Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Mystery Deepens: Who Funds LabourList?

Well that's a first. Labour press officers have spent the afternoon touring the parliamentary lobby pointing journalists to my blog. And in particular the blogpost below in which Ray Collins seeks to distance himself (although the whole things was his idea) and the Labour Party from Draper, even though LabourList's launch was held at the Labour Party's HQ in Victoria Street. You'll remember the occasion. Mr Draper pinned Guardian journalist David Hencke up against a wall. What they may not have mentioned to the assorted lobby hacks was David Singleton's story in PR Week last September...
PRWeek can reveal that the Labour Party is exploring plans for an online rapid rebuttal unit, designed to kill off damaging stories circulating in the blogosphere. Former lobbyist Derek Draper will oversee the initiative, having recently been called in by Labour's general secretary to advise on how the party can communicate its message.

Labour strategists are keen to respond to the growing influence of right-wing blogs. The eventual system could resemble a modern-day version of Labour's famous Excalibur unit, which was successfully used to kill negative stories by Tory-supporting newspapers in the run-up to the 1997 general election.

Draper will meet sympathetic bloggers and web-savvy political campaigners over the next few months to thrash out the details. 'I want to get together an informal group of people to talk about online rebuttal,' he told a fringe event at the Labour Party conference. 'We'll sit round a table and say: what is it we need to do and how can we do it in a practical way?'
The initiative was the idea of Labour Party general secretary Ray Collins. He personally recruited Derek Draper to head it up. All the meetings were held at Labour HQ and were attended by senior Labour Party personnel.

Collins is now frantically backpeddling and is keen to throw the spotlight elsewhere - and in particular onto Charlie Whelan and UNITE.

On the Daily Politics in March Derek Draper told Andrew Neil that LabourList was quite open about its finances and funders. Who are they then? asked Neil. "We haven't published them yet," said Draper.

Up to now it has been assumed that UNITE, through Charlie Whelan, was their main funder. But what's this? UNITE have told lobby journalists this afternoon that they emphatically do not fund LabourList.

I have tried to elicit from LabourList who their funders are but have been stonewalled. I am told that other unions are involved.

ConservativeHome is quite open about its funding. Why isn't LabourList?

UPDATE: Tory Bear has some insider gossip on this and suggests that LabourList hasn't actually had any funding

67 comments:

Tom said...

"ConservativeHome is quite open about its funding."

I didn't know that. Who funds it?

John said...

Well that's strange. Everyone thought and has been openly saying that it's UNITE, and Derek Draper have been allowing people to say it's UNITE without correcting them.

Why is this I wonder? The plot thickens....

Iain Dale said...

Stephan Shakespeare. He owns it.

Matthew Cain said...

"The initiative was the idea of Labour Party general secretary Ray Collins. He personally recruited Derek Draper to head it up."

Any evidence of that?

gaw said...

Sorry to go off topic but as I haven't seen it addressed anywhere else (for understandable McB-related reasons!) I wondered whether I could so so here?

Last Saturday commentators in The Guardian expended a fair bit of effort in blaming Thatcherism for the credit crunch. In doing so they were contributing to what is developing into a new orthodoxy on the left. This is a more serious-minded but nevertheless unjustified historical smear that needs rebuttal.

I have done so here: http://gawragbag.blogspot.com/2009/04/last-saturdaythe-guardian-did-number-of.html

Tom said...

Fair enough. I always wondered why you needed any money at all to run a blog, but I guess ConHome is the answer to that particular criticism of LabourList.

Iain Dale said...

You dont need money to run a blog. However, they have two full time staff.

Mine costs me nothing to run, apart from minor design tweaks from time to time.

Tom said...

Oh, sure - it's just that when people like Guido attack LabourList for being funded at all, they should be attacking ConHome too. No?

Iain Dale said...

I am not aware he has attacked it for being funded per se.

MANTEX said...

Here's what it says on the LabourList site about its own funding:

Financial Statement

We receive no money from the Labour party and are funded by advertising, sponsorship and donations. We are exploring, with the Electoral Commission, our precise obligations re: declarations of funding, and will abide by any relevant laws, rules and regulations. Whatever legal requirements we are judged to be under we will, in any event, each year, publish a full list of those who have donated towards our work. We are a non-profit organisation and all monies received are invested into the growth of the site.

no longer anonymous said...

Tom, I believe Guido attacks LabourList for being funded by the Labour Party and is therefore not an independent grass-roots blog. Conversely, ConHome is independent of the Conservative Party.

Ethelred the Unhinged said...

If LabourList is not funded by the Labour party, as he has always claimed, then who does fund it? Perhaps Dolly would like to take the opportunity to clear this up.

And this embarrassing problem he has. Could it be that he is always embarrassing, or could it be something else? Perhaps he could come clean on that too, while he's at it.

Unsworth said...

That is exactly the question I repeatedly asked Draper here on this blog when this whole nonsense started.

And it's exactly the question he repeatedly refused to answer....

Rab C. Nesbitt said...

'Tom' is a member of the Rapid Rebuttal Unit mentioned in Iain's post. They are so bloody obvious.

Oscar Miller said...

The plot does indeed thicken. At this rate Labour will be denying the existence of LabourList. And maybe Derek Draper is just a figment of our imagination.

trevorsden said...

Mantex - why would they need to ask the electoral commission about funding?

If there are no full time staff at LL then why would they need any funding. I seem to recall Draper saying he would do it for free (well in return for the odd lunch with The Leader.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

"Follow the Money" "What did he know and when did he know it" "Ratfucking"

De ja vu. Bring it on.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iucE78-C2Po

jailhouselawyer said...

The Prison Service tends to hide behind contractual confidentiality, I am surprised Donal Blaney is not raising this legal defence.

Iain Dale said...

As I understand it there are two full time staff at LL. But I stand to be corrected by Tom. Who I believe is one of them.

James Graham (Quaequam Blog!) said...

Legally, surely LabourList (and indeed all partisan blogs) is a 'regulated donee' as defined in the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 and therefore required by law to publish its funding sources over and above £5,000?

Ian said...

There is no necessary relationship, as you can host your website anywhere, but hosted on the same server as Labour List are:

davidcameronseconomicpolicy.com, davidcameronseconomicpolicy.co.uk and toryeconomics.com

All of which are registered to (according to freereverseip.com and whois.domaintools.com):

The Labour Party
39 Victoria St...

What a happy coincidence.

Humpty Dumpty said...

I obviously missed something - there's http://www.labourlist.org/ and http://www.labourist.org/

What's that all about, then?

Jimmy said...

Of course for all I know it could be jointly funded by the governments of Cuba and North Korea, or perhaps in the interest of balance as a charitable project of the Bank of Selize. Anything is possible but the likeliest explanation would be some permutation of unions or other supportive bodies or individuals.

So what?

MANTEX said...

trevorsden said...

Mantex - why would they need to ask the electoral commission about funding?

Presumably this is a typically spin-doctorish way of saying "We are squeaky clean" whilst exploring the possibility of keeping the information hidden?

If there are no full time staff at LL then why would they need any funding.

Well - exactly! You can run a blog for NOTHING. Lots of us do.

Rab C. Nesbitt said...

How's the bunker Jimmy?

Tim said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Simon Gardner said...

Prams/toys etc

Humpty Dumpty said...

Ooh, I LOVE people having hissy fits in public - it shows that someone has managed to touch a nerve!

Tim said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
John said...

@Iain Dale
You dont need money to run a blog. However, they have two full time staff.

Mine costs me nothing to run, apart from minor design tweaks from time to time.
Well, that's not strictly true is it?

Your "blog layout" images are hosted over at Total Politics. So every visit to your site is also a visit to the Total Politics server to download your blogs layout.

So whoever is paying for the Total Politics server is also paying for much of your blog's bandwidth, Google obviously picking up the rest for free as part of the Blogger service.

JuliaM said...

"Ooh, I LOVE people having hissy fits in public..."Yeah, it's amusing the first couple of times someone does it.

The 2000th? Not so much...

Sean said...
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Tim said...
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Tim said...
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Humpty Dumpty said...

Hmmm, interesting - seems so many cages have been rattled in the last few days that they've sent the spoilers in; they've missed the obvious conclusion, which is that you only do that when you're desperate.

Prodicus said...

Humpty -
The story goes something like this:

LabourIST was set up by Labour people who, at the off, hated the way Draper was running LabourList. They thought he had made a lot of (self-serving) cock-ups on a site which Labour people might actually find useful. (A ConHome me-too.) Inter alia, Draper wouldn't allow comment, at first.

They decided to set up a mirror site (at least that's how ist began) and do properly the job of which Draper, in their view, had made (if you'll pardon the expression) such a Balls-up.

The Ists have moved on a bit since then.

Humpty Dumpty said...

Prodicus - thanks for clearing that up, I'm obliged!

Tim said...
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Unsworth said...
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Tim said...
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Paul Pinfield said...

Humpty Dumpty got me thinking...

Each of the domains below are hosted on the same server as LabourList. They are all registered to the Labour party. They are also all registered via easily.co.uk. Wasn't Red Rag registered via easily.co.uk? How far removed is Red Rag from the Labour party?

Domain name:
davidcameronseconomicpolicy.co.uk

Registrant:
The Labour Party

Registrant type:
Unknown

Registrant's address:
39 Victoria Street
London
SW1H 0HA
GB

Registrar:
Easily Limited t/a easily.co.uk [Tag = WEBCONSULTANCY]
URL: http://www.easily.co.uk

Relevant dates:
Registered on: 09-Jan-2009
Renewal date: 09-Jan-2011

Registration status:
Registered until renewal date.

Name servers:
dns0.easily.co.uk
dns1.easily.co.uk

Registrant:

The Labour Party
39 Victoria Street

London
SW1H 0HA
UK

Domain name: toryeconomics.com

Created on: 2009-01-09
Expires on: 2011-01-09

Administrative contact:
Easily Limited
3rd Floor, Prospero House
241 Borough High Street
London
SE1 1GA
UK
+44.8704589450
+44.8704589458


Technical contact:
Easily Limited
3rd Floor, Prospero House
241 Borough High Street
London
SE1 1GA
UK
+44.8704589450
+44.8704589458


Domain name servers:

dns0.easily.co.uk 213.161.76.87
dns1.easily.co.uk 217.206.221.213


Domain name:
davidcameronseconomicpolicy.co.uk

Registrant:
The Labour Party

Registrant type:
Unknown

Registrant's address:
39 Victoria Street
London
SW1H 0HA
GB

Registrar:
Easily Limited t/a easily.co.uk [Tag = WEBCONSULTANCY]
URL: http://www.easily.co.uk

Relevant dates:
Registered on: 09-Jan-2009
Renewal date: 09-Jan-2011

Registration status:
Registered until renewal date.

Name servers:
dns0.easily.co.uk
dns1.easily.co.uk

Jimmy said...

"davidcameronseconomicpolicy.co.uk"

Shouldn't be too much in the way of bandwidth charges there.

Tim said...
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Thatsnews said...

They are making it worse for themselves, aren't they?

Simon Gardner said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

Tim said...
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Darcy said...

@Tom - You might like to confirm whether or not you are, in fact, Tom Miller, Draper intern. It really does influence the weight of your point, given that if you are Tom Miller, you are a recipient of the funding in question. If you're not Miller, apologies for the question.

@Tim - On your own blog you raise some perfectly good questions about the policing of the G20 protests. However, whatever sense you talk on that and other issues is completely lost in your seemingly endless, paranoid ranting aimed at Messrs Dale and Fawkes. The average blog reader can perfectly well deduce that you are not a deviant but anyone reading your vitriolic rambling will certainly be under the impression that you have lost your marbles. Please. Get. Over. Yourself.

@John - "Well, that's not strictly true is it?" I think on balance, Iain is truthful when he says that this site costs nothing to run. If some images happen to reside elsewhere, that's hardly evidence of some dark funding conspiracy. He could host images in any number of places for next to nothing. And it's a very long way from Draper allowing thousands of people to think he is funded by Unite when, as it is now being reported, he is not. It's a bit like allowing people think you went to Berkeley though. I know who I think is more honest.

John said...

@Paul Pinfield

Nice work! I forgot about doing an IP neighbours check! D'oh!

The results are weird though. There's even an Australian web address in there? Undoubtably they are all on the same server, and since there are so few of them we're likely talking about a single owner rather than on a shared server.

I wonder if it is the Labour party or some kind of wed designer or web consultant's server?

@Everyone

To do this check yourselves go to: http://www.myipneighbors.com/ and type in the web address you're looking for. The results tell you the IP address of the server hosting it, and all the other sites hosted on that server.

If someone's on shared hosting, this tells you nothing. If someone has their own server however it can tell you a lot...

Tim said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
John said...

@Darcy
@John - "Well, that's not strictly true is it?" I think on balance, Iain is truthful when he says that this site costs nothing to run. If some images happen to reside elsewhere, that's hardly evidence of some dark funding conspiracy. He could host images in any number of places for next to nothing. And it's a very long way from Draper allowing thousands of people to think he is funded by Unite when, as it is now being reported, he is not. It's a bit like allowing people think you went to Berkeley though. I know who I think is more honest.@Darcy

I didn't mean to suggest pretty much anything you said.

I was simply stating a fact. If I were to expand on that my direction would be to talk about the limitation of the Blogger service, as in, if you want to have your own layout then you have to host the layout elsewhere. Every single "blogger blogger" with a custom theme has to host their layout elsewhere, and does, eg Dizzy and Devils Kitchen.

It's just a fact that Iain hosts his over at Total Politics.

Just a fact, that's all, no insinuations, no conspiracy! :D

It's interesting though, are we now all so caught up in smears that everything is now an attempt at a smear? Blogging McCarthyism has arrived! ;)

Darcy said...

@John "It's interesting though, are we now all so caught up in smears that everything is now an attempt at a smear? Blogging McCarthyism has arrived! ;)"

Fair point. We are increasingly obsessed with micro-critique of the facts that we are presented with, not least because those facts tend to be wrong - more often than not.

@Tim - Oh dear. You were deleted before I could quote what you said. But I think it was something like "yeah but, bitch moan unique visitors emails smear jenvey liar me me me whine iain fawkes mobile numbers apolgise evidence yadda yadda yadda".

I refer you to my previous answer. It doesn't matter to anyone - apart from you - and if you could stop being Mr Angry for 5 minutes, I think you would come to the sensible conclusion that it shouldn't matter to you either.

And at the risk of sounding like an apologist for Mr Dale which I am most certainly not, he made the claim that there was a Downing St conspiracy against him although he, as yet, has not been able to produce written proof in the form of email correspondence. However, in light of recent events, how could anyone think that the same people that obfuscate FOI due process by hiding incriminating names in asterisks (I**n D***) and go to great lengths to concoct a smear campaign (that only became a bad idea once everyone found out about it), wouldn't smear Dale given half the chance?

So when the centre of our Government is polluted to the very core with sleazy, lying, self interested cheats, why would anyone waste time picking up Iain Dale on why he thinks said Government might be out to get him?

Tim said...
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Savonarola said...

Mr Darcy

I am afraid that you are flogging a dead horse with your reasoned argument that Tim's hurt is self induced and illusory.

Mr Ireland has a peculiar personality. He needs rage. He needs windmills.

A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.

trevorsden said...

From what Paul Pinfield says its pretty clear the labour party are hell bent on creating a load of spoof websites trying to smear Cameron and the Tories. And in the most childish and puerile manner. Red Raq etc are just the culmination of all this.

Surely we have the most nasty imbecilic government and governing party in our history.

And really it seems Labours main defence of their nasty smear tactics is to accuse everybody who makes perfectly legal fair comment and passes a perfectly legal, speculative or otherwise, opinion of spreading smears.

Well these days I go to bed content, I walk with a spring in my step I have a song in my heart - all because the Labour Party over Easter have with every utterance by every miserable spokesman shown themselves to be totally bereft of any shred of decency.

All my preconceptions my prejudices my bigotry - they all have been shown to be true. Its a great feeling. Who knows, next week I may glimpse a mystical insight into the meaning of the Universe.

Tim said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
javelin said...

Spin is simply smearing the truth

Anoneumouse said...

So what has Mandelson's role been in all of this?

http://www.businesslink.gov.uk/bdotg/action/layer?r.l1=1073858790&topicId=1073869074&r.l2=1073866776&r.s=tl

DespairingLiberal said...

I'm sure all this is true.

However, was there any truth in the allegedly "smearing" emails?

Particularly the one about little Georgy, which seems all too believable.

One day the truth will be told!

Humpty Dumpty said...

@DespairingLiberal.

Er, no - that's why they are called SMEARS! D'oh!

neil said...

Perhaps a petition should be made and handed to the owners of the SmearList sorry Labourlist asking then to be more open about their funding in the interests of fostering democracy and openness.

DespairingLiberal said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Thatsnews said...

Disappearing Liberal seems to be spreading smears.

You are not actually a Liberal, are you?

You are a member of the Rabid Rebuttal Squid and you claim your 30 pieces of silver.

transfattyacid said...

I suspect that the reason unite is so keen to disaccosiate itself with the story is that it would have to sack some senior members who funded this foolish enterprise... in the spirit of the decision to exclude BNP members from union representation on the grounds that such a thing was contrary to their stated aims and objectives - given that the attacks were concentrated on individuals sexuality and mental health.

Or are we to believe that the mental health of ones spouse in the eyes of the Labour party and the unions, and in the spirit of a fair and egalitarian society, are grounds for disbarrment from public office?

Or indeed the wearing of female undergarments?

DespairingLiberal said...

Note the Iain Dale news management machine is in full swing with him removing any posts he doesn't like, right, left and centre.

As he so often does when anything high-pressure comes up. Next time he is on the TV, I will organise people to call the channel to demand to know why they are featuring this anti-democrat.

DespairingLiberal said...

Thatsnews - it is no smear that the members of the Bullingdon club, which included David Cameron, George Osborne and Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson behaved incredibly badly in Oxford. One pub landlord on a BBC Radio 4 investigation recounted how they apparently were released from only an hour in custody on Chief Superintendent instructions after smashing up a pub, something other youths would have been remanded overnight for.

At the very least, this story says something about the corrupt and elitest nature of this particularly rarified segment of the upper classes.

We can see this attitude in Johnson's recent storming out of the Select Committee when asked probing questions - clearly Old Etonian/Bullingdonians should not be subjected to such queries from the lower orders.

Unsworth said...

@ Thats News

"You are not actually a Liberal, are you?

You are a member of the Rabid Rebuttal Squid and you claim your 30 pieces of silver."
On balance I'd think that's an accurate assessment. Interesting Nom de Guerre, no real credibility.

Unsworth said...

@ Desperate Liberal

"Next time he is on the TV, I will organise people..."Hilarious. This from someone who could not organise a piss-up etc, and who is rapidly becoming the resident clown - idle threats a speciality.

Oh, and where's your writ? I haven't seen it yet...