The “Vote Yes for Jobs, the Economy and Ireland’s Future” advertising campaign for the Lisbon treaty is irresponsible. Nowhere in the treaty document are there any safeguards provided regarding Ireland’s economy, Irish jobs or our future. Throwing out such glib slogans in place of actual analysis is typical of the political lobotomisation of the FF years. Joan Burton of the Labour party claims the treaty is “good for women”. Excellent, so only a misogynist would vote against it.
Here’s the thing. We in Ireland have OUR OWN LAWS. If we feel women are being unfairly treated in this country then we can do something about it. If the EU feels women’s rights need to be protected then they should produce a focussed “rights charter” and put it to the approximately half a billion citizens of the EU. This is democracy and the Treaty of Lisbon is bad for democracy in the specific cases of member states and in the general sense of the governance of EU institutions reflecting the wishes of the citizens of those member states. What’s wrong with less verbose and more focussed treaties? Isn’t democracy kind of important? Why are almost all political parties in Ireland campaigning for a Yes vote? Doesn’t that mean we should vote yes?
Well I’m for democracy. Lots of other people claim to be but in this particular matter is seems to be much less important to most of the parties in Ireland than getting the “correct” response from the Irish people. So why are they all campaigning for a Yes vote. Well the reasons is that they’re not thinking of Ireland at all. They’re thinking of their European Party alliances, something 99% (perhaps :)) of the Irish electorate don’t seem to understand.
Article 138a of the Treaty of Maastricht, which states

“Political parties at European level are important as a factor for integration within the Union. They contribute to forming a European awareness and to expressing the political will of the citizens of the Union”

The below parties, listed by the order of foundation of their ancestor organisations, received official EU recognition and funding during the 2005 financial year.

  • European People’s Party: christian democrats and conservatives, including the CDU of Germany and the UMP of France.
  • Party of European Socialists: social democrats and democratic socialists, including the Socialist Party of France and the Labour Party of the United Kingdom.
  • European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party: liberal democrats and centrists
  • European Free Alliance: pro-devolution, independentist
  • European Green Party: greens
  • Alliance for Europe of the Nations: eurosceptics and nationalists
  • Party of the European Left: socialists and communists
  • European Democratic Party: centrists, european integrationists
  • Alliance of Independent Democrats in Europe: centrists
  • EUDemocrats: EU-critical and EU-reformists of centre and centre-left

Fianna Gael are members of the European People’s Party. Fianna Fail are members of the Alliance for a Europe of Nations (AEN). AEN is notably conservative and it’s felt that FF would actually be happier joining wht European Liberal Democrat & Reform Party which is already home to the PD’s. The Labour Party are members of the Party of European Socialists (PES).
Guess what? These parties qualify for EU funding and some of that trickles down to their member parties including those in Ireland. The Irish parties are following their official European party lines. Sinn Feinn is arguing for a NO vote which, correct me if I’m wrong, is supported by the Nordic Green Left Alliance.
Party politics is frustrating enough and R has pointed out to me that the current campaigning is a microcosm of a worse pan European issue we’ll all face if this treaty is ratified. Indeed, we may face it anyway. Whatever about the person who votes for FF because their father and grand father voted that way you can be damned sure they didn’t know they were voting for the AEN too. The democratic process becomes further subverted by these largely unpublicised coalitions which seek to influence the governance of the EU and the countries within it. When was the last time a FF TD had to justify a position supported by the AEN on national tv? (leave Lisbon aside of course as it very much is a special case)
Then there’s the scare mongering. Witness Dick Roche’s official comments about naysayers

“I do respect that people have concerns about it, and I also respect the point that there are many people who don’t want Europe, who don’t like Europe,” he said. “But the reality of it is that our future is so intimately tied up with Europe that it is in Ireland’s interest that Europe be more efficient and more effective and this treaty will make Europe more efficient and more effective.”

So that’s great then. Our future is intimately tied up with Europe. A concoction of political-speak if ever I heard it. We’re part of Europe. Isn’t geography wonderful. Let’s hear it for continental drift. The message is that you’d have to be daft to vote No. It’s a death sentence for all of us. To compile the list of direct and suggested faults of the naysayer, if you want to vote no to this thing you must be

  1. Anti-women
  2. Anti-Europe or just dislike Europe
  3. Anti-foreigner
  4. A flat-earther luddite
  5. Pro-America (cos you’re playing into their hands)
  6. A supporter of Sinn Fein
  7. Possibly a fascist
  8. Against future economic success and employment for Ireland
  9. Ungrateful for the role Europe has played in our development as a nation
  10. Incapable of understanding the benefits
  11. Gullible
  12. A Hindrance
  13. Essentially stupid

I had no idea I was such a bad human being. Whatever happened to conscientious objection. Maybe I’m just misguided. R is too, we could form a support group for other like minded idiots.
Does the Yes campaign take us for fools? Well on the strength that the majority of us voted for them they may be right but I think that Irish people will be more cautious about anything that could affect their wallets and the future side of their wads. The Yaysayers be reassured by the Irish Times article but may still be a bit worried that it could swing the other way quite quickly based on pressure from lobby groups
Should you read it? Well watch Gay Mitchell stumble though a panel discussion with VIncent Brown and Patricia McKenna on this issue…

Would you buy a used car from this man? Seriously, he’s totally unconvincing on the idea of voting for a text the general public won’t understand. A bit cavalier perhaps?
Interestingly enough, the Sunday Times has published extracts from the treaty today. Brian Cowen and Dick Roche may feel you shouldn’t bother to read it but thanks to the Sunday Times many people will have key extracts from the treaty at home. I sincerely hope they study it before deciding how to proceed.