The Observer is reporting that – the webchild of Derek Draper – is nearing launch day.  You can view a Beta version of it here.  The Observer’s Gaby Hinsliff:

"The site may be run on a shoestring – its base is currently the TV production office Draper shares with his presenter wife, Kate Garraway, he is not being paid and it is still looking for long-term funding – but aims to take on the mighty, the website started by the former Conservative staffer Tim Montgomerie, which is increasingly influential in modern Tory thinking, and has acted as an early-warning system of grassroots unrest over some policies. Labour aides have long envied the popularity of Tory bloggers like Montgomerie or Iain Dale, while Labour bloggers have had a chequered reputation: David Miliband’s pioneering blog was widely panned as dull, while the transport minister Tom Harris’s was so interesting that it was blamed for him getting the sack during the last reshuffle. The party is seen as having been slow to respond to the open, free-ranging nature of politics on the web, the opposite of the famously control-freak tendencies apparent during New Labour’s rise to prominence."

Big name writers will include Alan Milburn, Ken Livingstone and David Lammy.  Even Peter Mandelson is named as a contributor – suggesting that it may be loyal to the leadership rather than to the movement.  LabourList joins a long list of sites – eg LabourHome, Labour Matters, Labour Outlook (now defunct) and Liberal Conspiracy – that have attempted to champion the Left in the same way that ConservativeHome has championed the grassroots Right.

Iain Dale worries that LabourList will need independent funding.  Not necessarily, at least in the early stages.  This site had no funding for the first year.  It wouldn’t have continued to prosper if Stephan and Rosamund Shakespeare hadn’t have purchased it but it got on the map without any funding.

Tim Montgomerie