You are a lobbyist: buy me a beer! and other thoughts, notably on wet rags
This is part of a tweet sent to me by the extraordinarily talented EU journo (and Brussels equivalent of The Onion when it comes to his tweets - especially those with #belgiumnews - and blog) @quarsan, aka Andy Carling, who amongst other things writes for NewEurope. The reason for this provocative yet friendly tweet, was that he was announcing to me that for the second time in a few weeks one of my posts was included in the paper edition of New Europe, something that is obviously both flattering and rewarding…and I rush to add: he was just pulling my leg on the beer thing…I think…
But the funny thing is that it made me also consider (yet again, thinking about my series on the L-word here, here, and here) the way lobbyists are perceived...a bit like posh lawyers, except they write extremely complexe sentences that start with “Whereas”, whilst lobbyists sell air or shady deals for a lot of money and spend their days wining and dining the elite of decision-makers (just for those unable to spot a second degree rant: I am talking about other people’s perceptions, not my job). If that is truly what a lobbyist does, then I need to ask myself what my job is! Spread over the year, and depending on legislative activities, I probably spend 70% of my time on dossier work, and 30% wandering EU institution corridors. I have never had dinner with an MEP or Commission official one-on-one, and the few lunches I had with EU decision-makers were paid “the Dutch way”, i.e. by splitting the bill. I do confess to buying an occasional quick lunch to an assistant, but those are usually friends (if you spend your life lobbying the EU institutions, you make a lot of enemies in them and a few friends), and the odd coffee at the Mickey Mouse cafeteria. But the whole myth of lavish receptions and cocktails? Truly not my game…
Oh, and on the other part of my post’s title: why are we still talking about Farage’s “wet rag” comment? I cannot imagine what makes this guy suddenly so interesting, important and fascinating that we should still be talking about him a week later, if at all. So he had a scripted go at Herman Van Rompuy, that some consider insulting. I must admit that to me, if it’s not defamation or equivalent, free speech applies, especially within an elected forum (Special mention here to the Belgian politician @svengatz ‘s twitter discussion on the subject, and his fantastic tweet “after 15y parl experience, I can solemnly confirm: a parl is a pub without beer :-)”).
But more importantly: Farage is absolutly not important in the European Parliament…and everyone seems to be talking about him because he acted like his usual self, i.e. a brat. I frankly couldn’t be bothered if Mr. Farage considered me as a wet rag (or a dry one, for that matter), a danger to democracy, or what he thinks of Belgium (my home country) either. He’s just not important, interesting or simply relevant enough.
So now, I just need to wait for the man to disappear from everyone’s radar screen, knowing fully well he usually never hits mine, but that their attention is polluting my usual blissful indifference.
Oh, and because I’m a fan of the French movie “Le pere Noel est une ordure” and can’t imagine having many opportunities in the future to place their memorable dialogue re a “rag”, aka “serpillère”":