Saturday, February 07, 2009

Derek Draper - getting his canvass data in early?

There has been much puzzlement, and not a little anger, with the recent activities of Derek Draper who, in following Iain Dale's Twitter feed and then deciding to follow everyone who follows it, has impressed upon many that he doesn't really get it. Alright, it should be said that, from his perspective, there is little to be lost by annoying a bunch of Tories and Lib Dems. One presumes that he is learning something from this.

It is interesting though that his appearance coincides with Labour proposals to monitor and retain our e-mail correspondence. Now I'm not a conspiracy theorist - who needs one when you have Guido and his band of cranky, foul-mouthed renegades - but I'm astonished that nobody has suggested that the two are linked.

Naturally, access to the e-mail addresses and written thoughts of millions of citizens would give any who had it a unique perspective on the way we think, would allow them to accurately determine political allegiances and to eavesdrop on internal party communications. How could anyone believe that our Government, or a Government of the future, could ever abuse such a database? Who would believe that such data could be lost, stolen or even sold? Perhaps, as a Revenue & Customs official, I shouldn't answer that question...

Alright, I'm not being entirely serious, partly because I just can't believe that such a thing would happen. However, if you create a tool, it is not unreasonable to think that someone might use it.

Returning to Derek Draper though, his rather blundering efforts thus far have providing some entertainment. I for one don't presume that he has some Svengali-like influence over the Labour Party's e-campaigning - let's face it, he's had a rather overblown sense of his own importance for some time.

So, let him build a reputation. If it is a positive one, he'll become a counterbalance to the blogging legions of the Right. If it is negative, he'll achieve a degree of notoriety, and a solid if unspectacular readership base, until someone better comes along. The blogosphere needs a credible multiplicity of views, and for all of his failings as displayed so far, if he helps to provide a platform for new, fresh voices, we may end up owing him a small debt of gratitude.


Derek Draper said...


by the way, offering people a chance to follow me who follow "racism apologist" dale seems to be a) fair b) a good idea and c) precisely how social networking is supposed to work

Mark Valladares said...


I have no mandate to defend Iain. However, I tend to the view that 'racism apologist' is a bit strong.

There are two points to be made here. If the BBC intend to draw a line about offensive behaviour, it needs to be a consistent one - I remain unconvinced that they are anywhere near establishing consistency yet.

Secondly, they need to establish clear guidelines as to what constitutes offensive behaviour. That, I admit, isn't easy, but let's have the debate. After all, it is 'our' broadcaster.

If I might make a suggestion though, I think that you are confusing social networking with viral marketing. If your product is a good one, a combination of good writing, some Google advertising, and establishing a network of links is likely to be less offensive and, to be blunt, parasitic, than riding on Iain's coattails.

If you are as good as you say you are, you can work your media contacts and political allies to do some of that marketing for you - references to your postings or blog in their's, media diary coverage, that sort of thing.

Iain can't make or break a blogger, although on the rare occasions that he has referenced me, my readership has risen substantially. However, he is, certainly be the standards of the Conservative blogosphere, pretty fair. If you're doing good work, consistently, you may get some traffic your way. It certainly won't hurt you to treat him civilly. If he is rude, you are free to be rude back...

Good luck though, you and your fellow Labour bloggers have a lot of ground to make up. Perhaps a period in opposition will free you all to do some quality attack blogging...

Welcome to the blogosphere...

Chris Paul said...

I agree with Mark to an extent actually Derek. I think it is quite right and proper that you explore web 2.0 in any which way you choose and recruiting other people's facebook friends, following twitterers followers and so on and so forth - all sensible enough.

Though mostly listening might have been better. "seek first to understand" said the "feelgood quack" (tm wotsit former head of Demos) Stephen Covey.

Clearly Carol Thatcher was going down the road of let's call it "casual racism" here. No-one I've seen has said so but she may have been the worse for wear, and was certainly giddy and stupid enough to drop the term (and Frog) into offended people's earshot FOUR TIMES.

But she probably needed a quiet word rather than a sacking and a media storm. The realisation of the trouble she's in could have been her own to experience. But getting all this incoming fire she is inevitably retrenching as are her friends. And that's what Iain's like. He's right wing Tory on everything but (some) gay rights/gay equality matters. He's weak at arithmetic, logic, policy, polling, economics etc. Very much a microcosm of the Tory Muppetry at large.

There are others like myself challenging some of his output some of the time. Way more than half his output deserves rebuttal. But in fact he's mostly reaching the converted and he's not a factor in the real fight. Unlike Conservative Home. Still mostly internal comms, but more respectable.

And so this might be best left alone for an independent yet serious Labour and essentially political not gossip-driven Blog? Just a few days until the official launch. Mostly positive direction of travel. Except for this little spat splashed everywhere. What specifically about that is a good idea Derek?

I've got the pair of you down as Blog and Mablog (cf Gog and Magog) - giants bestriding the political blogosphere. But perhaps Finn Macool should be the model for you though Derek? A giant, but a good giant.

It's not at that link but Finn saw off the nassy Scottish Giant without having to fight him - having realised that he was in fact a whole lot bigger than himself - by pretending to be his own baby, lying low and silent and implying that he Finn was bigger and better than the opposition.

Iain Dale is god's gift to Labour. Essentially he is a window into the true soul of the slightly more decent (but still wrong!) elements of the Tory party, with Guido there for the darker elements. But while I tease him as TLPFTB (The Labour Party's Favourite Tory Blogger) I think you'd be wise to avoid becoming TCPFLB - at least in the context of LabourList.

There I go breaking all the rules. Providing advice without permission. But hopefully that won't be a problem among friends.

I think Darryl Pinckney has this whole Golliwog thing well thought through in today's Guardian/CiF. Linked from the first link above. Worth listening to I feel.