So there will be another vote in Ireland on the Treaty of Lisbon. “Oh no” was my first reaction. Then the first person who heard my reaction asked me “so what else should they do?” That is a question I cannot answer, and indeed I don’t think that Libertas has the answers either. Lest we forget Heads of State and Government have been trying to reform the EU’s institutions since 2000 (when the last Treaty was agreed in Nice) and the process has become more and more painful and contorted.

What are the grounds for Ireland voting again? The idea is that there should be some declarations to keep Ireland happy – that there will be no EU army, no change to Irish abortion laws, and no challenge to Ireland’s taxation system. None of that is substantive as the original Treaty of Lisbon didn’t touch upon those things anyway. The only substantive change is that the Member States agreed that all countries will retain a member of the European Commission, rather that the 2-out-of-every-3 terms arrangement proposed in the Treaty originally. Is that going to be enough to make a difference? Frankly, in itself, I don’t think so.

The challenge for Brian Cowen remains this: how does he, and indeed all of the Irish political establishment deal with this demographic in the previous referendum, as explained by Kevin H. O’Rourke at Vox EU:

According to Eurobarometer, 60% of the self-employed, 66% of senior managers, 58% of professionals and 57% of those who left the educational system after the age of 20 voted in favour of the Treaty. By contrast, 58% of the unemployed and 74% of manual workers voted against it.

I’m really far from sure whether a few odd concessions will make a difference to those people.

And then what about the campaign? Will Cowen and others really be willing to mount a better campaign than the first time? Or are they going to try to guilt-trip Ireland into voting yes? And if the vote is negative again, then what happens? The whole thing looks so deeply inadequate from all sides – a Treaty now lacking in substance, a rightly reticent population, a political class without ideas. Where is there any optimism in all of this?

Unlike Head of Legal I suppose I still want a Yes vote, because the prospects of a No vote are worse – more years of wrangling and uncertainty. But I’m tired of all this lark.

9 Comments

  1. Condor

    Dear people of Ireland,

    Please vote today with “NO” reg. the “Lisabon Treaty” This hole paper is just a crime.
    I wrote this message from Germany to you. One of the most unfree countries in the EU.
    We Germans like a lot of another European countries having not the chance to vote our opinion about this criminal EU organisations and his criminal intend to bring the rest of the almost free European countries like you.. my dear lovely Irish people.. into a system of EU dictatorship and total political control..

    Fight for your freedom and political self-administration and even by doing this for “Our” freedom and political self-administration.

    Vote – “NO”

    All my best

    Condor

  2. You’re nervous? I’m terrified. But, we had some friends round for dinner on Saturday night and we were talking about it and we all agreed that, if there were some non-political base for a yes campaign, we would get out and knock on doors for it. I don’t know where that will come from though. Ireland is such a small country that anyone sufficiently motivated almost certainly is political already.

  3. Anoneumouse

    Ralf Grahn

    Why have you put up a straw man?

    My question is quite clear it with regards to Irish neutrality.

  4. Anoneumouse,

    Are you implying that the Lisbon Treaty should safeguard not only Irish neutrality, but the neutrality and disarmament of the European Union and all the (other) member states?

  5. Jon,

    It is always possible that Libertas creates enough buzz to be a great hit (once). By June 2009 there will probably be armies of jobless and a general feeling of gloom. Good breeding grounds for protest and protest votes.

    If you are confused about Ganley, it is because he speaks and acts in a contradictory manner.

    At time he sounds like the Philadelphia Convention which gave the USA its Constitution.

    But the No campaign in Ireland was run on introverted and egoistic Irish issues. The arguments were not necessarily true, although there was information available to correct any inadvertent mistakes.

    Declan Ganley seems to be in a hurry to get his European level political party off the ground. Attracting existing MEPs and national political groups is like a ‘just add some water’ formula.

    But most of the politicians Ganley has associated with seem to be anti-EU nationalists, who in my mind would never sign on to a strong and democratic EU. They cannot really believe that Ganley is serious about it, so why should we.

    If Ganley wanted an effective and democratic European Union, he would have to change two components: people and programme.

    Actually both from negative to positive.

  6. Anoneumouse

    With regards to Irish neutrality

    Question:
    Could the research and technological developments contained in Article 179 of the Lisbon Treaty include the military use of space, and could the joint undertakings contained in Article 187 of the Lisbon Treaty be undertaken in the area of military use of space?

  7. Personally I’m looking forward to the Irish giving the EU a kick in the proverbials again.

    Long live national sovereignty!

  8. I assume you’re referring to Andrew Duff MEP’s Press Release?

    Well, quite frankly, that is not going to strengthen me one little bit.

    If you read the ‘About’ page on the Libertas website it’s actually rather inspiring. But why should I believe in Ganley more than anyone else?

    As you can probably tell I’m rather confused at the moment!

  9. Jon,

    Look at the bright side of life. The European Union and the Lisbon Treaty are excellent examples of what happens when you design rules bound to lead to failure.

    The US National Intelligence Council had the presence of mind to spell it out, but the national leaders of the EU member states have yet to admit that their construction is faulty.

    It takes a real optimist to argue that the appearance of Libertas on the scene is going to galvanise pro-Europeans into support for the EU as it is.

    The thinking Europeans I follow seem to have become disillusioned with a project seemingly destined to orbit in outer space with no contacts with EU citizens, save for the odd PR campaign to get them ‘engaged’ without a voice.

    Objectively, the Lisbon Treaty would smooth a few wrinkles between the institutions, but should we citizens really care when neither office holders nor policies are ours to choose?

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