Some people choose to enter the “Second World” alternative-life website with wildly unrealistic avatars. Not Peter Mandelson. In what may or may not be a gimmick, the business secretary is set to visit Second World in the coming weeks – presumably telling geeks to vote New Labour – in the latest step of the party’s efforts to embrace the online world. Unusually, Lord Mandelson has chosen to do so with an avatar which looks more or less like him – albeit with darker, more glossy hair.
I wrote a bit about the launch of labourlist.org at 11pm last night (maybe I am the geek). It turns out that the site will have contributions from the likes of Jon Cruddas, Hazel Blears and Alastair Campbell. At the same time various web forums will be visited by ministers including Ed Miliband, Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham to put across the government view on their specialist fields.
There will also be an inaugural effort on Labourlist from Mandelson himself, musing on Labour’s move “to the forefront of new media and online campaigning”.
The ”Dark One” will mention his previous blogging efforts as a European Commissioner at the Doha talks in Geneva last year. And tomorrow he will offer this general message of support:
“I want to say something about how we get our message out in these modern times. Because the world has changed since 1997. Now, no-one has been more identified with message and campaigning discipline than myself, something that makes me rather proud, I have to say because, during the 1980s I saw the Labour party repeatedly let down its voters by failing to win the battle with the Tories and the media. Back then we were in hand-to-hand combat with an almost universally hostile press but sometimes we were our own worst enemy….This must, of course, never happen again, and so we will still need loyalty and discipline, and that crucial other component, focussed, hard work. But when it comes to new media we have to recognise that THE DAYS OF COMMAND AND CONTROL ARE OVER*. Instead we need to learn to EMBRACE AND ENGAGE. That is why I am writing this blog and will be at LabourLists’ launch blogger’s breakfast on the 12th February. It is also why I will be returning here to respond to your comments in the days to come.”
Other elements of the drive will include an online database to allow activists to call voters in marginal seats – and input responses – from their own homes. This type of thing has been inspired by Barack Obama’s successful campaign in the US. Whether Labour can replicate that genuine tide of hope and excitement remains to be seen, however.
* (These are my capital letters)
Dizzy Thinks has some articulate and shrewd advice for Derek Draper