Apparently, the site resembles Red Pepper's monthly printed edition (launched in 1994, and claiming various luvvie-arty contributors) in mixing the left's more traditional causes with "a healthy dose of new environmental and direct action politics". Sounds risky. New Labour wouldn't want to get too close to people manning (or womanning) barricades, would it?
The site was designed by Clifford Singer, who is also responsible for Red Pepper's printed design, and it's always nice to hear of real designers adapting to the Web. Too many sites are produced by coding freaks with no training or experience in graphic design. "Our priorities were to make the site great to look at," he says, "while keeping download times low, and easy to navigate." Well, there's a radical approach to Web site design, if ever I heard one.
In practice, the 'zine is my kind of site - commendably crisp, professional, easy to use, with only the occasional token bit of animation. The site is split into six sections, coded by colour.
The obvious place to start for someone with no interest in the political message of the site is the tastefully aqua-tinted Recipes section. Sorry? Er, yes, recipes. Ah, wait a minute - I bet they all use red peppers. Right - sorry, correct. Still, at least they're not vegetarian. Well, not all of them.
The purple-coded Red Pepper Directory has links to left-wing and radical sites worldwide. With sections headed Democracy, Development, Disability, Green, Lesbian and gay, Parties, Peace, Publications, Society, Unions and Women, it's impressively comprehensive (apart from the noticeable omission of Men and Recipes). The green This Month section has four or five features from the current printed issue - this month including the magazine's recommendations for the first 50 legislation-free changes the Blair government should immediately get on with. Rather alarmingly sensible suggestions, on the whole.
The Archive, with its reassuringly blue button, "contains a selection of articles which have appeared in past issues, along with some features exclusive to this site". Not over-generous, then - and no search facility, either. But enough to convince the visitor that the magazine delivers heavyweight goods.
So off you go to the orange Info section before winding up at the claret (if I may use the term) Order page, where you can register for a free trial issue. They don't miss any commercial tricks, these pinkoes.