In an otherwise good quality article about former Belgian PM Guy Verhofstadt’s role in determining the EU institutions response to bailouts by Joshua Chaffin there is nevertheless an issue – the terms the FT uses to explain the EU:
Mr Verhofstadt, the energetic and outspoken leader of the centrist Liberal Democrats in the European parliament [my emphasis]
Strictly Verhofstadt is leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Group in the European Parliament (ALDE). As fellow FT correspondent Stanley Pignal states on Twitter, the FT is not intended to be for a Brussels bubble audience. Very true. But I would also hope that FT readers would hope to have correct reporting, and I have much higher hopes for the FT’s reporting than I do for any other UK broadsheet – hence this blog entry.
Reading the line above for someone not versed in the basics of European Parliament politics connects him to the Liberal Democrats, the UK party, who are indeed a member of the ALDE group. But Liberal Democrats and ALDE are not the same thing.
OK, maybe this is a minor case, but there are words to the same effect – simpler than ‘ALDE Group’ – that nevertheless would have been more correct: ‘Liberals and Democrats’ or ‘Liberals and Democrats Group’ for example.
However this is not the first time the FT has used such terms – they routinely referred to Blair’s rumoured candidacy for President of the European Council as ‘President of the EU’ – see this piece and all these titles. The Economist notably takes another line – to use the correct terms, and to assume that readers will inform themselves if they don’t understand.