How are you supposed to know whether to trust a blog? It’s a complicated issue. I’m not a journalist – I’m not paid to write this blog, and I’m not trained as a journalist either. Yet conversely I don’t have a news editor nagging me to write stories on topics I don’t understand.
So what do you get here?
First of all, I only write things about topics where I know something, or have something to contribute to the debate. I don’t write things because everyone else is writing about the topic. For example I’m fascinated by United States politics but I know no more about it than the next person, so I’m not going to write about it. I’ve also been quoted in numerous publications and articles – see the About page and the In the media page for more – and that should give an impression of the things I am trusted to write about. I have also written opinion pieces for some big blogs and online magazines. Note that you absolutely cannot buy space on this blog – by all means suggest things to me, but no blog entry is ever written because someone paid me to write it.
Secondly, I am an EU policy specialist by background. I have a better intuitive understanding of the EU than I do of any other political system, and that includes UK politics, UK being the country of my birth. Yet I view EU politics through my own ideological prism, and that’s what you’ll get on the blog. I not a classical pro-European (and in fact I dislike the very term) in that I don’t just defend things the European Union does. But I want the European Union to exist, to thrive, to become more effective and democratic, to develop into a federation based on the rule of law, and I want the UK to remain a member state of the European Union. Beyond that I aim to be as factually accurate in my reporting of EU affairs as I can, and if I don’t know the answer I’ll say so – my excellent and knowledgeable EU nerd readers will often contribute comments correcting me.
This is especially important when it comes to Brexit: I personally voted Remain, as a UK overseas voter, but I also see the case why the EU would work better with the UK outside it. My own personal future does not depend on the UK being in the EU very much – I can survive perfectly well either way – so see anything I write on Brexit in this light.
Third, I reference all sources in as far as possible, and I allow comments on all articles. This sometimes means stories evolve, sometimes with many updates, each documented. This isn’t traditional journalism after all – it’s some sort of open source thinking. I’ll approve any comments that are thoughtful and not abusive, even if they are highly critical of my approach. Above all if you disagree with something I write here, then please – in a civil manner – leave a comment and I will be happy to answer and engage.
Fourth, this blog has been ranked by numerous surveys and polls over the years, so that lends it some credibility. In November 2010 it was ranked 3rd most influential centre left blog by Social Europe Journal, and Fleischman Hillard ranked it among their 10 must read Brussels blogs. Brussels consultancy Waggener Edstrom ranked it 5th most influential blog in Brussels in July 2010. Hill + Knowlton ranked me the third most followed non-politician among Brussels decision makers on Twitter.