Archive for the ‘Mark Mardell’ 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, 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.


Th!nk About It: EU jargon, and the 73 pages that Mardell won’t blog about

In yet another desperate attempt to keep the EU light-hearted (and yet another successful – if I do say so myself – attempt to avoid “serious EU issues”), hereby follows my second Th!nk About It Post. As before, you can vote for me here.

Reading Mark Mardell’s Euroblog like a good Th!nker I today came across his most recent post entitled Learn EU-speak. My first thought was that the post was horrifically short at just 103 words – but then I realised it was less of a post and more of an advert for his Radio 4 appearance tomorrow:

What’s at the heart of the problem? Hear my answer on Radio 4 this Sunday 22 February at 10.45pm (2245 GMT) at the end of the Westminster Hour. It will be repeated on Wednesday 25 February at 8.45pm on Radio 4.

I appreciate that I have just copied his advert for more to see, but firstly, I wanted to demonstrate the blatantness of the advertisement-pretending-to-be-a-post, and secondly, because who can blame him?

(For non-Th!nkers, Mardell spoke to us in Brussels at the launch event and blogged about it here. I, for one, was slightly disappointed with his post. Most of the comments directed at him were about the lack of “official” bloggers’ links to “normal” (my term) bloggers and not only did he not mention this in the post, but neither did he link to any normaltons. Pah.)

Nevertheless, I am grateful for Mardell’s lack of words on the subject of, urm, words. For it means I can blog more about them here.

When I went to Brussels in December (independently of Th!nk About It, not independently of the EU) I was given the following:

73 pages of excitement

73 pages of excitement

This is, my friends, a book on EU Jargon entitled ‘E! Sharp Jargon Alert’. And it’s 73 pages long. A visitor, apparently, needs 73 pages just to understand what’s being said – I don’t even want to think about how many pages would be needed to understand what is actually going on.

Here’s a taster, from the ‘C’ section:


And that’s only about half of the ‘C’s. I’d be surprised if Barroso and P√∂ttering together would be able to explain them all.

As such, I think it’s clear to all that the EU has somewhat of un problemo with language. But I don’t think that warrants Mardell’s question: “Does the EU shroud itself in obscure language on purpose?”.

Surely we can forgive an institution has been developing since the Second World War and has 23 – yes, 23 – “official languages” a confusing lingo?

Let’s look at Mardell’s answer to his own question shall we? Oh no. I forgot. We’ll have to wait for his radio show tomorrow…