Declan Ganley, instrumental in the campaign that resulted in Ireland voting No to the Treaty of Lisbon, has set up his Libertas Party that will field candidates in the EP elections in June 2009. I’ve been trying to work out what I make of this, hence why it has taken me some time to get around to posting this entry.
First of all, what does Libertas actually want? This is Ganley’s statement at the launch of the party:
If people want a strong and healthy Europe that is democratic and answerable to them, they should vote for a Libertas candidate. If they do not want Europe to succeed or if they are happy with the current undemocratic practises, then they should vote for an incumbent party. For those who weren’t given a vote on the Lisbon Treaty, this will be their referendum
So he wants a Europe that is strong, democratic and healthy, yet this is the same man that is happy meeting Václav Klaus and Philippe de Villiers. Would they agree with Ganley’s statement at the launch of his party?
The reaction of ‘pro-Europeans’ has been rather predictable, with Graham Watson, leader of the ALDE Group in the European Parliament stating:
Pro-Europeans should not be afraid to confront such anti-European movements head on with the truth that now, more than ever, there are many issues of a global nature that can only be tackled successfully by a united response across the EU.
Hang on Graham, Ganley is not actually saying that he is anti-European… although if you judge a person by his friends then maybe you might say he is.
Essentially what seems to be happening here is that the establishment is reacting to a rather rich and effective cuckoo that has flown into their midst. The cuckoo says things rather similar to what parts of the establishment have been saying, yet, having projected a ‘man of the people’ image in the Irish referendum, seems to be more dynamic and interesting than the creaking, staid mainstream. I see absolutely no reason why Ganley and Libertas should be any better than anyone else at governing in the EU – it’s one thing to mobilise for a No Campaign in Ireland and quite another to get on with the complicated matter of governing. Guido seems to have fallen for the Libertas rhetoric, while Nosemonkey is, as ever, more thoughtful and measured.
The question also is whether the outsider image Libertas portrays is going to be tarnished by putting forward candidates for election. As commenter Anne stated in response to my previous post there was no non-establishment yes campaign in Ireland last time. Is Libertas going to start to look like an establishment no campaign?