Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

Talking to the MPs

I'm watching myself give evidence yesterday to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee (preserved for posterity on video here) - 2 hours, the first half being me and a Greek academic, and the second half being Misha Glenny on his own. It's always pretty unnerving listening to the recorded sound of your own voice. Also I had a haircut shortly before the meeting, and am uncomfortably aware of the renewed visibility of my Bald Patch.

I'd had another meeting in the morning, grabbed a bite in a Whitehall pub, and then managed to meet a friend (herself working on the hunting legislation going through the House of Lords yesterday) before the committee meeting began. There are 11 members of the committee, seven Labour, three Tories and one Lib Dem. Only six Labour and two Tories were there (the Lib Dem showed up for Misha). I frequently have high-level policy conversations as part of my work, but to be grilled for an hour in public in front of the cameras by eight moderately senior politicians each with different political views was a relatively strange experience - almost like my Ph D examination, except that then there were only two examiners, it wasn't in public, and I'd been working on the topic for only five years not almost eight.

I've seen or participated in a couple of similar events. The CSCE in the US Congress is a joint committee of both Houses dealing with international relations; the one session I've attended seemed to be speechifying by both elected representatives and witnesses, and my impression from the official reports I've read is that this is standard. I've also given evidence to the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, but that gets awfully choppy because of the translation situation. The Foreign Affairs Committee gave us a very good debate in comparison, a bit more aggressive than the House of Lords committee on European affairs at which I testified almost two years ago.

I felt I got in a couple of good lines on visa policy (at about 15m, and again at 21m); why nothing is "just symbolic" (25m); why the Kosovo election results are worse than they look (31m); how to write peace agreements (39m); Bosnian police reform (48m); telling the committee chairman what he can do with his report (54m). I stuck around to listen to Misha's presentation, and we then walked over together to Waterloo for my train, discussing John Peel as we went. An interesting day.
Tags: life: work, my media
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