It was a normal enough evening. I was sat in a bar in Copenhagen, catching up with an old friend who was visiting, and I then checked Twitter. This from my good friend @Kosmopolit, and this from @Nosemonkey (tellingly including the words Ha ha ha!) alerted me that somehow I had managed to get to be ranked at position 40 (out of 40) on Euractiv’s list of Who are the 40 most influential Britons on EU policy? I was aware that Euractiv was making this list, but hadn’t even thought about the idea that I might even have been on it. The idea of the ranking was to commemorate 40 years of the UK being in the EU.
My first thought was eh, why me? Why do I possibly merit a place on such a list? And the more I think about it, the more I cannot answer that question. OK, I’m an active blogger, and only Nosemonkey has been at it longer than I have. But what do I actually influence in policy terms? If I am indeed influencing something, I for sure do not know what it is that I am influencing. It feels a bit like when this blog was ranked the 5th most influential in Brussels in 2010 – I could not ascertain why.
Then my mind turned to the other people on the list and the names missing there. Yes, I understand that the bias of Euractiv was towards Brussels policy – this is not a ranking of influence in UK-EU relations. But surely someone like David Rennie or Bruno Waterfield has more scope to shape EU policy than I do? Or Sony Kapoor from the think tank world? Or Paul Adamson from PR? Or from within the institutions, what about other MEPs not listed? Within my own party – Labour – only Glenis Willmott is on the list. While I’m not always a fan of what they stand for, surely Derek Vaughan (for his budget work) or Arlene McCarthy merit a place on the list? And I have sidelined myself in Labour EU policy.
I can hence only attribute my place on the list to tokenism – that they needed someone there who represented the crossover between new media and politics, and I am one of the few Brits who inhabits that space in EU affairs.
So, in conclusion, if you were one of the jury – thank you, but I think you’re misguided. If you’re someone who thinks I might wield influence in EU policy, then do tell me how I can wield this influence (perhaps in the comments below), for I for sure don’t know. If you’re one of the readers of my blog, or follow me on Twitter, thank you, because it’s thanks to you that I am on this list. If you’re one of the others on the list, more than two thirds of whom have no idea who I am, then maybe try taking to social media – imagine how far you might go if you do.