Left Watch

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LabourList's great moment has arrived

There are a number of effective websites on the Left - LeftFootForward being at the top of the tree - but the one most suited to covering the Labour leadership race is Alex Smith's LabourList. He's done a good job in rescuing the site's reputation after the whole Derek Draper saga.

The leadership race is a massive opportunity for the site. The 2005 Tory leadership race certainly made ConservativeHome. By the end of the contest our traffic had grown from 100 or 200 visitors a day to 2,000 per day.

For what it's worth, this is my advice to Alex:

  • Provide a running tally of who has endorsed who. It was simple for me. I just listed those Tory MPs who were backing which candidates. Labour's electoral college makes the task harder but provide a list that journalists will use for their reports. Put the list - or a link to it - at the top of the site.
  • Stay neutral (at least until the final stages). Be a place where supporters of all candidates will come and argue. I never chose between Cameron and Davis in the final round and gave space for the supporters of all sides to argue their cases.
  • Fight for the members. This was easy for ConHome because Michael Howard wanted to strip Tory members of a decisive say in choosing the leader.  ConHome got lots of press attention because of its democracy campaign. There'll be ways in which LabourList can fight for Labour members' rights of access to candidates.
  • Run a good digest of the contest for those who only have the time to drop in once a week. ConHome's 'Good Week, Bad Week' was a very popular feature.
  • Start a diary that can become a review of the whole campaign once it's over. That's what I did and wrote this 'War and Peace' when it was all done.

Amazingly we didn't use YouTube for our coverage and Twitter didn't exist. You'll have better ideas but I hope mine are useful. Seize your moment!

Tim Montgomerie