Friday, May 02, 2008


Friday Face-Off - Yes or No to Lisbon?

I see the desperation of the Lisbon Treaty's Yes campaigners is reaching new heights. My thanks to Brian Boru for highlighting these comments from Taoiseach Bertie Ahern who suggested that rejecting the Treaty would be an "act of lunacy". Classy stuff.

The comments of former Taoiseach and Treaty supporter Garret Fitzgerald were equally repugnant. He described opponents of the Lisbon Treaty as "nitpickers of the extreme right and left"and trotted out the old myth that a No vote would see Ireland lose the good-will of 26 governments. I'm an admirer of Dr Fitzgerald and I'm very disappointed in his remarks. I think I'll therefore give him the benefit of the doubt and attribute his comments to supreme stupidity on his part rather than an act of gutless subservience to Brussels.

Today is interesting however in that it sees the launch of the website 'Yes to Lisbon' (a suitably obsequious name if I may say so) from "The Irish Alliance for Europe". The alliance plans to spend €750,000 over the next six weeks "informing the public about the benefits of a Yes vote". In other words, scaremongering.

I had a visit to the site today and it's quite pitiful. It's filled with pictures of people sporting cheesy grins that make them look like sinister extras from Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Don't believe me? Well check it out yourself...

Hey is that a streaker?
'Europe is ours'

Presumably some marketing 'expert' figured that showing images of beaming lemmings would convince Irish people that everything would be OK and a Yes vote would be the best option...

We're actors really
"Even old people support it!"

"Even working girls support it!"

Hey honey, I was going to vote No to Lisbon over my concerns that it wasn't a good deal for Ireland, but now that I've seen so many smiling faces endorsing the Treaty, I can't think of any reason why I shouldn't vote Yes!

I actually took the time to read the content of what the site itself is saying and I thought I'd add in some of the concerns of those advocating a No vote and combine the two for a new feature which I've named 'Friday Face-Off'. Just to reiterate that the Yes stuff below is their own argument for why people should endorse the Treaty...

Point #1

Vote Yes to Lisbon: "The vast majority of changes this Treaty brings about are relatively minor in nature but combined they will give us a much more effective EU that will make it work harder for the people of Ireland."

Vote No to Lisbon: "Some of the changes this Treaty brings about will remove Ireland's right to veto decisions by the EU and will make the EU more effective at the expense of smaller states like Ireland."

Conclusion: Well, according to even the Yes camp itself the changes from the Treaty are minor which begs the question why we in Ireland need the Treaty at all? What's the point in voting for a document that will take away many of our own national rights? I would conclude that the No campaign's position is the correct one.

Point #2

Vote Yes to Lisbon: "There are threats that we as a nation face, that we cannot deal with on our own. This Treaty will better equip us and Europe to deal with the challenges of the 21st Century; such as climate change, the trafficking of women and children, energy security, drugs and globalisation."

Vote No to Lisbon: "It is foolhardy to suggest that we as a nation cannot deal with the challenges mentioned above. Furthermore there is no reason why a Treaty is needed to deal with these issues when the European Union is equipped already to tackle these threats."

Conclusion: I find it quite insulting to hear that we as a nation cannot face threats such as climate change, trafficking, drugs etc. on our own. If our own elected politicians feel that we can't tackle these issues then it's a sad sorry state of affairs indeed. I would conclude that Ireland, with EU assistance if necessary, can tackle these challenges. I see no need for the Treaty to help us tackle these matters and even independent commentators have said that the EU has been functioning just fine without what the Treaty is set to impose upon everyone. Again I'd conclude the No position to be the correct one.

Point #3

Vote Yes to Lisbon: "The EU will be more efficient so that it can make decisions quicker and easier with less red tape."

Vote No to Lisbon: "Such 'efficiency' would be at the expense of smaller states like Ireland whose power would be greatly reduced."

Conclusion: I find talk of "efficiency", "less red tape", "smoother institutions" etc to be buzz words and a simple smokescreen designed to mask the reality that smaller states like Ireland would have reduced voting power, plus a reduced ability to object to things we don't agree with. I'm not willing to give up aspects of sovereignty to make the EU a more efficient political machine because I know it will be to our detriment. I back the 'No' stance.

Point #4

Vote Yes to Lisbon: "The EU can finally end its focus on institutional reform and concentrate on making Europe more dynamic and prosperous for citizens in all its member states."

Vote No to Lisbon: "If a loss of focus on institutional reform means ultimately that smaller powers are silenced, then it is not a fair deal."

Conclusion: This is the most baffling point of all from the 'Yes' side and proves to me that they're talking out of their backsides. The use of spin here is extraordinary. What on earth are they on about by making Europe "more dynamic and prosperous for citizens". Is that the best the marketing think-tanks could come up with? I want the EU to live up to the principles it was founded upon and that is to give every nation-state a fair voice. I don't believe the Lisbon Treaty provides for that any more and thus I am more certain than ever that I will vote No.

I really think overall the 'Yes' campaign is a poor one. It is built upon scaremongering from the likes of Dick Roche and Garret Fitzgerald about Ireland's standing being damaged by rejecting the treaty which is utter nonsense. There was no backlash against French and Dutch voters for rejecting the EU Constitution (which is what the Lisbon Treaty is) and there would be no backlash against us.

The Yes campaign has also resorted to slagging off those of us who favour a No vote calling us "extreme", "lunatics" and so forth. Well I've always believed that if you resort to personal insults then you've lost the argument. So, I'll let you make your own minds up on their behaviour.

Ultimately, as the above points from their website highlight, the Yes campaign cannot provide any good reasons whatsoever why the Irish electorate should endorse this Treaty. Every time I've watched an advocate of the Lisbon Treaty on TV all I hear about is how the EU has been good to Ireland, we have had a great run etc. Well that may be true but that is the past tense. We are now talking about the future and the future make-up of the EU is going to be very different. We in Ireland must assess things carefully. I have also heard supporters of a Yes vote amazingly urging Irish people to NOT read the Treaty and instead just trust in the political parties. Well, I would never put my name to a document without reading it and I wouldn't put blind faith into any elected official I can assure you of that.

I would urge Irish people to read up about the Treaty as much as possible and yes that includes both sides. I'll be interviewing a respected academic from UCD this Wednesday who supports the Treaty so I am very open about having a full and frank debate on the Lisbon Treaty. I am confident that a No vote is the best decision for Ireland. I would urge people to give reading the convoluted Treaty a shot on the EU's website even though it is a ridiculously heavy read.

The important thing as I've said many times is that people become aware of what is at stake. I hate the idea that people will vote for this purely on the basis that their local TD told them to. Do not be naive enough to think that it's not a big issue considering there's been little mention of it on the continent. Remember that in France and Holland the EU Constitution was a major bone of contention and was ultimately rejected - only for the national parliaments of the countries to back the Treaty in their respective parliaments under its new name of 'The Lisbon Treaty'.

We have a privilege in Ireland that no other nation-state in Europe has. We have the ability to let the EU know what we really think of their agenda. I know what message I'll be sending. I'll be telling Brussels, and the lemmings in Dublin, that this is not a good enough deal for the citizens of Ireland, and not a good deal for the citizens of Europe either.


<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

© 2008 United Irelander.