Has Martin Kettle been brainwashed by Andy Coulson?

Derek Draper, in a stinging rebuke to Martin Kettle who writes in today’s Guardian that David Cameron is a ‘progressive’. I know Tim is not happy with Derek, but this is precisely the sort of piece that LabourList should be publishing. I know columnists like Mr Kettle are paid to be all counter-intuitive and clever in their analysis but in the digital age, there is plenty of room for political activists to tell these guys when they’re talking nonsense.

14 thoughts on “Has Martin Kettle been brainwashed by Andy Coulson?”

  1. The Guardian is a paper I despise. It makes out it is trendy and progressive but has long been a mouthpiece for Tories in all but name.
    I live in one of the most Tory areas of the West Country and can tell all these silly know nothing journalists that the Tory party has not changed one iota.
    The Tories are being backed on the ground and at the very top by the bloodsports fraternity (aka the Countryside Alliance) who wish to overturn the Hunting Act. If Mr Kettle would like to spend a few days down here I can show him the real face of the Tory party and believe me it isn’t pretty and its certainly not progressive.

  2. Whatever case he has, it’s undermined by his bad habit of using dishonest tactics to gain advantage in online conversations. He can’t blame his newbie status on it, even now.

    You know my position on this; bloggers who misuse moderation to present the illusion that certain arguments or claims have gone unchallenged do not deserve our trust. If they then turn on their accusers while refusing to explain any of their clearly unacceptable behaviour, then… well, that differs from blogger to blogger.

    Again, a little research might’ve come in handy.

  3. I know the point you make Tim but I have a different analysis that I think outweighs you’re concern about comment moderation.

    1. He’s giving an honest pitch in that he is exactly what he says on the tin – a strong Labour supporter with a belief that the Tories do bad things.
    2. LabourList is not really a blog – more a bar for Labour club for sympathisers who occasionally bring their mates in as guests. ConservativeHome is similar. Critically, his site is not run by an operative of the party machine.
    3. He’s new to the online world and therefore still getting his intertube tone right.
    4. Labour List got targeted by the objectionable sock puppets of you-know-who. He started the site without any comment moderation. This clearly demonstrates that he is new to the medium, as only a chimp would do such a dumb thing with a site like his.

    You’re right on a central point. He did run headlong into the project when a few baby steps would have helped. So everything he does to the site from now on will be scrutinised to bits.

    There is a counter argument to this though. Labour activists don’t have enough time to tip-toe along on the internet, knowing that Ashcroft funded Conservative Central Office will be hiring dozens of digital people to storm the digitial realm at the next election. We know he already funds some big Tory bloggers.

    I’d be less harsh on him. He’s working hard on his site, displaying good analysis and providing satirical videos that show signs of being funny one day.

  4. 1. But it’s not an honest pitch. He is not doing what he says he is doing. He makes out that he is open to challenge and debate, and then clearly shuns this or dodges it wherever possible.

    2. If it’s not a blog then he should stop calling it one.

    3. It’s not all about the overall screw-up, but how he’s conducted himself throughout.

    4. Draper started out grouping me with that lot, and now he’s started throwing their bullshit at me and acting just like them. Forget him.

    He’s not tough; he’s mean.

    He’s not clever; he’s a cheat.

    And his videos suck. No wonder whoever makes them hasn’t got the balls to put their name on them.

    I’m also less than impressed that the shiny new Labour new media new warrior taskforce attack squad has only finally gone into beta now that the government can comfortably afford to take a morally defensible position on matters such as Iraq and torture.

    Anyone could have cobbled something better than this together years ago. All that was missing was the will. Suddenly, after all this time, it’s time to ‘engage’?

    Draper’s antics aside, the whole project leaves one feeling just a bit cheated.

  5. Awww, mate, it’s not *that* bad. Mrs W. is dragging me to Morrisons. I’ll post a more detailed defence later.

  6. He [Draper] has stopped publishing my comments – even the ones where I am supportive of him – I suppose that’s fair, you can’t call him a hypocrite in that tone.

    He did, and as far as I can tell, still does call it a blog – I’m with Tim, if it isn’t a blog stop calling it one.

    I know that I am critical of this Labour government, and that is because I don’t see them as a Labour government – yet it is true that Miliband has refurbished the old site to make it anew. And still you see that you cannot be critical of this government on either site – how is that ‘engaging’ the population, Tom?

    OK – YOU have to follow the party line, that is understandable, though not what I would expect. You have a constituency that you should be representing – not the party line, but that is another debate.

    LabourList and sites like that are no more than a place to slap the governments/party members back. Is that how you really want to engage the public, Tom?

    At least I have to give credit where credit is due – you eventually publish comments on here. Time withstanding.

    Draper does not – and that is his “blogs” failing – and his.

  7. Tim,

    Morrisons was a a generalisation that included the playing of Super Mario Galaxy, castles and dinosaurs and then extended to a union conference and lunch in Birmingham. It’s a two kids/busy job thing.

    1. At the end of the day it’s his site. The terms of debate are down to him to set, and from experience, it is hard to be precise about how you deal with comments. He’s new to this stuff though and it’s going to take time for the site to settle down.

    2. Agreed.

    3 & 4. Yes, I saw that, though you did kind of grab him by the lapels on his first day at work. You usually give the bad people a bit of friendly advice and then a warning before they get the ‘treatment’. His response was to dismiss you, which under the circumstances, was a mistake.

    As you know, I have on occasion, been the subject of online attack from some of the “New Labour warriors” you identify. Some of those New Labour warriors have in the past, vented their anger with me using the comment section of this site, their blogs, as well as more dubious means of online engagement. In fact, I’ve been told that one new media specialist was organising the “blogs of war” at one point in recent history.

    So I don’t think it’s a new “morally defensible position” that established a loose alliance of Labour bloggers now. I think it is the prospect of David Cameron winning the next election.

    I know you don’t really want David Cameron to win the next election.

    So as George Mitchell famously said, there is no conflict that cannot be ended. Why not help him get the site right?

  8. 1. He doesn’t stick to his stated terms. And there’s no newbie-status, platform nuance or fine-tuning of moderation policy to the argument; he’s a cheat.

    3&4. First day at work? He’s been embarrassing himself and your party since he first started sniffing around Staines. And he’s had plenty of chances.

    If I’m ever responsible for “dubious means of online engagement” in future, please do speak up and object to any specifics that alarm you. Ditto if you find yourself the victim of same, and I’m not there to help.

    And the prospect of David Cameron winning the next election has been a factor for at least a year. I still question the timing of this latest charm offensive.

    I also reserve the right to be offended by it.

    What little Draper knows, he learned from watching a neighbourhood full of blog-cheats in action. He’s playing a rigged game, while claiming to be a representative of all that is right and good about blogging.

    The impact of this goes beyond the private property under his control, especially if his intention is to become a major channel… and it becomes something of a priority to me personally when he and his ‘professional’ associates decide to address my concerns by bad-mouthing me online or around the village.

    If that’s the way he’s going to play ball, I’m going to be playing against him no matter which side he claims to be on.

  9. Well, you’ll win then but I wager it will be a hollow victory.

    Just to clarify, the “dubious means” quote wasn’t about you. It was about a small number of people who went ballistic online when I resigned. Long story, best forgotten.

  10. Thanks for clarifying.

    This community would be more resilient to that kind of thing if enough bloggers stood against it, regardless of side.

    The alternative is to spend most of the next general election campaign all yelling ‘sock puppet’ at each other. That’s a playing field where true bastards flourish, Tom. I fret about that sometimes.

  11. IMO, John Prescott’s online offering is great. The key word being (appearing) ‘humble’ rather than, owh, ‘arrogant’.

    LL really is just for the choir and obviously partisan with a touch of elitist.

    How is this going to help win against the Tories? I don’t get it. I don’t get the proposition.

    And was the Huffpost comparison suggested by them? Now a UK version of that would be a good idea …

  12. If only from watching events unfold from afar, however digitally well-intentioned LabourList is, is simply going to preach to the already converted… or else rile a not-ever-for-converting opposition?

    The challenge – in terms of Labour messaging in the run-up to any election – is to find a way for individual constituent MPs to hit their individual constituents; the playground mums community that have long ago given up buying their local evening paper and will ‘source’ their news via FaceBook pals, the MumsNet messageboards etc… none of whom, I suspect, will ever stumble across LabourList.

    The kit, the theory and the people are there to do it. Charlie Clarke videoboos his postcode-tagged ‘message’ once a week into http://www.mylocalwriter.com/norwich/nr2 – puts his face, his thoughts and his election hopes right in the midst of that playground electorate… and his Tory rival for Norwich South videoboos the same… as does every other Labour MP into his own constituency. That’s the kind of digital reaching out that, IMHO, took Obama to the White House, more than a LabourList might.

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