February 13, 2014
Tonight I’ll be toddling along to Grilling Kippers, a UKIP-focused anti-Eurosceptic campaign from deep within the Brussels Bubble.
When I first heard about this, my initial reaction was to worry about the backfire, that the sight of a bunch of elite Brussels Bubble types goading UKIP supporters will reinforce their EU persecution complex. Of course, dyed-in-the-wool UK Eurosceptics won’t be convinced of anything anyway, but it’s the undecided, watching from the sidelines, who might be tipped over the line if what they see looks like the disconnected Brussels elite poking fun at their plucky British (OK, English) wannabe representatives.
Better, perhaps, to do something I’ve been saying since I first saw the trend emerging in the US (a few Hubbed links) – get a proper culture of factchecking started for EU affairs, with crowdsourcing tools allowing anyone to check any statement. UKIPpers statements’ would get just as much scrutiny (more, perhaps), and definitely their own tag or section, but it would be less nakedly targeted.
And, lo and behold, FactCheckEU launched a few days ago. It’s basically everything one could wish for, at least as first glance, crowdsourcing not just factchecking, but also translations, something I’ve wanted to explore for seven years or so.
In the end, both are good projects, but I wonder whether the Brussels Bubble can sustain two such initiatives? In the end they are powered by volunteer labour and we know how long that tends to last (FactCheckEU is funded by Stiftung Mercator, who deserve credit for this; I imagine the team are volunteers, and in any case if it flies it will through crowdsourcing). The survival of either, 12 months from now, will be an interesting indicator of the health of the EU online public sphere.
In the meantime, join up to both, see which one engages you more, and let us know via the comments why.