High-ups in the Labour party watched as online politics flared into life, and wondered why it was the political right who were making most of the running. As the Tory blogger Tim Montgomerie argued in these pages yesterday, they thus made plans that ignored the key reason why some of us spend far too much time reading even the most arcane political blogs: their independence. Derek Draper's LabourList website flags itself up as an 'independent grassroots e-network', but he is too close to the government to truly walk the walk; the planned Red Rag site was predicated not only on the daft idea that people would give credence to online gossip authored in Downing Street, but McBride would somehow get away with it.
The underlying mistake was obvious: the idea that you could somehow square the essentially pluralistic, chaotic online culture with a modus operandi still stuck somewhere between Lenin and Mayor Daley. The two simply don't fit: thanks to the web, the political world is changing beyond recognition, and the tireless zealots who populate the online world increasingly make old-fashioned fixes very difficult indeed.
But the fix is not that difficult. We just need to formulate how to make The DailyKos format work in the UK.