Today I am launching Labourspace.com – the Labour Party’s campaign social networking site. I hope it will provide a unique home for organisations and people to host and promote their campaigns – and to bring their ideas to the attention of Labour ministers and the wider Party.
Before anyone writes about this great new initiative: I direct readers to this piece I wrote in March last year, on the subject of ‘Labourspace: great idea, awful execution’. This site has been around for at least nine months, possibly longer – and any tweaks since last March have been minimal. Its domain was registered as far back as August 2006. So we shouldn’t be judging this site by its potential: we should be judging it by its impact over those nine months.
It isn’t pretty. The most popular campaign on the site is ‘Proud of the NHS at 60’ (in 2008): a massive 16 people appear to have endorsed it in the last 4 months. And when you click on ‘Labourspace winners’ to see which campaigns have been ‘brought to the attention of senior Labour politicians’… you see a promo graphic. Ouch.
Jon Worth wrote something on this last week, wondering: ‘Is anyone except a party hack going to use the tools that Labourspace.com offers? Sadly I think that the answer to that is a no.’ I (still) agree. And in these days post-Facebook’s explosion, the exponential growth of blogs, and everything else – surely it’s less likely now than it was a year ago.
Worst of all… the ‘tell your friends about this campaign’ feature still works the same way: it wants you to hand over your personal email account login and password, so it can bulk-import your contacts, and help you spam them. I couldn’t believe this back in March, no matter what ‘do no evil’ promises they wrapped it in; and I’m stunned they haven’t had a rethink on it. Just insane.