Archive for the ‘Brown bashing’ Tag

Th!nk About It: thanks for your time, Libertas

(A version of this post can also be found here, and you can vote for me if you so wish.)

I know that something dodgy’s going on when I attempt to interview someone and they willingly agree.

This is because my opening sentence usually involves the following words – so hated by most that they are often followed by the slam of a phone in its receiver – “student journalist”. When the all-too familiar slamming does not come, I am immediately suspicious.

(As an aside, a perfect example of someone cashing in on the benefits of student journalism is Bridget Fox, the Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Islington, London. Her willingness to conduct interviews and give quotes has certainly done her no harm: on our website, Islington Now, she is not only featured in a worryingly large amount of articles, but also has a glowing feature all to herself…)

But back to the point.

My suspicions were also aroused, though, when I called up Libertas in December for an article I was writing as part of a job application about the effect of the economic crisis on perceptions of the EU in Ireland and the UK. Thrilling stuff, I know.

Libertas, your bus stops here.

Libertas, your bus stops here.

But despite the exciting subject matter, Libertas were not just polite in answering questions – they arranged for a “senior policy adviser” to call me back the next day and answer my (often stupid, in hindsight) questions for an hour.

I smell a rat, I thought. There’s something fishy going on here… (And then I spent a short time wondering whether rats smell fishy.)

I was reminded of Libertas’s over-eagerness to engage this week, when I read, on EuropeanVoice.com, that they have launched as an official political party in the UK.

I was intrigued. How would the British press respond to this news, I wondered; how would the British public react?

I am still wondering.

I turns out that my Google News search function is not defunct as I originally believed: the British press have, quite simply, not covered the story. (With the exception of, understandably, the BBC and less understandably, Sky News.)

There are a number of reasons why the news has not been covered. Perhaps it is, as Mardell highlights, because there is no sign of a manifesto in sight. More likely, it is because the British public couldn’t care less.

And with this, Libertas’s eagerness to speak to me became clear. No, it wasn’t because they were praying that my article might get published somewhere (ha!). Neither was it because they have a penchant for talking to young – and horrifically misinformed – interviewers (I hope).

It was because they have to grasp at any opportunity – literally, any opportunity – to speak to the British press with both hands.

At their UK launch, Libertas even embarked upon some Brown bashing – the British press’s favourite activity of late – arguing that Brown “deceived” voters by not holding a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

If even Brown bashing doesn’t spur UK newspapers to write about them, things for Libertas – and any future British campaign they may embark upon –  aren’t looking too great.

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Ding ding: Berlins vs Brown in a, quite frankly, unneccesary bashing

Ker pow: a familiar Guardian mug shot and an even more familiar face craftily superimposed, if I do say so myself

Ker pow: a familiar Guardian mug shot and an even more familiar face craftily superimposed, if I do say so myself

Today Marcel Berlins said that:

The government’s plan to allow people to comment on public services online is lazy and ill-considered.

There are a number of reasons, according to Marcel (we’ll go with first names, the plurals involved in the second will only confuse me, if not others) that the government’s “eBay style feedback for services” is not democratic. I have a problem with all of them.

One is that offering this online service is leaving out those who can’t go online. If you’re wondering who these people are, Marcel tells us they “might” include: old people, ill people and thick people.

Apparently, then, people without the internet cannot comment on public services. They mustn’t be able to write (and send a letter to: Mr Brown, 10 Downing Street, London, SW1A 2AA) or speak (and call: 020 7925 0918). My grandma doesn’t have the internet, and I’m pretty sure she’d disagree with the above – by letter and/or phone if required.

But there’s another reason, according to Marcel.

True democracy is not just about numbers. It is also about quality.

News to me, Marcel. As far as I can remember from my undergrad days, napping in Jonathan Wolff’s lectures on democracy, not much was said about the quality of the voice of the people. I’m pretty sure the voice of the people was enough.

But Marcel wasn’t finished.

Moreover, many people’s opinions will be based not on a careful consideration of their experiences, but on ignorance or misunderstanding of the profession they are dealing with.

Not that you’re assuming that the British public are stupid or anything, Marcel. And, no, I don’t know the difference between an experience, and a “carefully considered” experience either.

Marcel ends by predicting the disastrous consequences of the government “giving too much influence to amateurs, too little to the professionals”. 

Now I’m partial to a bit of Brown bashing myself – as regular readers will know – but I don’t see the point in bashing for bashing’s sake (if for no other reason than the quantity of bashing-worthy material out there).

And here we have (what appeared to me to be) a bashing-proof statement by our prime minister on increasing transparency of the services. It didn’t appear so to Marcel, but he went too far. Call it try-hard, call it desperate. But don’t call it disastrous before it’s even begun. Poor Brown.

Marcel, for some reason, greatly overestimated the weight the government will give to the proposed online feedback system. If he was right, I think there’d be more than just Marcel worried about our country’s democratic future being modelled on eBay.