Politics: Labour sets up website to create campaign debate

Nathalie Thomas

The Labour Party is trying to encourage charities to post their campaigns on a new website that allows politicians and the public to vote for the cause they think is most pressing.

Labour Party chair Hazel Blears has set up www.labourspace.com in an attempt to increase debate between campaign groups and party members.

Charities are able to create a full page on the site about their campaign, which visitors vote and comment on.

At the end of each month, Blears will select one local and one national campaign from among the most popular and report on it to other Cabinet members. She has also pledged to raise key issues with the relevant government minister.

"We think there ought to be a space for NGOs and campaign groups to get direct access to government," Blears told Third Sector.

For the first six months the website will have a monthly theme, the first of which is health. Health charities have until 15 November to create pages if they want to be selected as the campaign of the month. From 16 November, the website will focus on sustainable communities.

The party is encouraging campaign groups to email their supporters to view the site, where details of Labour policies can also be found.

Blears denies that the site has been designed as a way of using charities to gain access to their followers. But she said: "I do think it's important that we let people know what we have done."

The Terrence Higgins Trust is one of the first charities to have signed up. Rowan Harvey, campaigns officer at the trust, admitted she was concerned at first that supporters would think the trust had allied itself with Labour. "But we contribute to consultations by all the major political parties," she said. "This was just another method of consulting."

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