts were the only topic of political conversation, I couldn’t find any easy-to-consume and distribute pamplets relating to Labour’s opposition to the cuts.

Perhaps they knew then that it wouldn’t be long before they had to publicly admit they wouldn’t reverse the cuts. As they now have.

The Shadow Cabinet has been banned by Ed Balls from promising to reverse any of the Coalition Government’s spending cuts as part of Labour’s attempt to regain credibility on the economy.

In an interview with The Independent, the shadow Chancellor said: “No matter how much we dislike particular Tory spending cuts or tax rises, we can’t make promises now to reverse them. I’m clear that I won’t do that and neither will any of my Shadow Cabinet colleagues.”

It’s all very well for you and your mates, as irresponsible activists (and I mean that in a non-pejorative way) to indulge in a bit of populist opportunism. But for real-life politicians, today’s populist opportunism is tomorrow’s hostage to fortune.

9. Donut Hinge Party

What the site needs is a rebuttal section to counter the quick-fire platitudes that the Coalition keep rattling off.

Example: Labour lost 120 billion on gold.
Answer: Technically, he only ‘lost’ money based on the price up to May 2010. Any other ‘losses’ are incurred by Geoge Osborne who failed to buy gold then. However, the money raised by this sale, as advised by the Bank of England was used to buy a more diverse portfolio which continues to appreciate.

Example: Labour stole my pension.
Answer: The Labour government removed the tax breaks for pensions over a certain amount. This put the financial responsibility on the pension providers to make up the short fall. Unfortunately, as many of them had taken pension ‘holidays’ in the 1990’s, and were unwilling to garnish their own profits, guaranteed pension schemes were poorly underwritten and many folded or were forced to offer less than previously planned.

Example: Labour overspent on Welfare.
Answer: Labour spent less on welfare than the previous Conservative governments, largely because unemployment was so much lower.

Example: Labour created the largest debt in the UK since the 1920’s
Answer: The pound has always appreciated in the UK. In 1920 a house could be bought for £850, for example, which makes any comparison with that year meaningless. As a percentage of GDP, the amount of debt was almost exactly the same at 2008 than it was in 1997.

Example: Labour brought in rights which meant that immigrants could stay in this country if they had cats.
Answer: Teresa May is a nutcase who wants to govern by tabloid headlines.

That kind of thing.

Agreed.

Before we even get to a discussion on policy,there is a staggering incompetence about the way labour is running itself, the entire communications section is unfit for purpose and the shadow cabinet seem to be merely waiting for the next generation to mature and take their place.

I argued a while back that party leaders should get a probationary period once appointed (like any other job) to demonstrate their ability to do the job. I prefered Ed to David, but I’d have to say he has failed to deliver. The depressing thing is I can’t see anybody else being able to replace him.

agree with option 5. Schmidt!

Donut Hinge 🙂

I don’t think I have ever looked at the Labour Party website ever before today.
It just never occured to me.

Forget about the facts about Labour’s website, the party should shut itself down. They’re rubbish….

Dear Sunny

The Labour Parrty website should inspire people to join, and remain full voting members. To this end I commend the Labour Democratic Network, and the Labour Transparency Project.

But be warned, this is not the time to throw the proverbial socialist baby out with the nerdy bathwater. I spoke to a staffer who shall remain nameless at Conference who introduced me to a facility to enable CLP secretaries to eMail their members using a facility somewhere on the Labour Party website.

I’m just about to check it out and will report back later. Lurking in the Labour Party online offering are datasets of immense value to an entirely different web presence. One that Labour e-literates will get in a flash.

Yours in the pan

Peter Kenyon
secretary, Labour Democratic Network

I brought this up with Computing for Labour at the party-conference and was referred to their forum for “discussion and debate”. Not what is needed. Someone up top needs to wake up, accept that the site is a fail from groundup, accept that the whole damned party structure is messed up and start again from scratch. Excellent post Sunny- and as someone who has repeatedly offered to help now, only to be given the runabout or ignored completely, I seriously can’t understand the party’s objection. Suicide by bureaucratic egoism.

I have just posted a copy of a note previously in limited circulation concerning the Labour Transparency Project entitled:

A new Labour Party web presence: an opening gambit – http://bit.ly/pklVjG < a +ve response 2 – it’s rubbish http://bit.ly/oWkZrA


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Why the Labour party website should be shut down – it's rubbish http://t.co/uGaudXBd

  2. Liberal Conspiracy

    Why the Labour party website should be shut down – it's rubbish http://t.co/uGaudXBd

  3. Stace

    I've been saying this forever! — RT @libcon: Why the Labour party website should be shut down – it's rubbish http://t.co/EPqcfYao

  4. Nick Forbes

    Why the Labour party website should be shut down – it's rubbish http://t.co/uGaudXBd

  5. Duncan Hothersall

    Good point, well made, from @libcon: the Labour party website needs drastic change. http://t.co/MqZS0mIv #labour

  6. sunny hundal

    What the Labour party's website says about its outlook and why it should be shut down http://t.co/BW31l182

  7. David Butler

    What the Labour party's website says about its outlook and why it should be shut down http://t.co/BW31l182

  8. Louise

    What the Labour party's website says about its outlook and why it should be shut down http://t.co/BW31l182

  9. Anthony Parker

    What the Labour party's website says about its outlook and why it should be shut down http://t.co/BW31l182

  10. Anthony Parker

    RT @sunny_hundal: What Labour party's website says abt its outlook & why it shld be shut down http://t.co/a62jWHhw <I agree, it needs change

  11. Pete Woodward

    Why the Labour party website should be shut down – it's rubbish http://t.co/uGaudXBd

  12. matt jordan

    Why the Labour party website should be shut down – it's rubbish http://t.co/uGaudXBd

  13. matt jordan

    Why the Labour party website should be shut down – it's rubbish http://t.co/uGaudXBd

  14. Ben Humphrys

    Why the Labour party website should be shut down – it's rubbish http://t.co/uGaudXBd

  15. Ben Humphrys

    Why the Labour party website should be shut down – it's rubbish http://t.co/uGaudXBd

  16. Paul Kindred

    What the Labour party's website says about its outlook and why it should be shut down http://t.co/BW31l182

  17. Matthew Reeve

    "@sunny_hundal: What the Labour party's website says about its outlook and why it should be shut down http://t.co/tfu0ITfJ&quot;

  18. Duncan Rothwell

    Why the Labour party website should be shut down – it's rubbish http://t.co/uGaudXBd

  19. HouseOfTwitsLab

    RT @sunny_hundal What the Labour party's website says about its outlook and why it should be shut down http://t.co/19lcT7rc

  20. House Of Twits

    RT @sunny_hundal What the Labour party's website says about its outlook and why it should be shut down http://t.co/HIZdld9m

  21. TheCreativeCrip

    Why the Labour party website should be shut down – it's rubbish http://t.co/uGaudXBd

  22. Barry Kirby

    RT @sunny_hundal What the Labour party's website says about its outlook and why it should be shut down http://t.co/19lcT7rc

  23. TheCreativeCrip

    RT @sunny_hundal What the Labour party's website says about its outlook and why it should be shut down http://t.co/HIZdld9m

  24. Rocky Hamster

    sometimes i think they want the tories to win the next election http://t.co/zLFjadPg via @libcon

  25. sunny hundal

    Why the Labour party website should be shut down – it's rubbish http://t.co/BW31l182 (my article from this morning)

  26. paulstpancras

    Why the Labour party website should be shut down – it's rubbish http://t.co/BW31l182 (my article from this morning)

  27. Steve

    Why the Labour party website should be shut down – it's rubbish http://t.co/BW31l182 (my article from this morning)

  28. Peter Maguire

    RT@libcon: Why the Labour party website should be shut down-it's rubbish http://t.co/7dV6Byac
    Labour Party should listen to some good advice

  29. Jason Mcintyre

    This! RT @sunny_hundal Why the Labour party website should be shut down – it's rubbish http://t.co/3ZncYS3x (my article from this morning)

  30. Chris McCray

    @tamsinchan Have you seen http://t.co/u2ytULpU on how Labour are doing t'interwebs etc? @sunny_hundal is spot on – it's not engaging at all!

  31. Luke Bozier

    I've been banging on about this for yrs, @sunny_hundal is right: Labour's still not doing digital as well as it should http://t.co/JzueNqBz

  32. sunny hundal

    I've been banging on about this for yrs, @sunny_hundal is right: Labour's still not doing digital as well as it should http://t.co/JzueNqBz

  33. Tundun Adeyemo

    I've been banging on about this for yrs, @sunny_hundal is right: Labour's still not doing digital as well as it should http://t.co/JzueNqBz

  34. Grahame Morris

    Labour's online presence in desperate need of modernisation via @sunny_hundal http://t.co/nZyrLmfw
    to assist activists & campaigners

  35. Peter Kenyon

    A new Labour Party web presence: an opening gambit – http://t.co/oRipDIZZ < a +ve response 2 – it’s rubbish http://t.co/EJPPODnf

  36. Labour Dem Net

    A new Labour Party web presence: an opening gambit – http://t.co/oRipDIZZ < a +ve response 2 – it’s rubbish http://t.co/EJPPODnf

  37. sunny hundal

    Wonder who said Labour should start producing slick, short pamphlets on specific issues like jobs… http://t.co/P6W8gU3c





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