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10:46pm on Monday, 14th September, 2009:



When I first started going to these European policy-setting events, I was fairly cynical about them. I figured that they would be populated mainly by civil servant types who knew nothing about the subject area (much the same as their political masters).

However, the more I attend, the more I conclude that yes, they are populated mainly by civil service types, but they do in fact know the subject area very well. Some are, or have been, actual practitioners; others are very well read and know the issues inside out even if they don't have hands-on skills. I've been impressed not only by the level of debate, but the direction that the debate is going. These are people who either know what the "right" answer is, or if not then at least know which way to go to get there. The kind of prejudiced rubbish often heard from politicians and newspapers is not present here; for example, people speak openly about how governments will use "terrorism" as an excuse to seize control at the expense of civil liberties, and they argue strongly against this kind of thing. It's very refreshing.

I find it very encouraging, too. If this level of expertise is evident in my own subject area, then the chances are they're evident across the board. This being the case, policy makers are, in general, being advised by very smart people who do know the area and the issues, and who have drawn conclusions that are (in my view) correct.

If only the politicians actually listened to them...

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Copyright © 2009 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).