Nosemonkey's EUtopia

In search of a European identity

A brief explanation of absence and (re)statement of principles

I’ve come to a conclusion over the last couple of weeks. It’s something I’ve known for a while, but never quite expressed so succinctly as I’m about to:

I’m interested in politics, but I don’t CARE about politics.

Unlike most political bloggers (at least, it seems like this much of the time), politics is not my life. There are countless things that I’m more interested in and that I actually care about. Film, art, literature, history, beer, whisky. I could have started a blog on any of these, but I happened to pick EU politics because it would present a challenge. An academic challenge.

Yes, I’ve had political jobs in both Westminster and Brussels. Yes, I think the EU is more good than bad, and that European political/economic integration is a nice idea.

But if the EU were to end tomorrow, would I care? No.

If I were to be allowed no more beer, whisky, history books or films from tomorrow, however? Damn straight – I’d be distraught.

The longer, rather more coherently-argued version of this summary of my political outlook, for those who missed it a couple of years back, can be found here. It all still applies (bar parts of point 8, written before the current recession), and it remains the most coherent statement of my political outlook I’ve come up with. If you haven’t, I’d urge you to have a read.

And no, this isn’t an “I’m quitting blogging” post, in case you were wondering – I’ve done several of those before. It’s just that this blog’s approaching its 6th anniversary, and I’m starting to think about priorities and possible changes of direction again.

With so many new EU blogs recently arisen, the need for me to comment on everything (not that I ever did) is diminishing rapidly – if there was ever a need in the first place. With the EU entering a pre-election period in which party politics is set to dominate (something in which I have no interest), the question is where to direct my limited time, effort and interest to put it to its best use.

Suggestions welcome.


  1. I think you’ve managed to give an ace reason here why you should carry on blogging about the EU – the rest of us blogging about the EU, for good or ill, do care a LOT about politics, and your more distanced view is very useful!

  2. Nosemonkey,

    You are perhaps a bit drastic in your views on short-termism in politics. Extremely short term is right if you follow the (partisan) tabloid headlines and politicians out to score points against each other on a daily basis.

    But more importantly, representative democracy is also a system of government, where long term policies are built and put into practice.

    As you have pointed out, public perceptions and identities evolve even more slowly.

    Your blog, which takes a longer view, discusses issues citizens should think about.

    With regard to the European elections, it is a healthy sign if at least some Europeans become engaged in the campaigns, but the same challenges and shortcomings will face the newly elected European Parliament and the Commission to be appointed.

    What should the campaigners be discussing? What should the EU citizens demand?

  3. Well good luck if you go. please tell me of another blog I should argue with.
    I`m a philistine so I think too much money and time is wasted on arts, films ,literature. The drinking bit I agree with.

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  5. Actually it’s really good to find an EU blogger that’s non-partisan and can look at issues in terms of their merits from scratch, as it were. Your history stuff is interesting too, of course, but your EU posts always make me think more deeply and that’s a valuable thing when it comes to politics.
    (Plus didn’t you get namechecked by Wallstrom as one of the top 3 worth reading?)

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  7. I read this a few days ago but haven’t had the chance to write a decent reply until now. I’ve been following this blog for several years now (and it’s only one of a few that I do follow regularly, although I keep meaning to try harder on this front…) The reason why I keep coming back is because of the analysis, particularly historical. Sure, there are quite a few EU/Europe-focused blogs out there but yours is pretty unique in this respect, and I think it could be an interesting time in EU politics. Still, I guess it’s always worth a think about what you want to really achieve through this.

    As for the wider thing with politics – and I hope this doesn’t sound presumptuous – is yours a complaint with the process/institutions or policies? Or more generalised than that? Because it seems as though you are in favour of European integration, it’s just the institutions are a bit crap?

  8. Ta, all. More specifically:

    Ralf: The interest in and turnout for elections is in pretty much direct proportion to how important and likely to have an impact the public perceive them to be. So campaigners should be discussing why the elections matter – and come up with some convincing arguments along those lines, because I haven’t heard any yet. The majority of people don’t know what MEPs actually do, or what influence they can actually have. For most people, the answer to the latter (and probably the former, thanks to all those stories about MEPs turning up to sign the register and then buggering off again) is “very little”.

    In return, EU citizens should be demanding that the EP has more power to influence legislation – and to propose it.

    In any case, let’s face it, the shape of the next Commission is going to have a far larger impact on the way the EU is going to work over the next few years… Once the machinations around those appointments start kicking off, then I start getting interested again. (Unless it’s Barroso again, in which case I start screaming in frustration…)

    Robin – if you want more EU bloggers to argue with, there’s a whole bunch of new ones at Think About It, only recently launched. And if you want some people who believe what you often seem to think I believe to argue with, have you tried the Federal Union blog?

    Jo/Mark – I’m pondering more history, it must be said. Though I’ll need an angle, as I don’t want it to turn into a random collection of unrelated posts. That angle may well be whatever’s currently in the news – using current events to provide an excuse to look at historical ones, and in turn using historical events to cast light on current ones. Too few people know the backstory these days, after all – and precious few newspapers have much foreign coverage, let alone foreign coverage with context pieces. That could be my new niche…

    Mark – My complaint’s primarily with the process and institutions. I don’t feel that the EP has enough influence, but my major gripe is the UK’s system for electing MEPs (multi-member constituencies on a party list system, meaning you can only vote for a party, not a candidate). To be honest, because of that I couldn’t care less about the policies of the various parties/groups. Their policies don’t matter – they’re only MEPs. The real decisions are taken by the national governments in Council and elsewhere, and the real policies drawn up by the civil servants of national governments before being passed to the Commission. The EP has only a small part to play – a more important one than many believe, but still not important enough to get overly excited about, as far as I’m concerned.

    I’m quite happy to be convinced otherwise, if anyone wants to try.

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