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Lisbon lost, this Plan C we’ve heard nothing about… tell me more. June 13, 2008

Posted by WorldbyStorm in European Politics, European Union, Irish Politics.
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So… after Lisbon what next for Ireland in the EU? Some very preliminary thoughts.

You might have caught this snippet some time ago in the Irish Times:

.THE CHAIRMAN of the European Parliament’s constitutional affairs committee, Jo Leinen, has suggested that Ireland could be asked to leave the EU if it votes against the Lisbon Treaty.

He also said that another option would be for Ireland to seek opt-outs from various European policies and put an amended treaty to another referendum.

And he raised a reasonable point…

“If one country, Ireland or anyone else, is having a No and 26 (states) are having a Yes, it is as well not very democratic or acceptable that the 26 are blocked. Then I think it is reasonable to find out exactly what the No means. Is it a No to the total EU? Then, in fact, the country should leave the EU,” Mr Leinen told The Irish Times.

Mr Leinen, who is one of the most senior German MEPs, said all member states had an obligation of “loyalty or loyal co-operation” to the EU, which meant a state should not misuse its veto right and block other countries.

“In the event of a No vote the Union has to ask Ireland what exactly it objected to? If it has a principled problem with EU integration then it must negotiate a special relationship with the EU,” he said. “Ireland would be part of the EC (European Community), but not part of the EU.”

Or…

One example of this type of arrangement is Norway, which rejected joining the EU in referendums held in 1972 and 1994.

That doesn’t sound great, now does it? But is it the reality?

Well he goes on in a somewhat more ameliorative fashion:

Mr Leinen said he did not think Ireland would leave the EU because it generally accepted European unity. A more likely option was adding opt-outs or declarations to the treaty to enable a new referendum, as occurred with the Nice Treaty, he added.

But he said this would not be easy because there were very few new EU competences created by the Lisbon Treaty and Ireland had already negotiated opt-outs.

A country tends to be weakened when it opts out of various EU policies, added Mr Leinen, citing Denmark, which after saying no to the Maastricht treaty in 1992 negotiated opt-outs from justice, defence, citizenship and the euro. Denmark is to hold a referendum in the autumn to remove some of these exceptions.

“So you [Ireland] could lose time and lose comfort and be a bit marginalised,” he added.

‘A bit marginalised’… okay. It’s not the end of the world, and once more I’m not going to lose sleep over it.

Still, there are more interesting thoughts here and there about what next…

Richard Laming at Federal Union, a profoundly pro-federal EU website asks ‘what happens if the vote does reject the Treaty?’. As it happens I’m more wedded to the intergovernmental than the federal model, but at least this article attempts to address the issues in some fashion.

But he prefaces this with a good analysis which argues that:

…the consequences of an Irish No vote. I think these consequences would be rather different, because an Irish No would not be an expression of hostility to the EU as such but rather an expression of doubt about its pace and direction. The real meaning of a No vote lies in the motivation of the No campaigners and not only in the legal and institutional consequences of the treaty’s rejection. (This is why a British No vote would be such a threat to British membership of the EU.)

He suggests that:

I don’t think that an Irish No would have particularly serious consequences for Ireland, but it would have serious consequences for the Irish and for the EU as a whole. By that, I mean that the threats of isolation and Ireland being sidelined in future EU developments are rather hollow. If there is a proposal for a future EU initiative on some aspect of economics, for example, it will be open to Ireland to choose whether or not to take part. The judgement of the other countries of the desirability of Irish participation will not be substantially affected by a No vote. If such a vote were the start of a longer-term isolationist policy trend within Ireland itself, then things might turn out to be different, but we cannot say for sure if that will transpire in practice.

I think, I hope, that we’re not looking at this sort of longer-term isolationist instinct, although I find the Libertas intervention entirely dispiriting. I’ve mentioned before how it gave a certain gloss to a middle class voice that had been prior to this fairly supine.

Going further… and I’m pulling huge blocks of text here…

In looking at the consequences for the EU as a whole, it is worth dividing the effect of the Lisbon treaty can be divided into two parts: improvements to the effectiveness of the EU institutions, and improvements to the standard of democracy. If the Lisbon treaty is rejected, what happens to those two parts?

Many of the proposals for effectiveness can be dealt with in other ways. A number of the institutional questions, such as representation regarding foreign affairs, can be addressed in some degree through intergovernmental decisions and changes to the working methods of the Commission and the Council. It would be preferable for these changes to be explicitly written into the treaties, and explicitly confirmed by the voters, but they will not all be lost.

So, from my perspective, no great problem there. And it’s not difficult to envisage that sometime further down the road the situation might change through referendum. Still, interesting to note that on the federal/democratic axis the situation seems rather different. Laming argues:

But the democratic aspects will be much harder to resurrect. Many of these, such as strengthening the link between the European elections and the choice of Commission president, have been watered down in the current text since the Convention first proposed them, and it is hard to see how national governments will want to fight hard for them now (many of them actually think that proposals for more European democracy make their life harder rather than easier). At the very minimum, there is likely to be delay beyond the elections to the European Parliament to be held next June.

And here is the thing, this tension between national governments and democratic structures is already one where the governments are winning. After all, what government is keen on “…making their life harder rather than easier ?”

Nor is Laming sanguine about the future…

Failing to improve the democratic quality of the EU institutions at the same time as attempting to do more through them (there are many issues on the agenda where we need Europe to play an important role) may well end up making things worse rather than better.

This feeds into some of the thoughts on the Pat Kenny show this morning on the Lisbon Treaty [incidentally, Lucinda Creighton made some credible points – which is troubling in any number of ways]. Our sometimes comment… er… what is the term, commentator… John Palmer was featured on it.

He argued that it’s a ‘very serious crisis indeed… not entirely unexpected … This falls into the lap of the French government who will have to put to…’

He also suggested…

A joint statement by French and German government wanting to continue with process of ratification… and to my surprise the UK govt are continuing with ratification. Since all indications are that every other member state will vote Yes we will have a situation where 26 countries said Yes and ireland said No.

He saw this as leading to two possibilities… one where the Irish government accepted that while they can’t be bound by Treaty… it would be unreasonable to prevent the others from succeeding and consequently they would negotiate a new relationship… somewhat, but not necessarily permanently, distanced from the EU. However, he also pointed to a…

Sinister alternative… if a Conservative government comes in in London in the next 18 months, who want to renegotiate relationship with Europe, Ireland would face unenviable choice in relationships with the UK or EU.

Jens-Peter Bonde, a Danish eurosceptic (of a most interesting kind), disagreed suggesting this was nonsense since it was outside the terms of the Treaty itself, but Palmer was adamant, that the dynamic the other 26 can adopt the Treaty and invite the Irish to negotiate the relationship.

I don’t know but I’d tend to the view that it is difficult to see how 26 countries won’t move forward. Why shouldn’t they? There’s no advantage to the status quo.

Fascinating too how Patricia McKenna responded to the ongoing result. She was unable to clearly articulate why national sovereignty as expressed through parliaments was somehow less democratic than referendums (which is a bizarre paradox that keeps cropping up time and again in these discussions – because for those of us who actually like it being intergovernmental rather than federal it really is up to national legislatures rather than direct votes through referendums, or rather the latter shouldn’t per se trump the former). Nor was her response to John Palmer’s question as to what Brian Cowen should be looking for when he next meets the EU leaders and what concessions he should get entirely convincing. Her answer, he should say… “I want you to stop at this point…” … Yes, that’ll work.

Listening to all this, reading other pieces, clarifies some of my own thoughts. I was once, in a fairly received way, quite wedded to the federal model. Result? Supportive of the EU. But now I’ve shifted much more to an intergovernmental viewpoint. Result? Critically supportive of the EU, and consequently a Yes vote yesterday. The thing is that I’m simply not concerned about issues of ‘democratic’ legitimation that seems to exercise federalists, or the more starry eyed on the No side. To me this is about sovereign nations pooling some sovereignty but retaining their individual identities. I can’t really see how it can be otherwise in the context of multiple languages, etc. So, while an EU wide vote on a Treaty is a great idea on one level, I simply don’t believe it will happen, that there is any political or popular will for it and therefore have put it out of my mind. Nor can I envisage a clear means towards a single EU foreign policy – to take an example. At best the EU can formulate – as it largely does now – broad brush stroke policies that allow for national derogations. Indeed, oddly, I’m quite happy with the way things are going as we stand now. I see no percentage in hoping that the EU will be a ‘social EU’ in any meaningful way in the short term. Not least because there appears to be no appetite on the left to engage with its institutions in such a way as to bring that state about. I might like such a thing, indeed I do like it. But who is pushing for it? What we wind up with in reality is a centrist entity… no change there.

And let me bring in a most unlikely source of reference material, for John Waters in today’s Irish Times voted Yes as well, and although on a different journey has wound up in a similar place. His conclusion is that:

The problem is that now it is too late to opt for any kind of alternative. The core concept of development pursued in Ireland over the past two or three decades has centred on the creation of a cuckoo-in-the-nest economy, in which foreign investors undertake to provide employment here in return for certain benefits. This model of economy is intimately bound up with our membership of the EU, and would be impossible to alter without enormous trauma and pain.

Strangely, although still a sceptic, I have come to believe that, yes, we are all Europeans now, and it isn’t all bad. The influx of east European immigrants since 2004 has in my view greatly enhanced this society, its economy and culture. I don’t think the economic model we have opted for is ideal, but it is the one we have chosen and it has worked well on its own terms.

Sounds sensible to me, not least the reality that EU membership has provided us with the hook for much of the external investment. And that is why talk about leaving the EU seems politically premature. Too many people benefit too clearly from our membership. But, while Waters says that ‘… it has worked well on its own terms’… yesterday we just changed those terms, perhaps in a small way, perhaps in a significant way. What does happen next week, and the week after? Michael Martin, Foreign Minister, suggests that time for reflection is necessary. But, how much? Because a final thought on the matter from Federal Union captures the nature of our situation…

Rejecting the new treaty does not leave us with the status quo – nothing in the outside world is standing still – so an Irish No vote will weaken Europe and deny its citizens the voice they ought to have.

I may have problems with the precise analysis behind the second part of that statement (although not it’s totality), but I certain don’t with the first two.

Comments»

1. Damian O'Broin - June 13, 2008

I know the Lisbon Treaty has thrown up some strange bed-fellows, but WBS and John Waters? I never saw that one coming! 😉

Good piece, and I’d share much of your analysis. I’m strangely feeling increasingly depressed about the result. I think it has left a big mess which may take a long time to clear up. I also think Lisbon – unlike Maastricht, Amsterdam and to a lesser extent Nice – actually was a pretty good step in the right direction in terms of democratisation and social policy.

But I think it’s the little Irelander lurking below the surface that Lisbon scratched that has me most concerned. Mé Fein-ism seems to have a hegemonic hold on us now. And to see the IFA and others using Lisbon as a cheap bargaining chip was profoundly depressing. The sight of Padraig Walshe on Q and A telling us how Lisbon would be so good for farmers only a week after he was sabre rattling about how it would be the death-knell for the Irish farmer… that sort of crap, as much as anything will have contributed to the no vote.

Ho, hum. I think I’ll stick to hurling for the weekend and try and cheer myself up. C’mon Dublin.

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2. ejh - June 13, 2008

Another view is that people will not feel that twenty-six countries have voted Yes and one No, but that none have voted Yes and one has voted No.

The point is not that you have to have a referendum – I fully understand the arguments against. But people really are going to reckon, whether John Palmer wants them to or no, that the main reason people aren’t being invited to vote is that when people do, they don’t give the result that’s required.

Now you can keep that up for a certain amount of time, but eventually, what will happen is that you get to the point where you lost democratic legitimacy in people’s minds. And you then have a crisis which is pretty much a crisis of your own making. I put it to the court that this is what happened to the EU yesterday and today, and that complaining about what the No camp said, or who they are, may obscure that point but it will not remove it.

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3. Joe - June 13, 2008

Surely the political establishment’s Plan B will be the same as it was for Nice. Stay quite (“to reflect on and analyse the reasons for the outcome”) for a few months. Go to Brussels and seek reassurances (and you never know, maybe a few bob) for the Irish people from our European partners. The reassurances will be in the form of answers to some of the alleged concerns of Irish people which led them to vote no – already I hear the establishment spreading an urban myth that mothers across the country voted no “because they didn’t want their sons conscripted into a European army”. And then go back to the people for Lisbon 2. It’ll only be a real crisis (for Ireland’s political establishment) if we vote no the second time.

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4. Joe - June 13, 2008

That smiley in the above post was an accident – it was supposed to be a closing bracket. But it kind of works!

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5. WorldbyStorm - June 13, 2008

Damian, I share much of your thoughts on this. I’m not depressed though. The one thing that strikes me is that following on logically (!) from John Waters piece, is that we’re too embedded both economically, politically and … dare I say… psychologically. We don’t want to move to the exit. A straight Yes or No on EU membership (which weirdly might have been more useful) would give a different result.

ejh, I know precisely where you’re coming from. And that is of course the flaw in JPs approach. That said, there are many states in Europe which don’t have referendums because that’s not part of their political system. What then? We force that model onto sovereign states because we believe in the primacy of sovereign states to make their own frameworks to deal with these things? Doesn’t compute. And again, much depends on where you come down on the democracy/sovereignty (national democracy – if you like) side. I don’t want Ireland to be constituency 27 of an EU, I’d bet at root few would. But that is the logic of the democracy push. In other words it may be near impossible to square that circle in the short to medium term.

Joe, given that what do you think the outcome of all this will be?

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6. Damian O'Broin - June 13, 2008

A straight Yes or No on EU membership (which weirdly might have been more useful) would give a different result.

Hmmm, how about that for a plan C. Cowen goes to country with an all-or-nothing referendum – back Lisbon or we quit the EU? 🙂

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7. alastair - June 13, 2008

There’s always Plan D – hear me out…

Re-negotiating on the back of the No campaign’s concerns is obviously problematic – it covers such a wide gamut that no-one could make head nor tail of them. The common issues are the least sexy ones (rotating Commissioner, QMV ratios), so coming back with tweaks in those areas probably won’t placate anyone.

What’s needed is a voice right in the centre of the ‘elites’ who can represent the entire No vote’s concerns and keep any sly europokery at bay.

Just give the people Commissioner Jim Corr (on a non-rotating basis of course!) and we can all move forward. Just not in black helicopters. Problem solved.

Oh, and the mythical mother with the conscription concerns is real – if a bit overplayed.

I’m blaming poor contextual information provision on the part of the state, and the bone idle laziness of the electorate for where we are now – 30% to the former, 70% to the latter. It’s not as if anyone actually bought the No points of argument, surely?

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8. Gypsy - June 13, 2008

Isn’t Gilmore’s position a lot different than De Rossa’s. Didn’t De Rossa vote in the EU parliament that the the EU shouldn’t recognise a NO vote? Yet Gilmore is now saying that Lisbon had to be ratified by all 27 countries and as Ireland has voted No – that it is now dead. Did Labour not discuss a strategy for dealing with a no vote?

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9. ejh - June 13, 2008

That said, there are many states in Europe which don’t have referendums because that’s not part of their political system. What then?

Then they shouldn’t have them. I don’t have any problem with that. What I do have a problem with is the pretence that the other twenty-six countries are all in favour, because all their parliaments said so. In a constitutional sense that’s true but we can all see that it’s masking a reality which is that the political establishments of the EU countries think something very different to what their populations think. And you can’t evade that forever. I really think that it’s this is what brings about a No vote in the Eu’s most pro-European country: that nobody much likes or trusts the EU because it plays a game called “democracy only when it suits us”.

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10. alastair - June 13, 2008

“it’s masking a reality which is that the political establishments of the EU countries think something very different to what their populations think.”

Except for where it doesn’t. Spain and Luxembourg voted yes in referendums after all.

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11. ejh - June 13, 2008

When did Spain do that?

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12. sonofstan - June 13, 2008

WBS, I take what you mean by preferring an inter- governmental model to a federal model, and I think I agree with you, but do you not think a rubicon was crossed with the ERM/ ECU? rather than a set of cooperating economies, we became one economy, and at that point, some kind of political structure commensurate with the economic reality became necessary?

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13. alastair - June 13, 2008

“When did Spain do that?”

2005 – the original constitutional treaty.

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14. ejh - June 13, 2008

And that vote applies to the present arrangement, negotiated after that date?

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15. alastair - June 13, 2008

I don’t see why not – it’s essentially the same content – the Spanish referendum wasn’t a binding one on the government in any case – but it’s certainly a sign that they were in tune with what the Spanish public were prepared buy into.

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16. Tiny Planet » Treaty of Lisbon - June 13, 2008

[…] Under company policy I am barred from blogging about politics, so I cannot comment directly on Ireland’s rejection of the treaty. However, such prohibitions do not apply to other websites (or these ones either). […]

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17. ejh - June 13, 2008

I don’t see why not

Right, well isn’t that the problem? That as long as you’ve got your vote on something else, you’re quite prepared to pretend that it applies to this as well?

Isn’t it very visible to people across Europe that when there’s a vote that the EU wins, it counts, but when it loses, it has to be held again until they win? Or that next time it doesn’t get held at all in case the population don’t vote the way they’re told?

Isn’t this the problem? And doesn’t the chorus of “ignorant electorate” which meets every rejection actually exacerbate that problem?

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18. alastair - June 13, 2008

The Spanish vote wasn’t on ‘something else’ – it was on the constitutional treaty – which included everything in the current treaty plus a few extra whistles and bells. The only ‘pretence’ that comes into play is representing the treaty as a different ballgame altogether.

And I’ve some sympathy for the EU position on the Nice I vote – the pointless tweaking on the neutrality issue was clearly a flag of convenience to allow a domestic protest vote to make way for something that at least engaged with the issue at hand.

Do I like the shell game of renaming a constitution to a treaty and therefore bypass popular referendum? Not particularly, but going straight to democratically elected national legislators to provide for what’s mainly nuts and bolts administrative tweaks is perfectly valid if you’re going to be faced with the sort of off-the-wall diversions that have been evident here.

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19. WorldbyStorm - June 13, 2008

Commissioner Jim Corr – eh Alastair. I like it 🙂 It has a ring to it. Still were he to take the position it would merely be proof positive that the elites had got to him…

ejh, again, I understand the point you make, but… why this issue and no other (incidentally, I’m excluding say the UK where there should have been a ref because Labour had it in their manifesto)? Or do all such get put to referendums. Why is the EU sui generis, why not social policy, and if that why not something else, and if that where do we draw the line? My feeling is that as long it is clearly written into a party manifesto that they are pro-one course of action or another then that’s fair enough.

As regards the EU ignoring it… years of discussions and revision after the Constitution fell. That’s not ignoring a result, that’s engaging with it and moving on. And to be honest reading SF’s statements you’d think that with the very point that Alastair rightly makes above about the rather minor issues re QMV/Commission representation that would be sufficient … but somehow looking at the track record – and again as he says – whatever meat is thrown at them won’t be sufficient…

And the problem is there is an element of not knowing. Recently I met someone who supports a leading No campaigner. This person told me that they were voting No because they were Irish nationalists (they’re from an FG background) and that they didn’t agree with the EU telling us what light bulbs we can use.

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20. ejh - June 13, 2008

ejh, again, I understand the point you make, but… why this issue and no other (incidentally, I’m excluding say the UK where there should have been a ref because Labour had it in their manifesto)? Or do all such get put to referendums.

With respect, if you’re responding “do all such get put to referendums” then you don’t understand the point I’m making.

1. everybody can see that whether or not votes are allowed, and whether their results are respected, has a lot to do with which way they go.

2. there is every reason to believe that the supposed twenty-six “yeses” don’t actually represent the will of the people in those twenty-six states and it’s specious to pretend that it terms of public opinion, Ireland is the odd man out.

3. the EU is widely perceived as being aproject which is contemptuous of public opinion and its democratic expression – and many reactions to Ireland’s No vote, instead of tryig to deal with that, mrely demonstrate it.

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21. CL - June 13, 2008

When Cowen goes to Brussels next week he has to represent the democratic will of the Irish people as expressed in the No vote. The people have spoken. The problem is no one knows wtf they’ve said.
Libertas claimed Lisbon curtailed competition, Joe Higgins that it promoted neo-liberalism, and others that the Illuminati were behind it. So there’s no way Cowen can explain to his EU counterparts just what adjustments could be made that might induce Irish assent.

So he should assert that, under EU rules, the treaty is dead. If he doesn’t he loses legitimacy with the Irish people. And if the others proceed with ratification and implementation without Ireland, and contrary to EU rules, their legitimacy is further undermined.

Meanwhile unemployment is 200,000 and rising….

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22. Conor McCabe - June 13, 2008

Usually, when there’s a rake of contradictory reasons why people voted no to something, the common link is the fact that they weren’t given good enough reasons to vote yes. Libertas? Sinn Féin? Youth Defense? Talk about a divided opposition. The government should have made mince meat of them, but they weren’t able to do so for a couple of reasons.

The first was Bertie and the tribunal. It sapped too much energy, took too much focus away from the issue at hand. From January through to April it seemed that all of the government’s energy was spent on fighting Bertie’s battles, and securing his legacy. Certainly, all of the then Taoiseach’s energies were spent on these issues. By the time he was removed from the national stage – 12 May – we were into the final weeks of the campaign. Factor in the week it took for Brian Cowen to get his open-top bus parade of Clara out of the way and you’re looking at three full weekends. Libertas had been going since January.

This leads to the second problem: Brian Cowen himself and Enda “I’m a Catholic” Kenny. Cowen’s a county councilor of a politician, with a county councilor mindset, he started off the campaign not by criticising the opposition to Lisbon, but his fellow campaigners in Fine Gael and Labour! Incredible! Then, Fine Gael respond in kind, with Richard Bruton telling all and sundy on the national airwaves that Brian Cowen doesn’t know what he’s talking about on Lisbon because he hasn’t read it! And this is the same team? Farcical.
And as for Kenny. Well. Last Monday’s questions and answers was so important if they wanted to turn people’s thoughts on Lisbon, and, God, they sent Kenny into bat. (And you just KNOW that Kenny insisted as well.) Kenny lost Fine Gael the election in his debate with Bertie, and he did the same again on Monday with Lisbon. He was incapable of making a cogent point. Overall, neither he or Cowen could rise above their Fianna Fail and Fine Gael jerseys – Cowen is despised by the blueshirts. He knows this, and yet made no attempt at a consensus. There’s the character of the man for you.
The third rests with Fianna Fail itself. Simply jaded after ten years in power, these days it seems to spend more of its time (and money) on media consultants than on sounding out grassroots feeling – and I mean genuine grassroots feeling, not asking your yesmen in your branch what’s going on.
either one factor on its own wouldn’t have been enough to give a disjointed opposition an edge, but all together, well…

I don’t expect Brian Cowen and FF to get much of a roasting off the Irish media, but next week in Europe don’t be surprised if Cowen comes home singing soprano with his balls in a jar.

Meanwhile, as CL said, unemplyment is rising, and Cowen and his gang haven’t got a fucking clue how to deal with it. Four more years indeed.

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23. WorldbyStorm - June 13, 2008

CL, in your analysis does the point you make apply to Lisbon alone, or to any future Treaties? In other words if Cowen returned with a promise from the partners that Lisbon Redux, or say a “Dublin” Treaty was a way forward with various extras etc, would he then be covered to say yes he’d return to the Irish people. Because if it’s just Lisbon, then they could presumably return time and again with, X Treaty, Y Treaty or whatever until we’re satisfied… That doesn’t worry me overly.

No disagreement from me Conor on your analysis.

ejh, no, I do know where you’re coming from, but again a lot depends on the states involved and national circumstances. As I said, I feel the UK breached that by promising and then denying a referendum. But that doesn’t mean that every call for a referendum has to be listened to. A lot depends on the individual nation. Beyond that I think that we actually can’t be certain that the ‘yeses’ don’t represent the will of the electorates… and I don’t think it’s logical to think Ireland isn’t at least on one side of a divide, since during the Constitution electorates voted either way, which only goes to prove that views are mixed, they’re contingent on local circumstance, etc, etc. Read the responses here to the earlier post by Wu Ming and the above one by me. The main reason being presented for the defeat? A divided and inept government and opposition. Now that raises alarms in my head as to how a vote affecting a continent can devolve to the political machinations of a single individual… that somehow seems to me to be problematic. My problem with referendums in this context is that they’re too blunt an instrument to make decisions as regards the EU – unless we go the federalist route.

What seems to be a reading of this is that if a veto occurs, as happened re the Constitution, or indeed Nice, and now Lisbon when there is a renegotation and that then is accepted the sense is that somehow this represents a lack of ‘respect’. I genuinely don’t understand that. Why is it disrespectful to address a situation? How does this represent a contempt to public opinion (however that can be calculated or democratic expression?). And to be honest I don’t have a problem whereby there are numerous successive attempts to achieve a consensus.

As for the ‘wide perception’, it’s a perception in some places and not in others, I’m not sure it’s possible to make more of it than that.

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24. Conor McCabe - June 13, 2008

WBS, with regard to referendums. The reason why we have referendums here on Europe is because the changes are changes to our fundamental legal rights and responsibilities. They may be changes for the better, or changes for the worse. Nonetheless, they are changes, and when those fundamental laws are to be changed, they have to be put to a plebiscite. They are not held for changes in social and economic policy, or indeed with regard to laws, because usually such policies and laws are framed WITHIN the context of already existing fundamental rights and responsibilities. Those rules apply for all legislation passed by the oireachtas, and as of yet, Europe does not supersede the oireachtas except in those areas already agreed to in previous plebiscites.

That is why you don’t have referendums for social policy, ‘cos usually such policies are framed within the context of fundamental rights and laws. However, when a change to fundamental law is proposed, then yes, you have to ask the people first. and I don’t see any problem with that as it avoids the slippery path to rule by decree.

On another point, there’s a lot being made at the moment about local issues playing on this result – the most popular one I’ve heard today is that working class areas voted no. (Irish commentators and media didn’t believe there was an Irish working class until the no vote, but there you go.) But the point I want to make is that what we got yesterday was a national trend – i mean, the results were surprisingly uniform across the country. mid 50s no, etc. So, there’s something happening at a national level for that type of result to manifest itself – it’s not just farmers here, and anti-abortionists there, but something at a national level that requires a national analysis to explain the national trend. And the national trend that came out of last week’s Irish Times poll is that people didn’t feel informed enough to make a decision. And who’s fault is that? I mean, I can tell you who my local city councilors are after the Lisbon campaign,but not the reasons to vote yes apart from the sky falling down if we don’t.

With regard to referendums and Ireland. There is a democratic deficit in Ireland when it comes to Europe. We simply are not informed of what is going on, or why these changes are necessary. Even during the campaign we were told “trust us” and that was pretty much it. (and “trust us” by the same people who stood shoulder to shoulder with Bertie up to last month.) Now, two things can be done. Europe can start informing us of what is going on, or they can ignore us and blame it all on our democratic right to live in a society where collectively we agree the fundamental principles, leaving the legislature to do the rest WITHIN those terms of reference, and not outside them.

And it looks like Europe is going to try to ignore us and blame our democratic rights as the problem, in the name of democratic “efficiency”.

As for myself, I’m very pro-European, but I don’t want a right-wing one, and I didn’t feel comfortable enough with that was being said by the Yes campaign to believe that we were not being set up for a right-wing Europe, one where the fundamental rights were being set up for the market, leaving us to scrape a sorry balance with subsequent legislation framed within a right-wing matrix.

Now, I could be wrong, but I didn’t hear enough to convince me otherwise, and I wasn’t taking the chance. So I voted no.

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25. NollaigO - June 13, 2008

“The most progressive state in Western Europe” .

[I have not read any of the above posts (agus tá mise beagánín maith mo dhótain) but I hope its a discussion on the referendum result.]

The above quote is from the late Desmond Greaves and it was his estimation of the Irish Republic in the 1960s. The Irish Republic is living up to Greaves’ epitaph, not because its citizens (not subjects) voted against The Lisbon Treaty but because it gave its citizens the political right to chose.

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26. edifice - June 13, 2008

So WBS, you voted Yes. The so called intellectual left making excuses for the actions for the establishment right. Smiffy must be having an undue influence on you because campaigning secured a No vote and only campaigning can undo it. And that rules the both of you out. The Workers Party must have crossed you of their Christmas Card list.

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27. CL - June 13, 2008

WBS-Yes I think they have to return with something again for Ireland to ratify. But not immediately. Cowen may not have a plan B but it appears that the EU does. Merkel and Sarkosy will proceed without Ireland. The Telegraph today reports:
“There are advanced plans in Brussels for a “bridging mechanism” to allow Ireland to be removed from the list of signatories to the Lisbon Treaty after the EU’s 26 other member states have ratified it.’

Ireland will continue to remain in the euro and be covered by existing Treaties but will be left out of the creation of an EU president and foreign minister, which would proceed as planned.

By late 2009 or early 2010, when Croatia joins the EU, an amending “Accession Treaty” will be signed by all members including Dublin.

Incorporated into it would be a series of protocol texts giving paper “opt-outs” on controversial Irish EU issues, such as taxation powers or greater military co-operation”

This seems plausible. And Cowen is surely aware of it. He probably is the county councilor type. Burbling on about a ‘time of uncertainty’ and ‘uncharted waters’ is not leadership.
Merkel and Sarkosy can proceed without Ireland but without Britain? Hardly. But Brown seems not for turning. So Ireland will have to adjust to what Merkel and Sarkosy decide. How will this affect politics in Ireland? An opening for Ganley and an opportunity for Sinn Fein? Perhaps

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28. Andy Newman - June 13, 2008

On the issue of referenda, both ejh and WbS are partially correct.

WbS is correct that we cannot automatically assume that those governments that are ratifying the treaty without a referedum are necessarily ignoring the will of the people.

However, there are certainly countries – and the UK springs to mind – where there will be no referendum because there is no way on Earth that a Yes vote could be acheived.

but i don’t see how the EU can sell the idea that the Irish vote doesn’t matter, when the french and Dutch votes DID stop the constitution. Surely the idea that ireland doesn’t matter by france and holland do would be a hard one to sell to Irish voters?

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29. Conor McCabe - June 13, 2008

Ahhh, the left-wing sectarian dig. Edifice, Gawd bless yeah. Nobody campaigning “no” knocked on my door. I had leaned yes until last monday’s “questions and answers.” Michael Martin and Enda Kenny’s absolute failure to ally lingering doubts swung it for me. The “no” weren’t exactly that convincing either. In fact, the majority of the “no” campaigners, in any other situation, I would more than happy to puke on from a height. I mean, this was hardly a left-right divide. Libertas? Youth Defense? Core. Ganley’s links with Omega Air? Absolute shower of cunts. None of them Liam Bradys, man. No kicking with the left foot there. A reluctant “no”, only because I was a more reluctant “yes”.

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30. Ciarán - June 14, 2008

Lisbon is dead. Long live Lisbon 2. At least we can enjoy the victory while it lasts.

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31. Ciarán - June 14, 2008

NollaigO: The Irish Republic is living up to Greaves’ epitaph, not because its citizens (not subjects) voted against The Lisbon Treaty but because it gave its citizens the political right to chose.

The state didn’t grant that right to citizens in the 26 counties, people like Raymond Crotty had to demand it. And had to go to the Supreme Court to achieve it.

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32. Ian - June 14, 2008

I’ve just had a lovely evening. I was out with a diverse bunch of Europeans from Germany, Greece, Belgium, Macedonia, France and Poland and guess what?? Every single one of them was giving out yards about how Ireland has got €40 billion from the EU, how 1% of the EU has blocked progress for 450 million people etc. Believe me, they were happy to kick Ireland out of the EU. This result really has ticked off a lot of our European friends.

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33. Conor McCabe - June 14, 2008

In fairness Ian, it seems to have ticked off a lot of your European friends. France and Holland rejected what was virtually the same treaty. Would your friends be happy to kick France and Holland out as well? Or is it just Ireland that deserves this treatment for saying no.

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34. Ian - June 14, 2008

Perhaps. I pointed out to them that if Ireland was voting on the original European Constitution (as opposed to the complicated Lisbon Treaty), it might have been easier to sell to the Irish people as the ‘not being understandable’ aspect of the vote, which I reckon was decisive in this election, would not have been as strong. There’s the irony of the French/Dutch vote. If we had had a referendum on the Constitution a few years back it may well have passed. Still though, whatever the merits of the No argument, the fact is less than one million out of 450 million have blocked the EU project. I respect the outcome but that won’t stop Europe from viewing us as selfish so-and-so’s. We have to deal with that at the end of the day.

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35. Dec - June 14, 2008

The yes campaign was a fiasco.

As someone pointed out above they No campaign should have been blown out of the water. And it wasn’t precisely because the FF, FG and Lab are thought “that they will be blown out of the water” and expected the No people to self implode.

Yet I know of channels of co-ordination that were closely worked between all these groups. So for the Yes campaign you had a nightmare – the found themselves fighting a well funded, well co-ordinated campaign that appeared more divided than it actually really was.

Essentially the No campaign was a Hydra and the Yes campaign only realised the nature and threat it posed in the last week.

I think this result will bring pressure on the state to examine the referendum act that gives equal air time to either side and a new stratedgy is obviously needed so as to ratify EU treaties.

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36. Conor McCabe - June 14, 2008

Ian, it’s true about the view of Ireland as money-grabbers. and, have to say, that yeah, there’s probably more than a grain of truth in that one.

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37. Wednesday - June 14, 2008

the fact is less than one million out of 450 million have blocked the EU project. I respect the outcome but that won’t stop Europe from viewing us as selfish so-and-so’s. We have to deal with that at the end of the day.

And that, of course, is precisely the sort of thing that encouraged a lot of people to vote no. The attitude that we had to say yes because everybody else was saying yes. In effect we were being told that that the decision was already made and we were there to rubber-stamp it. People resented that and they had every right to resent it.

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38. WorldbyStorm - June 14, 2008

edifice, failte, long time no talk. I’ve voted Yes in European referendums we got the choice. So this is hardly a surprise and has absolutely nothing to do with smiffy’s influence one way or another.

As I’ve explained elsewhere my shift has been over that time from unthinking federalism towards support for intergovernmentalism precisely because I support national sovereignty. I would vote No against a more obviously federal document. As fundamental to me, and also noted elsewhere, is the fact that it’ll be a cold day in Hell before I vote on the same side of the equation as Youth Defence/Coir. And nothing I saw yesterday changed my mind on that. That’s a very personal response, but so what?

WRT WP’s Christmas Card list, never got one in the past, so that is of no particular concern… 😉 As for campaigning. I’ve campaigned across decades on a variety of issues, right up to the last 12 months where I was pounding the pavements, meeting people…. I was asked to campaign by good comrades against Lisbon, I declined, not least because I’d already had a slight input on the Yes campaign side and even though I was already at that stage tilting towards Yes I thought it would be hypocritical. So don’t pull the campaignier than thou stuff…

Conor, don’t get me wrong. Just because I think referendums are arguably not the best way of determining these matters (and like yourself I’ve endured campaign after campaign in our society which I think have been profoundly destructive societally – particularly those on social issues), doesn’t mean that I think that they should be done away with. But, even within the context you propose, there are those who argue Lisbon didn’t have the constitutional implications that necessitated a referendum. I think it did, others don’t. The point being that it’s not entirely cut and dried – and BTW, why not a referendum on social policy? That’d be most interesting to see the outcome…

But the broader point I’m trying to make is that it is perfectly fine for each nation to decide its own way on these matters, whether through parliamentary votes or referendums – but that the logical extension of that is that we have to respect both equally, whatever their outcomes. And my sense is that if the Irish people say No, that’s fine, then the elements of Lisbon have no impact on the Irish, but that the rest of the 26 or 26+1 can come to some negotiated outcome beyond Lisbon. I don’t see anything particularly wrong in that.

Can I say something that perhaps all of us whatever way we voted can be pleased with as an outcome of this. If CLs analysis is correct re the bridging mechanism, and we are outside the loop on the Presidency, it was always a long shot, and who knows how he’ll emerge from the next couple of weeks, but at least we can definitively kiss goodbye to the prospect of President Ahern of the EU. Almost worth a No vote..! Not quite though 😦

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39. WorldbyStorm - June 14, 2008

The problem is Wednesday, and it returns to issues of democracy, what then is the most democratic way forward? You, I presume, like myself balk at the idea of the “Irish Constituency” of the EU in a single EU wide vote where even if we voted No the overall vote would outweigh ours? But don’t national states also have rights as well in terms of determining their course forward, don’t others Yes’s have equal value to our No?

Or do you go with the McKenna line that this then just means stop. It seems equally undemocratic to me.

The only way I see forward is that the 26 or 26+1 route is arguably while flawed, the most democratic while paying attention to national sovereignty.

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40. sonofstan - June 14, 2008

Not to be a bore, but to repeat a question from earlier: do you think intergovernmentalism is viable and proportionate to a common currency area and what is moving towards a single economy? I’m not wholly supportive of federalist solutions either, but it seem to me there is a difficulty with effectively federal economic institutions without similar political ones.

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41. WorldbyStorm - June 14, 2008

Sorry, I didn’t catch that sonofstan. To my mind this is the central contradiction that has to be addressed. Which is why I’m on the this far, a little further, and that’s about it for a generation. I think the currency doesn’t have to be a problem, we’ve seen single currency areas, albeit in smaller form, before. That’s not to say that there shouldn’t be democratic elements. I personally was strongly in favour of the EP having a beefed up role in Lisbon… but it seems to me this marks an outline of the limits of the EU, something neither protagonists nor antagonists seem to want to admit…

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42. soubresauts - June 14, 2008

The headline of El País today:
Irlanda hunde a la UE en su peor crisis
“Ireland sinks the EU into its worst crisis”

I presume the headlines are similar throughout Europe. Doesn’t look good.

Are all of us Irish to blame?

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43. John Palmer - June 14, 2008

The best way forward would be for the other 26 Member States to complete ratification (18 already have). Then the Irish government should agree to the provision which allows the treaty to come into force if there is at least two thirds in favour. Dublin could volunteer to resile temporarily from involvement in those areas of decision directly affected by the Lisbon Treaty provisions at least while a solution is found within Ireland itself. I acknowledge this will not be simple. But this would be better than an Irish veto (made possible by c100,000 Irish voters) which prevents all the rest of the European Union (250 million people) going ahead. It should be remembered that the peoples of Spain and Luxembourg have already voted in referendums to ratify the original Constitutional Treaty but there votes now count for nothing.
There is another argument in favour of this strategy. If the Lisbon Treaty collapses and (as seems nearly certain) we get a Tory government in London over the next 19/24 months, Britain will reopen its fundamental relationship with the rest of the EU. That would then face Ireland with a very serious dilemma: whether to go with London or the rest of the EU (I say “London” because Scotland and Wales may insist on maintaining their present relationship with the EU). That is why – as I have said before – the “No” victory may indicate a path leading back to the British Commonwealth. Some victory for Sinn Fein.

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44. Are you listening, Jose Manuel Barroso, Javier Solana, Peter Mandelson? Your boys took one hell of a beating! « Splintered Sunrise - June 14, 2008

[…] ever, good commentary on this from WorldbyStorm, and Gray Falcon has an East European […]

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45. WorldbyStorm - June 14, 2008

John, I buy that to a degree. But, I do think that the nature of the vote has to be respected – so soubresauts, we’re not to blame but we have a right to say No, and that has to be tackled.

That means that any future decision by the RoI to adopt whatever agreement is reached between the 26 would require some very very overt opt-outs (I know they are there, but not with sufficient clarity to satisfy large swathes of Irish voters. I blame the Irish govt and other EU governments directly for that wriggle room that was opened to allow people doubts) and a clarification of the Commissioner to a 1 for 1 nation. There might be a number of other areas that could be reworked – and ironically, in view of my position vis intergovernmentalism/federalism, perhaps a greater democratic emphasis. I’m suspicious of that path, not because I’m anti-EU, but because it might lead to stresses that others who are could use.

If that were implemented I think that a new referendum around a new Treaty/Agreement would probably be passed.

Not sure though that we’re heading towards the Commonwealth though. I’d have thought that the Scottish/Welsh dynamics might actually push us closer to them, I certainly don’t see us losing the euro under any circumstances.

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46. Wednesday - June 14, 2008

WBS, any method short of putting the treaty directly to a popular vote across Europe would be undemocratic to some degree, and they were hardly ever going to consider that. Anyway I don’t recall people saying in 2005 that it was undemocratic that the Netherlands and France could block the Constitution – why were their Nos more valid than ours?

Another point that I think is important is that this wasn’t merely a referendum on a European treaty. It was a referendum on a change to the Irish constitution. Surely that is for Irish citizens alone to decide … if not then perhaps it is time to think about changing the laws that limit the franchise on referenda to Irish citizens …

The suggestion that the No vote may push us back into the Commonwealth – another example of the Yes side’s ridiculous scaremongering. If anything I would imagine there would be some consideration now within the political establishment to trying to break the pattern that has developed of Britain and Ireland going it alone on so many issues, for example, I’d be surprised if there wasn’t at least some talk in government circles about us joining fully in the Schengen arrangements. It was made obvious to us at the doors that the sense of Europeanness among the urban working class (and I’d imagine the same would be true of the rural) is well below that of the Irish Times brigade – the penny must be starting to drop on that point and if they ever want to win another EU referendum again they must know they’ll have to address it.

WBS I forgot to pick you up on this:

it’ll be a cold day in Hell before I vote on the same side of the equation as Youth Defence/Coir.

Does that mean you voted Yes in the last abortion referendum?

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47. Maolsheachalnn O Ceallaigh - June 14, 2008

Indeed, oddly, I’m quite happy with the way things are going as we stand now. I see no percentage in hoping that the EU will be a ’social EU’ in any meaningful way in the short term.

Why doesn’t that surprise me? The left in Ireland (and Europe) has never really cared about social or economic questions…the liberal and internationalist agenda is your real priority, and the working and living conditions of the poor has always been less exciting than trying to abolish national cultures and finding another minority group to champion (usually to their detriment).

The working class overwhelmingly voted No to this Treaty. The working classes are not liberals or internationalists. They know that internationalism is bad for them, that they’re going to pay the price in lower wages and more insecure working lives. Also, they haven’t bought into the cultural cringe that wants to throw away an achievement that took centuries– a national life of their own– in quest of some cosmopolitan nirvana.

Why do people like yourselves even pretend to be left-wing? You’re liberals, and socialism, social democracy or the condition of the poor really has no importance to you. This referendum unerlined how far you are from the real concerns of the Irish working class. From a proud Little Irelander, and a true red socialist.

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48. edifice - June 14, 2008

WBS, You’re never going to be confronted with a document asking you to support a federalist Europe, you’ll wake up in one having supported the clandestine steps towards it. The Commission President and Foreign Minister positions are the embryonic manifestations of it. It is to these that powers will be gradually ceded, without referendums, and it will be these who will become principle policy makers within the EU. As for the make up of the No campaign as reason not to vote No I wonder if COIR was in favour of saving the whale would you be cheering on the Japanese because of it? The Left voted No in this referendum, you were on the other side.

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49. alastair - June 14, 2008

A lot of remarkable sudden insight as to the make-up and motivation for the no vote. Let’s be honest – the no vote was just as much a middle class vote as a working class one – the national breakdown was much of a muchness. The notion that a nation of true working class socialists rose up and voted no as a blow to liberal faux-lefty apologists for ‘internationalism’ is just another example of that grand old ideological self delusion that infects every splinter leftist group. But carry on with the infighting – it’s worked out great so far for championing the working class.

I’m going to pin my colours to the mast – no-one, but no-one will be able to pin their political bias to the meaning of the no vote. It’s far too contradictory to make any real sense in ideological terms.

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50. WorldbyStorm - June 14, 2008

edifice, that’s simply wrong. Some elements of the left voted No, others voted Yes. To posit this in left/right terms is pointless, as pointless as me saying that Libertas’ involvement on the No side indicated that only those on the further right were on that side.

As regards federalism, you’re missing my point entirely. I’m suggesting, and this goes for Wednesday’s point, that there is a dichotomy between national sovereignty and a more ‘democratic’ EU. The trade off is obvious. I tend towards the former rather than the latter. And to develop the point I made earlier I genuinely find it near impossible to envisage the sort of federal EU that people suggest. There is simply too great a disparity, particularly linguistic, to allow it to become a sort of shadow of the US, or indeed even the original CIS, at least not for many decades, and even then.

Maolsheachalnn, with all due respect, seeing as you know so much about me and my beliefs (or seem to think you do) why do you even bother writing it down? You only have to look into your heart… but again, if you read what I write you’d see that I actually disagree with a federal EU… so I can only guess you saw what you wanted to see.

Wednesday, as it happened I was in the US during that campaign and vote doing research. I’m not trying to be evasive, I ducked that bullet then, next time I probably won’t be so (un) fortunate. I would instinctively feel that in all but absolute necessity I’d avoid being anywhere close to them… I don’t consider this issue anywhere close to that necessity… some people do. As I said before, it’s a personal thing – dating back to the 1980s.

Let me add in the light of Alastairs remark, and partially in relation to my last point, this reminds me of the ‘there will be prizes for all’ situation. Every group on the No side will, and is, claiming ownership for this. Fair enough, each had a hand in it. But that there was such a contradictory mass of motivations makes forward movement addressing those difficult. Over on Machine Nation yesterday someone suggested a Convention on the topic. A good idea actually, but… how does one reconcile Coir and SF and Libertas (which to my mind are the three major strands that fed into the No vote, even if none represents it per se) in terms of a position towards the EU? I can’t see it. Even Maolsheachalnn’s post above points to a remarkably paradoxical bundle of motivations.

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51. Maolsheachalnn O Ceallaigh - June 14, 2008

WorldbyStorm, I was referring less to your own position than to the general mentality of the Irish liberal left. And there’s nothing paradoxical about my motivations. I’m a social, cultural and economic protectionist. The paradox is with liberals who don’t follow the logic of their own position and become neoliberals. Because that’s the truth, boys and girls…the logical end of liberalism is neoliberalism. Think about it.

Anyone on the (supposed) left who voted Yes is saying that neoliberalism is a price worth paying as long as we’re going down the road to European integration. And internationalism is not the same thing as Federalism, anyway.

As for why I would bother saying it, why indeed? I would rarely visit the haunts of the liberal left, but I was curious to see how you were reacting to this vote. I wasn’t surprised.

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52. Maolsheachalnn O Ceallaigh - June 14, 2008

But I will respond to Alastair’s point and agree that, yes, of course nobody can claim to understand WHY exactly the Irish people voted no. I’m just guessing on behalf of the working class areas whose No vote was so resounding. I’m sure there were many other motivations at work, and– of course– plenty of better-off people voted No, and I salute ’em.

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53. Maolsheachalnn O Ceallaigh - June 14, 2008

Alastair, I DO take your point that the No vote was as much middle-class as working class. I just think it’s significant that the poor voted No so resoundingly, and the cappuccino capital of Dublin South voted Yes.

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54. Maolsheachalnn O Ceallaigh - June 14, 2008

I’m sorry. I thought the last but one comment didn’t come through. I’ll shut up now.

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55. alastair - June 14, 2008

Guessing at the motivations for a working class no vote is all well and good, but it’s not really the same thing as a claiming:

A. That “The working class overwhelmingly voted No to this Treaty” – there was no more an overwhelming woking class vote than any other shade of vote – the figures are remarkably consistent nationally.

B. “They know that internationalism is bad for them, that they’re going to pay the price in lower wages and more insecure working lives. Also, they haven’t bought into the cultural cringe that wants to throw away an achievement that took centuries– a national life of their own– in quest of some cosmopolitan nirvana.” – Quite an extrapolation of your guess – and one that flies in the face of the electoral evidence to hand. Working class people vote primarily for those parties who populate the social democratic, centre, and centre-right grounds. That’s a political reality that gets re-confirmed election after election.

Presumably you have a favoured ideological and political model – and best of luck with it, but there’s obviously a pretty large gap between them and engaging with the “real concerns of the Irish working class”.

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56. WorldbyStorm - June 14, 2008

Maolsheachalnn, you’re always welcome to speak. Clearly we take different views on this. I don’t quite get your elision of liberal and left into liberal left, and I think that your leap from there to neo-liberal, is quite… a leap.

Again, I think there is a problem, again which alastair addresses which is that this vote (to my mind like many referendum votes) doesn’t map against the actual political position that people from various classes (incidentally, I’m not entirely comfortable with the elision either of poor and working class – and for more on that go to Conor’s thoughts on Dublin Opinion or indeed Michael Taft of Notes on the Front. It’s not that working class doesn’t include poor but the terms need to be defined fairly clearly to have meaning in a discussion of this sort). And that makes me pretty suspicious of drawing any large lessons from it. For example, today the IT argues, or at least some in it, that Libertas and SF will potentially make large gains off the back of it. I seriously doubt it. Anyone who has campaigned will know how difficult it is to get someone elected. New parties sound great, and Libertas might have a shot at a seat or two perhaps, while SF should do better than last time (particularly in Dublin). But it’s four years to the election, Lisbon will be long forgotten by the time 2012 rolls around and the current party structures seem pretty solid. We’ve briefly touched on abortion, that arguably is even more heartfelt an issue than the EU and yet it caused almost no distortion of the Irish political structures – other than that that pre-existed where parties tended to avoid the issue like a hot potato, bar the honourable exception of Democratic Left which still remains the party with the most liberal approach.

Incidentally, how have I reacted to this vote? I’m not an integrationist – at least not I presume in the sense you mean. I’m not a federalist. I’ve said here that the vote should be respected… I don’t really see how you can neatly categorise my response into some sort of ‘liberal left’ approach.

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57. Pete - June 14, 2008

I would say the main thing that Working Class people voted No about was they are sick and tired of Polish workers coming in here, work for cut price so they can buy an apratment back home – I know I certainly am – this is not racism it is just the facts of a reserve army of Labour – also that Charlatan Bertie now gone there is not even a pretend attempt to connect with the Dublin working classes by the Gombeens. Face up to it immigratin IBEC style ain’t good

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58. Paddy - June 14, 2008

Cedar lounge, you’re a sore loser.

You need to accept that the Irish people do not want a federal European state. The challenge is not to find a way around this result, but to change the course of the EU, away from federalism and back to the common market, and to enhance (not to mention, restpect) local and national participation.

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59. alastair - June 14, 2008

Pete – that no vote sure put paid to Polish workers access to work in this state eh? Well done on using your vote in such a finely honed manner. Big Brother voting should be kicking in soon – don’t forget to use that essential tool in your fight too.

Paddy – If written comprehesion hasn’t let me down, WBS is no more a flag waver for federalism than yourself. Restpect!

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60. alastair - June 14, 2008

Doh!

‘comprehension’.

Foiled by my own petard.

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61. Meyer Lansky - June 14, 2008

Pete, you are a clown. I met nobody, absolutley nobody, who said they were voting no because of immigrants.

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62. Conor McCabe - June 14, 2008

Incredible. Not only did the Dublin Working Class as a bloc vote no to Lisbon, they then got into their White Vans and voted “no” in every county in Ireland, instigating the greatest identity fraud ever witnessed in an Irish election. They even drove as far as Donegal, which witnessed one of the highest “No” votes. Fucking skangers!

You would think that the returning officers would have noticed this marching army of Adam and Pauls, dole-scrounging single mothers, and Ballyfermot bootboys. But there you go.

The same Dublin working class got blamed for FF´s win last year. Bloody typical. You wait years for a class analysis of Irish society, and then two show up.

Going by the definitions of working class as espoused above – basically that working class is a geographical concept (there are working class areas, but not, it seems, working class jobs or occupations) – it seems that Lisbon put paid not only to a more integrated Europe, but also to the mantra by the Right in Ireland of 15 years of Celtic Tiger social mobility.

So, if I get this right from the relevant analysis above, the working class are still with us. They make up at least 53% of the Irish population, they can co-locate themselves, Padre Pio-like, out of their Dublin coccoons and into the rest of Ireland, thus destroying the European ambitions of the ordinary, “daycent” middle classes, and they’re a shower of racist cunts.

God. What a weird couple of days.

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63. Meyer Lansky - June 14, 2008

Re: the Poles buying apartments. I’m sure some are. Some of my friends started businesses on the strength of working as plasterers or brickies in London during the 80s. What most of them want, ie the girls serving you in cafes or pubs, or the women cleaning your office, or the lads getting up at 6am to travel to work, is the same thing most immigrants want, the best for themselves and their families. The undercutting of wages is the fault of the employers and its up to the unions to combat it-hence SIPTU, the TEEU and UNITE have organisers for foreign workers.
I guess your at the heart of the class struggle Pete, so maybe you can tell me how you’ve fought exploitation lately? Immigrant workers who have been organised have often been at the heart of a revival of union strength, which some of the more far seeing officials in the unions here have noted.
Still if I was a reactionary I’d be heartened that their are still people who fall for this divide and rule bullshit.
I canvassed in my union for a NO vote and repeat, nobody said to me there were voting no because of the Poles. Most just didn’t trust the government.

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64. Meyer Lansky - June 14, 2008

By the way, nobody had raised this issue of immigration until that slobbering fuck John Drennan of the Sunday Indo on Matt Cooper yesterday.

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65. alastair - June 14, 2008

Lucinda Creighton brought up the ‘Polish plumber’ issue on Prat Kenny’s radio programme yesterday. She claimed it had been an issue at the doors. Take that for what it’s worth.

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66. Ciarán - June 14, 2008

WbS: As fundamental to me, and also noted elsewhere, is the fact that it’ll be a cold day in Hell before I vote on the same side of the equation as Youth Defence/Coir. And nothing I saw yesterday changed my mind on that. That’s a very personal response, but so what?

So guilt by association for the No side?

Cóir is a minute and largely irrelevant group whose influence was overestimated disproportionately, probably to help fuel the ‘No side are loonies’ line. Add to this that Libertas’ (that ‘shadowy’ organisation) campaign was based more on issues of democracy than of their own economic viewpoint (see for example their 8 Reasons to Vote No), which most leftists would have no problem backing. Then add that all the far-left groups, socialist republican organisations and big trade unions were campaigning for a No vote.

I don’t see voting against any position Cóir takes just because they’ve taken it as a personal decision, but an idiotic one. But so what?

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67. sonofstan - June 14, 2008

So, if I get this right from the relevant analysis above, the working class are still with us. They make up at least 53% of the Irish population

So for the first time in Irish history, it was the working class wot won it…..

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68. Maolsheachalnn O Ceallaigh - June 14, 2008

Nobody brought up the immigration issue because they were SCARED to do so. Because of the all-too-predictable “racist cunts” reaction seen above. I don’t see how having a huge pool of mobile labour could possibly be anything other than a huge gain for the business classes. I live in Ballymun and for the past few years I’ve heard builders on the way to work complaining about how immigrant workers are undercutting them, doing shoddy work, working without qualifications etc. Now you could just assume that’s scapegoating, divide-and-conquer, etc. etc. or you could actually take it seriously and consider the possibility that they know what they’re talking about. Working class people suffer most from immigration, deregulation and privatisation. And that seems to be the agenda of the EU.

WorldbyStorm, thank you for your welcome, and I agree that I didn’t understand the complexities of your own position. But I absolutely believe that “liberal” has to mean “neoliberal”. Read Robert Nozick’s Anarchy, State, Utopia for a good argument to this effect. I don’t see how liberals can put such a premium on freedom in social and cultural matters, and then take a different attitude when it comes to economic matters; what Nozick describes as “capitalist acts between consenting adults”. If its verboten for society to interfere in the individual’s business, except where he’s directly harming other people, how can we possibly object to any contract willingly entered into, such as exploitation wages? How can we justify taxation, which is ultimately confiscation of property, or even– one could argue– forced labour? How is that less paternalistic than censorship?

Besides, liberalism has a tendency to atomize and individualise society, and this is the environment in which the free market flourishes; an environment where the desires of the individual are seen as almost sacrosanct, and social responsibility or cultural conventions are seen as oppressive. I see no contradiction between my social and cultural conservatism and my left-wing economic beliefs. They’re both a form of protectionism; protecting a particular vision of society, rather than allowing market, social, or cultural forces shape society into whatever shape, as long as nobody does anything positively criminal.

Thank you for asking…

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69. Meyer Lansky - June 14, 2008

In my experience shoddy workmanship and massive overcharging are not the preserve of foreign workers. In fact theres so many chancers driving SUVs with ‘Jimmy’s Plumbers’ on the side that will give you a 500 euro estimate for turning on and off a tap its no wonder people will go for the cheaper option. Again there is a labour movement response to this but ain’t interested in that Mr. O Ceallaigh are you? See you next Tuesday…

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70. Conor McCabe - June 14, 2008

Again, a stunning analysis by Maolsheachalnn O Ceallaigh. Last year EVERY candidate who stood on an anti-immigration platform was eliminated from the count, in fact, they didn’t even get their deposits back – and to hold to O Ceallaigh’s geographical analysis of working class, such candidates stood in Dublin central for example – and yet, despite the inability for such issues to raise around 0.75% of the vote in Dublin central, fears around immigration by working class people wiped out Lisbon?

Daft.

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71. Meyer Lansky - June 14, 2008

Yeah, you see when working class people do vote against something like Lisbon the media, utterly middle-class in composition and thought can’t credit them with doing it for progressive reasons. So instead of it being because their worried about a range of issues it has to be because their racists. Hence sludge mouth Drennan in the Sunday INdo tomorrow (thats a prediction). Then a couple of dickheads like O Ceallaigh and Pete chime in with their own prejiduces. Mother Ireland your fucking rearing them yet.

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72. Maolsheachalnn O Ceallaigh - June 14, 2008

That might have something to do with the fact that the Immigration Control Platform wasn’t registered as a party and its candidates therefore were not identified as such on the ballot paper. And the media taboo on this subject would have something to do with it, too.

Anywya, surely the fact that so many people voted No to this referendum when virtually all the TDs they elected were calling for a Yes vote tells you that people’s voting patterns at general elections are complex and can’t be taken as evidence for or against a particular issue?

I think you’re a rude person, Conor.

I’m not interested in a labour response to this because I don’t believe it will bear any fruit. What are the labour unions in this country apart from organisations who hold the public sector to ransom? The Irish Ferries thing was a one-off. You won’t catch the (mostly immigrant) workers at my local supermarket unionising, that’s for sure. I don’t hate immigrants, I agree they’re being exploited. But I don’t believe a labour movement response can be effective in a world where any company can just up sticks and move to China if anyone hints at unionisation. And where the EU’s holy grail of competitiveness positively encourages that.

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73. Maolsheachalnn O Ceallaigh - June 14, 2008

Anyway, I’m clearly on hostile ground here so I don’t think there’s much point bickering. I wanted to make the point that that much of the opposition to the EU comes from a section of Irish society that is both anti-free market and concerned with subjects that don’t occupy the liberal left much, such as national sovereignty and the preservation of our cultural distinctiveness. That section of the Irish left, which would be especially well represented amongst the working classes, is often completely overlooked, because they are unlikely to have blogs or work in the media or academe. I think it made its presence felt in the referendum, though I’m not saying it won it. And now I’ve made that timely point.

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74. Maolsheachalnn O Ceallaigh - June 14, 2008

Why do liberals have to be so rude? I felt no need to engage in name-calling.

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75. Meyer Lansky - June 14, 2008

I’m not a fucking liberal you prick and if you don’t like being served by immigrant workers get a job in a shop yourself. Given time and energy most sectors can be organised, I know for a fact a lot of the cleaners in the colleges were all signed up to SIPTU. Anyway fuck off.

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76. Conor McCabe - June 14, 2008

I can be rude, Maolsheachalnn, it’s true. Sorry about that.

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77. Maolsheachalnn O Ceallaigh - June 14, 2008

Um, that’s the public sector again.

You really are a very pleasant person, aren’t you? The inarticulate and out-argued always descend to name-calling. Anyway, bye to ye all, I’m tired of this abuse.

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78. Maolsheachalnn O Ceallaigh - June 14, 2008

Apology accepted Conor, and I don’t mean to offend anybody myself. Good luck.

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79. Conor McCabe - June 14, 2008

On the immigration point, representatives from immigration control platform were actually on the natioanl airwaves debating immigrating the week of the election. And their names and posters were quite prominent as well. Thing is, nobody agreed with them. Nobody. And now you’re making the argument that it’s because of immigration that working class areas voted no. That is completely wrong, and reveals your own agenda in all of that – to twist everything to your biased anti-immigration view. And i use biased quite consciously here because in the face of all evidence to the contrary, you still insist that immigration played a part in the vote in working class areas. I don’t mean to be rude, but that is completely daft, because not only is there no evidence to support your claim, your claim has no supporters – as last year’s general election showed.

However, there’s the local election next year, so see how you get on there. Take somewhere like Wexford – a working class town – where all you need is 200 votes to get a seat on the council. Surely that’s worth a punt for your anti-immigration mantra, no?

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80. smiffy - June 14, 2008

Maolsheachalnn, a few brief points.

Firstly, with all due respect, you seem to be taking it upon yourself to channel the views of the Irish working class, explaining that it was an anti-immigration gesture. However, you haven’t explained the basis for this assertion, other than to suggest that they were too “scared” to raise the issue (which rather begs the question of how you’re privy to this information if nobody is willing to discuss the subject).

Similarly, if this rather phantasmal working class voted against the Treaty for reasons related to immigration, and immigration has absolutely nothing to do with the Treaty (even the far-right COIR group didn’t push that claim), aren’t you in fact suggestion that the working class, in your view, are pretty stupid?

It’s all irrelevant anyway. As has already been pointed out, not only was there no single reason for the vote, it didn’t break down on class lines anyway, other than in the most broad way. What distinguished this result from that of previous EU referenda was that all classes voted against the Treaty. It can’t in any meaningful way be described as a working class result.

Finally, I would just point out that you are, actually, indulging the name-calling. However, instead of telling people to fuck off, you’re throwing around terms like ‘liberal’ or ‘left liberal’ as insults, without displaying any evidence of much understanding of different political ideologies. Someone who can’t grasp how there can be an overlap between socialism and liberalism might do well to improve their knowledge of both. And while this site has been very heated arguments about what constitutes ‘the left’, someone who shows such disdain for a labour response to the question of worker exploitation can’t, under any definition, be considered to be left-wing.

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81. Maolsheachalnn O Ceallaigh - June 14, 2008

I agree that it’s an enigma that no anti-immigration candidates were voted in, although I do think the factors I mentioned played a part. But how about the Citizenship Referendum, which the Irish left completely opposed (and termed racist) and was overwhelmingly carried? I’m sure that it wasn’t all FF and FG supporters voting for that.

Irish people tend to vote for estabilshed parties and no party dared mention the i-word. People are also (rightly) scared of creating a BNP type party, which they fear a single-issue anti-immigration party might become. Anecdotal evidence is not going to persuade anyone, I admit, but from what I’ve heard this is a big issue amongst ordinary people in areas like Ballymun.

I didn’t even mention immigration, I was merely defending the chap who did. The point I was trying to make was that what I’ve termed (rightly or wrongly) the liberal left seems generally in favour of the EU despite it being obviously a pro-business and free market institution. I think this might indicate that liberalism and social isues, like equality legislation– which I don’t think really helps anybody much, anyway– trumps traditional socialist issues for them.

I suspect that the downturn in the economy will make immigration more of an issue in the next election. I might take your suggestion except I’m afraid I don’t have the stomach for villification that such a move would expose me to…I don’t mind admitting I was literally shaking for fifteen minutes after some of the abuse I’ve taken here.

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82. Garibaldy - June 14, 2008

I’ve noted a few comments about how the Irish people voted. I must have missed the all-Ireland referendum on this. Shower of no good-partitionist bastards the lots of yis.

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83. alastair - June 14, 2008

“I agree that it’s an enigma that no anti-immigration candidates were voted in, although I do think the factors I mentioned played a part. But how about the Citizenship Referendum, which the Irish left completely opposed (and termed racist) and was overwhelmingly carried? I’m sure that it wasn’t all FF and FG supporters voting for that.”

There’s no enigma. Most people are disgusted with the position that Immigration Control candidates (and their ilk) hold. If they didn’t, they might vote for them. Simple as that.

Oh, and I’d be happy enough to take on the liberal tag. I’m fondest of dull scando-socialist / social democratic ideology, and hold wildly liberal views on most social issues. I also voted Yes in the Citizenship referendum – and not for any reason you’d associate with the anti-immigration gang. So you’ll have to find a better proxy for your unpopular beliefs.The two issues have precious little to do with each other.

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84. Conor McCabe - June 14, 2008

More apologies. sorry about that Garibaldy. It’s something I try to keep an eye on myself in my own comments, but I have to admit to using the erroneous shorthand of “Irish” for the Republic.

Maolsheachalnn, if it’s any comfort, it’s just gone 11.30pm on a Saturday night and the closest thing to a social life that we lefties have is leaving comments on this site. Not only that, it’s all blokes as well. As it is I’m only one pair of slippers away from walking around Trinity College with a Guiney’s plastic bag under my arm stuffed full of yellowing Guardians screaming about socialism. If you’re shaking it should be with laughter, or pity, or both.

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85. Conor McCabe - June 14, 2008

“sando-socialist”

Great phrase! Never heard it before. My new moniker.

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86. alastair - June 14, 2008

uhm – I’d meant ‘scando-socialist’.

I hate those ‘sando-socialists’ over in Shelbyville.

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87. Conor McCabe - June 15, 2008

🙂 Fucking brilliant.

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88. BD - June 15, 2008

Maolsheachalnn, The citizenship referendum got held on the same day as Euro and local elections. It was backed with serious money (about 250,000) by FF and to a lesser extent by PDs. It also was quietly supported on the doorsteps by FG. Most of the left parties Labour, Sinn Fein and Socialist Party were strained by lack of resources(diverted to electoral campaigns) and offered only paltry support to the no side. In the pressure of two other campaigns the issue didn’t get as much coverage as this referendum got on the media. Thus it was a referendum marred by misinformation. Unfortunately in the last week of polling this was completely out of control but with little opportunity to challenge them (media time focussed on elections) most went unchallenged and there was a landslide yes vote. In exit polls, voters were asked why they voted yes and given 4 options (2 of which could be construed as racist) over 50 % plumped for those that could be construed as racist. Yet on the same day both independents and others who ran on anti immigration tickets in the locals performed miserably.

I actually agree with you that there may have been some in the NO vote who voted for anti immigrant reasons, but for each one of those there was dozens more who voted for other reasons.

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89. sonofstan - June 15, 2008

I thought about posting this – or something like it – before in connection with another topic and held off; so, deep breath: I don’t think Maolsheachainn is entirely wrong about popular sentiment concerning immigration.

I live a weird split working life, especially during the summer when all the term time academic odds and ends run out and I end up doing what’s effectively unskilled manual labour or supervising same. i work with people, many of whom I’ve known for years, who would mostly fit even the narrowest delineation of the working class and I have to say, among intelligent and normally quite liberal blokes (mostly) I’ve seen and heard a hardening of attitudes to immigrants and a more generally pervasive use of racist epithets and so on. It centres around the loss of jobs to people willing to work for less, to hospital beds being occupied by ‘asylum seekers’ and, most often, their kids education suffering because primary schools classes are stuffed with children with little English.

As I said, I’m not talking about proto- fascist meatheads here; I would guess, of the older cadre among the people I’m talking about, SF would be the party of choice. And of course, people don’t talk to politicians about this or to pollsters, any more than people in the North ever admitted to sectarian feelings; they’ve been lectured enough to know what you can’t say outside private circles.

This is anecdotal, of course, but its a wide enough sample, and, as my ears have become attuned to it, I’m hearing it more and more elsewhere too. Simply denying it’s there is one sure way of fostering it. Don’t forget, it’s people in working class areas that have had to adjust to living side by side with newcomers and being told that being annoyed by the greater pressure on employment, health and education, where the same parsimoniously funded facilities have to be shared with more and more people, is ‘racist’.

I still think we’re a long way from people voting to the current numbskull immigrant control candidates, but if a plausible, electable looking version of the same emerged – a Declan Ganley type as an Irish Pim Fontyn(sp?)?-I’d worry.

That said, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a huge explicit factor in the referendum, but its definitely bubbling away beneath the surface.

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90. Wednesday - June 15, 2008

On the immigration thing, I canvassed in some of the most working class areas in the North Inner City and precisely one person mentioned immigration to me. That’s not to say it wasn’t a lingering concern. But there were a lot of other concerns and the treaty would have been defeated irrespective of it.

WBS, I have to say I agree with Ciarán about the daftness of voting Yes just because YD (or anyone else) is voting no. That quite simply makes no sense whatsoever, and I’m pretty sure that my personal reasons for loathing YD are at least as significant as yours. Besides which, there are plenty of equally vile sorts on the Yes side (Lucinda Creighton, whose views aren’t a million miles away from YD’s, for starters).

As for how do you reconcile the fact that YD, SF and Libertas were on the same side in the campaign, well how do you reconcile the fact that Labour and ICTU were on the same side as the PDs and IBEC? It’s been an irritant to me throughout the campaign that the wide variety of pro-Treaty groups was portrayed as proof that the Treaty was self-evidently a good thing, while the wide variety of anti-Treaty groups was portrayed as showing the illogic of opposition.

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91. Conor McCabe - June 15, 2008

sonofstan, what gets me about immigration debates in Ireland – such as they are – is the quite explicit assumption that racism and anti-immigrant sentiment are class issues, and exclusive to Irish working class consciousness. It’s been used a lot over the past three days, in the national media, by politicians, and by some commentators here. It’s gives the assumption that middle management and above in places such as companies, factories, building sites, shops, the civil service, and gardai offices for example, are exempt from this – that the ABC1s (to use the Irish Times´template for class in Ireland) are above such base reactions, but the C2DEs are not. And last week Steve Collins writing in the Irish Times actually stated that the working classes are the C2DEs (which is wrong anyway, ABC1 and C2DE are based on consumption patterns, not division of labour) and that they were against Lisbon. (ahh, Steve Collins, the Steven Segal of crap analysis.)

Racism is not discussed in Ireland, but then again, neither is class. Where are the studies of racism within the Gardai, or the civil service, or company management, or among doctors, lawyers and judges? Where are the studies of how the Irish working class sees itself? Where are the studies of the constituent elements of Irish working class consciousness? The paucity of analysis around each leads those with other agendas to slot them in where they want, and it is this practice that I oppose.

Having said that, going by what has happened in other countries, the economic downturn will affect relations between immigrant families and working class families as both will be chasing fewer jobs. At the same time, the last census showed that the breakdown of immigrants in the Irish workforce was spread somewhat uniform across the spectrum of non-skill to middle management employment, which means that graduates will be in competition with immigrant graduates for fewer graduate-type jobs. So, you will probably see a reaction among middle management to jobs being held by immigrants as well. However, I doubt if we’ll get the analysis that there is resentment to such among the Irish Times’ ABC1s – the media and politicians will simply pass the feeling onto the Irish working class, blame them (and Sinn Féin) but still get national legislation passed to “tackle” the “problem” of immigration – just to appease those bloody working class anti-immigrant voters.

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92. Conor McCabe - June 15, 2008

I’ve just re-read my last comment and it comes across as quite confrontational. (Not for the first time, I’m afraid to say.) This is not my intention – however, it does seem to be my style. So apologies in advance.

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93. WorldbyStorm - June 15, 2008

Ciarán and Wednesday, if the Coir issue was the only one in my mind perhaps your analyses would be fair, but it was one amongst the nature of the promotion of the No campaign, some of those involved, the issue itself, etc, etc. I’d somewhat disagree Ciarán about their influence, their poster campaign was the cause of comment from people whose interest/knowledge of political activity would be minimal and assisted in propogating various concepts.

I’d tend to agree sonofstan. There is a sentiment which has broadened out about such things… not sure how to clearly counteract it.

BD, good comment… and Garibaldy, good comment.

Meanwhile, glad to see the old CLR self-limiting as regards argument has kicked in 🙂 Maolsheachalnn, there are many different viewpoints here, and considerable disagreement between them, if you engage people will engage back, but generally you’ll find it reasonably straightforward… I think part of the problem is that it’s difficult to clearly understand your definitions… or rather they seem too vague to be of much application in this discussion.

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94. Kieran - June 15, 2008

Best analysis of the referendum and its implications that I have so far come across – well done.

One point – in the comments above, a few commentators are claiming that the referendum vote did not show huge signs of a class divide:
“Let’s be honest – the no vote was just as much a middle class vote as a working class one – the national breakdown was much of a muchness” (taken slightly out of context from comment 49), while quite a few others argue the opposite.

Dublin South East, Dun Laoighaire Rathdown, and Dublin South would seem to be evidence against this. In Nice 1, DSE followed the national trend and voted no. On Thursday it gave an overwhelming “yes”.

But you could argue that these are not middle class, but upper-class D4, liberal, Irish Times areas. What is most interesting is the huge divergence within the constituencies. Having seen the Tallies, I was stunned by the class divisions. I thought that a box would verge about 10 or 15% from the average depending on the area. It actually swung 95% – there were boxes that were 95-5 yes and boxes 90-10 no. While this isn’t the place to give the full analysis of the Tally, class was a determining factor. The national breakdown was much of a muchness, but the street-level breakdown was frightening.

Why do I bother to point this out? Because it shows that despite spending 1.5 million or so, Libertas failed completely to win over their target market (The last Irish Times poll showed this too). Sinn Fein got huge traction within communities through this campaign, but Libertas did not.

More importantly, it shows how badly the EU has failed to connect with a section of society. Democracy is not just about votes and elections and representation – it is also about discourse and imagined community etc, and the EU and the “working class” are completely failing to engage with each other on that level.

Finally, more worryingly, and most contentiously, I believe that there was a strong anti-immigrant vote at play. Irish Taxi-drivers’ endorsement of a no vote is symptomatic of this. This is dangerous, and is only going to get worse as the economy tanks over the next 2 years. And I don’t know if is better to just not talk about it, or to address it head on but thereby give a platform to the xenophobes and racists.

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95. sonofstan - June 15, 2008

Conor,
Not confrontational at all; I agree about the class thing completely – I wrote that comment at 2am, which is never a good time, and i meant to extend it to point out that the bien pensant middle-classes were just as likely to resent newcomers – they just have more ways of insulating themselves and ‘buying out’ of having to directly compete.

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96. sonofstan - June 15, 2008

….and yes; the blame will be pushed onto the working-class- the IT/RTE story will be something like ‘well of course we’re fine with multi-culturalism, but we need to protect immigrants from the skangers’

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97. WorldbyStorm - June 15, 2008

Kieran that’s a very interesting analysis. I’m also leery about Libertas’ (anyone care to tell me is that the right position for the apostrophe?) ability to convert this into political capital. What Dáil seat could Ganley persuasively win in the RoI? I’m hard pushed to think of any. Whereas I think SF are placed reasonably well to capture a couple more seats say from FF in Dublin in particular, and perhaps with luck going that way Donegal. I think your point about immigration ties into sonofstans, although I’d tend more to sonofstans sense that it was submerged, not explicit.

Garibaldy, that’s a very fair point.

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98. Garibaldy - June 15, 2008

WBS,

That is indeed the right place for the apostrophe.

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99. WorldbyStorm - June 15, 2008

Much appreciated a chara… they always get me…

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100. Wednesday - June 15, 2008

Well, it’s a better place than Liberta’s, but Libertas’s would actually be technically correct. Possessives are supposed to end with s’ only if the signifies a plural. That rule is rarely followed, though. (Grammar anorak mode off)

One point about Kieran’s analysis. While it’s true that in the particularly posh areas the vote was overwhelmingly in favour, it was a lot more even than we’d expected in the more middle class areas of Dublin Central – and I’ve heard similar from comrades in DSW.

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101. Wednesday - June 15, 2008

… only if the s at the end of the possessive signifies a plural. Could have sworn I said that….

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102. Kieran - June 15, 2008

WBS, you are right. I posted after reading only the first half of the comments, since my main aim was just to mention the class issue. I hadn’t read the second half, so hadn’t realised that immigration was already being widely discussed as a possible factor. My comment obviously doesn’t explore the immigration issue in as much detail as some of the others here, but it is interesting that as someone who would in general terms be pro-immigration, (and pro-multi-culturalism, anti-the government’s failures on asylum and refugee law), I believe that immigration was a huge but submerged issue. And others are right that to portray it as solely a class issue is way too simplistic.

In middle class areas it was usually couched in terms of Turkey’s accession to the EU (tying into fears over values and identity), while in working class areas it was often couched in an economic/anti-government voice. Again, you have to ask why taxi-drivers were willing to display anti-Lisbon stickers, and how it is tied up with the two inter-related strands of the Irish taxi-drivers constant complaint. They are complaining against the failure of the regulator to cap the number of plates, which is leading to an influx of non-irish drivers and causing economic hardship, and it is not clear where the line falls between the economic issues and the anti-foreigner sentiment/emotion/feeling.

I suppose we will find out in a few months time as unemployed Irish former construction workers are served by non-Irish workers in Spar. I am very very worried, personally.

And to give Sinn Fein their due, (which it pains me to do), this is something they have steadfastly refused to capitalise on.

I am not going to go fully into the “liberals protecting immigrants from the skangers” debate, but I would recommend this article on the issue, since it has links to a few good studies, from a US perspective, on the relationship between immigration and class, and could be indicative of what will happen when the recession actually starts to have effect.
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/09/magazine/09IMM.html

On Libertas, I presume the intention is to run a few candidates in the Euro elections next year. Those are the only elections whereby you can get elected on an anti-EU (whether disguised as a pro-EU-as-it-currently-is or not) platform. If Kathy Sinnott and Dana can do it, Libertas can do it.

They haven’t a hope in a general election. No doubt they think they are going to move into the space left by the PDs, but they haven’t got the personalities, they haven’t got the policies, they haven’t got the people, and they haven’t got the grassroots organisation. They could do a UKIP on the Euparl elections, which is easily done, and they would be successful (with their money they should easily elect 1 or 2 candidates) but that will not transform into local or national election success. Why not? Because their success depends on negative, anti-everything campaigning, which can work in referenda and Euparl, but won’t work without local support (eg Finian McGrath) in general elections.

This could have been their opportunity to create a core message and image. Their huge mistake was that they went for a scatter-gun approach, attacking everything, and refusing to stand for anything. It got them loads of media, but it means everyone knows what they are against and nobody knows what they are for.

And I do believe that the tally figures show that they didn’t connect with the PD electorate at all. But maybe I am wrong. The “yes” in middle class boxes was not as resounding as the “no” in working class ones. I presumed that that was due to the same factor that saw the Greens rely completely on the upper-middle-class vote in the last general election, and not to Libertas, but I could be wrong.

Which brings me to my final point. Amongst a certain set in Dublin, everyone was voting no. That was the very “liberal”, well-off design/art/media/gay cliques that would vote predominantly Green.The trendiest of the trendies were all voting no. And I think if they could have seen the triumphalism in the eyes of the NicMathuna daughter and her crazed foot soldiers in Dublin Castle, I believe that they would have had a serious case of buyer’s remorse.

Originally i was going to comment about one irony, which was that what defeated the Lisbon Treaty was the very fault that it was aiming to try to fix. But I have led myself to another irony, which is that Coir are claiming a mandate thanks in part to the very people they would be first into the re-education camps if Coir were ever really given a mandate.

Which leads to the very very (!) final point, which everyone would agree on, even the very uncomfortable bed-fellows of the yes camp: referenda are a great way of finding out what people don’t want, a good way of finding out where people stand on a yes/no issue, and a terrible way of figuring out what people do want.

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103. Pete - June 15, 2008

Some of the above posts have once again opened my eyes to the myopic world of the right on Left. Immigration is an issue because it creates the conditions for the undermining of workers rights – the people who were supporting this treaty seemed largely unmoved when Jack O’Connor clearly pointed out that business were getting their side of it but workers were not getting theirs. I don’t take kindly to people who wish to bracket people as racists due to them pointing to the elephant in the room. I don’t feel any need to defend my position on racism – I’ve combated it effectively enough in my own way on a number of occasions and find it just sickening that rather than address the issue some people would rather just say not there and give some spiel about how great Polish workers are, without mentioning directly but clearly indicating compared to their Irish counterparts – if you were saving to set up ‘business’ and buy a house back home rather than just keeping your head above water in your own home town you might be a little bit more into getting up at the crack of dawn for a few years. Anyway I have no interest in celebrating the entrepreneurial ‘lust’ of any sector of society so forget about that. On the issue of why some people may not hear the real issues which are common currency for others – people may be to polite or know that to brooch the immigration issue with a member of the right on Left will just get themselves a shower of platitudes and shite. Immigration, the use of a the classic Marxian ‘reserve army of Labour’ is a growing problem in Ireland, if the Left will not face up to this they will be the ones responsible for seceding debate to the fascists of Coir or other groups – of course some of the right on Left would rather see such a situation than have to dirty their minds with the real concerns of working people in a contracting economy which has open borders dictated to business interests. On the issue of unionisation – migrant workers should nt only be encouraged to unionise but if they are unable the unions must confront management until they can and if they are then unwilling they should get out – a scab of any nationality or skin colour in my opinion deserves the same treatment and it ain’t nice.

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104. Conor McCabe - June 15, 2008

what I find absolutely galling in this society of ours is the rush by media commentators and some politicians to provide a class analysis of the Lisbon vote, but yet there’s to be no class analysis of the economy, of occupations, of culture, of education, of health, of the media, of the judiciary, of the executive, or the legislature itself. Ireland’s a classless society until it comes to Lisbon. What pricks. And now we have this discussion about racism and Lisbon where the evidence presented so far is an overheard conversation in Ballymun and a fucking sticker on a taxi cab.

The government fucked up on this one. It’s that simple. They didn’t give the electorate enough of a reason to vote yes. And God knows they had the chance. Back on 17 May the Irish Times poll showed 35% voting yes, 18% voting no, and a massive 47% UNDECIDED. One week later, the Sunday Business Post had 41% yes, 33% no, and 26% undecided.

We had that idiot Brian Cowen getting his retaliation in first by attacking the opposition for their yes campaign. Charlie McCreevey saying no sane person would ever read Lisbon, and a government campaign that actually set up the debate as a “trust us” mandate – just days before Bertie Ahern walked into the tribunal and with a sheer contempt for the people of this country told us that he won his money on the fucking horses – the very same man that Cowen stood by shoulder to shoulder, along with the rest of his cabinet colleagues, – and their strategy was “trust us”?

But, hey, don’t worry about the polls, the figures that show the undecideds dropping and falling into the no camp as this ridiculous campaign rumbled on, that show that the yes side had a clear majority less than four weeks ago, and managed to completely fuck it up. Let’s instead go for a class analysis of the Lisbon vote, but let’s go for a special kind of class analysis, one that sees working class consciousness purely in terms of racism, and one that sees class in Ireland the same way as a hurricane: something that appears only to wreck havoc.

But hey, fuckit, let’s ignore the bleedin’ obvious that the yes campaign failed to sell this to the Irish people, mainly because they simply didn’t realise that they HAD to sell it – and instead let’s kill some chickens and read the entrails.

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105. Conor McCabe - June 15, 2008

ok. This immigration and Lisbon link is turning into trolling. We’ve had a straw man set up here – because guess what, nobody has presented any fucking evidence for it, just guff about overheard conversations and general feelings. and now we’re talking about it as if it’s an ACTUAL factor in the Lisbon result? A national trend of 52-56% explained by a conversation in Ballymun and a taxi sticker.

A national trend, ladies and gentlemen, one that requires a national analysis.

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106. Pete - June 15, 2008

And on the issue of Poles – the thing that also worries me is that a large amount of even young poles seem to have a strong attachment to the Catholic Church – the last fucking thing this country needs is any revitalisation of that purified shelter of peados – if immigration is undermiing the development of the Left then it is not something that I welcome – pro-immigration is the Liberal agenda – the Berlin Wall was not build in order to aid the movement of workers if my memory serves me correctly. The Left agenda should be rights and work for all in their homes. If your a refugee then of course that is different however if your here to make a quick buck and undermine an already weak Irish Left get to fuck – i.e. migrant Lbaour should be encouraged to unionise like the Gama workers or see ya after – we already have a scab culture in this country and if Lisbon was not to give collective bargaining it was No from me.

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107. Conor McCabe - June 15, 2008

Pete, you are a troll.

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108. Garibaldy - June 15, 2008

On the s’ thing. We were also taught never to use s’s. Under any circumstances. So who knows?

Conor is totally right at the gap between the reporting of this as a class issue at the same time as we are told that class is dead/has never existed/will never exist etc.

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109. soubresauts - June 15, 2008

We had that idiot Brian Cowen getting his retaliation in first by attacking the opposition for their yes campaign. Charlie McCreevey saying no sane person would ever read Lisbon, and a government campaign that actually set up the debate as a “trust us” mandate – just days before Bertie Ahern walked into the tribunal and with a sheer contempt for the people of this country told us that he won his money on the fucking horses – the very same man that Cowen stood by shoulder to shoulder, along with the rest of his cabinet colleagues, – and their strategy was “trust us”?

Spot on, Conor. Anyone venturing into the blame game must deal with those facts first.

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110. Stan - June 15, 2008

I would just like to add to the discussion the fact, that actually referendums are not actually the best manifestation of people deciding about the subject, because a lot of times (as now in Ireland) people were not deciding about the actual matter/subject that was put on the referendum, but about all sorts of things that were brought out by populists and that have little to do with the actual subject. (I am not from Ireland, so sorry for my bad english.)

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111. Meyer Lansky - June 15, 2008

Were you involved in the No campaign Pete? If so did you encounter widespread worry about immigrants (or specifically Poles in your case, as you seem to have a desperate fixation on them)? Because in my trade union, in an industry with substantial foreign workers, I canvassed for a NO vote, and nobody said I agree with you cos we have to keep the Poles out. No doubt there are people who think that. I don’t agree with them but in your case I suspect you have a general dislike of the Poles and have grafted some pseudo-leftist jargon onto it ‘reserve army of labour’ etc. Listen mate, if the Poles fucked off tomorrow there would still be Irish people who would work for fuck-all in Burger King, and its is Irish people who refuse to join unions in Dell and Intel. The reserve army of labour will be there as long as capitalism is, ie a long time. And funnily enough immigrants tend to cling to things that remind them of home, like the church. I couldn’t give a shite if they worship goats, or walk around with loafs of bread on their head. I don’t believe the Poles are any more wonderful than any other nationality but I have yet to see them driving SUVs and charging 500 euro for a basic look at the wiring of your house, which plenty of self-employed Irish people do.

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112. I know when I’m wrong « The gaping silence - June 16, 2008

[…] similar vein, my former comrade John Palmer comments at CLR: The best way forward would be for the other 26 Member States to complete ratification (18 already […]

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113. Ciarán - June 16, 2008

Garibaldy: I’ve noted a few comments about how the Irish people voted. I must have missed the all-Ireland referendum on this. Shower of no good-partitionist bastards the lots of yis.

Fear not comrade, the Treaty was not completely ignored by those of us living in that part of Ireland that’s still a British colony. See this piece on Slugger for example.

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114. Ciarán - June 16, 2008

WbS #38: “As fundamental to me, and also noted elsewhere, is the fact that it’ll be a cold day in Hell before I vote on the same side of the equation as Youth Defence/Coir. And nothing I saw yesterday changed my mind on that. That’s a very personal response, but so what?

WbS #93: “Ciarán and Wednesday, if the Coir issue was the only one in my mind perhaps your analyses would be fair, but it was one amongst the nature of the promotion of the No campaign, some of those involved, the issue itself, etc, etc.

You going to make up your mind any time soon?

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115. Wednesday - June 16, 2008

We were also taught never to use s’s. Under any circumstances.

That’s appalling.

Wiki’s opinion is here FWIW.

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116. WorldbyStorm - June 16, 2008

Ciarán, the crucial word in the sentence you quote is the one it starts with ‘As’ – suggesting the plural, not the singular. Note too the caveat that it was ‘a very personal response’. In that context there is no contradiction with Number 93.

This s’s thing is interesting. ejh once pointed me in largely the right direction. It’s funny, it’s a real blind spot I have. Well, that and using a comma in a sentence to break it up into more easily digestible portions, and the use of rubbish slang, and…

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117. Garibaldy - June 16, 2008

Cheers Wed. I’ve also seen an alternative explanation for the origins of the ‘s for the genitive, namely that you used to say things like World By Storm his opinions on the Lisbon Treaty are wrong. As opposed to World by Storm’s opinions on the Lisbon Treaty are wrong. Hard to know.

Ciarán, cheers for the link. I think it was great that such a meeting was held in the north, but it is funny to see people talk about national sovereignty for Ireland and never for a second think about whether that applies to the whole island or not.

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118. FutureTaoiseach - June 16, 2008

John Waters’ views on immigration from the new EU states is not shared by most of the people. While not wishing to tar everyone with the one brush, it is generally felt that the immigration has made the health-service crisis worse through overcrowding, as well as contributing to bottlenecks in out school system. Regarding Jo Leinen, he is just scaremongering in suggesting we might have to leave the EU. Such talk borders on coercion. The French and Dutch were not forced out of the EU when they voted no, and neither will we. Read the Times in the UK and you’ll see that privately, Gordon Brown is ready to sacrifice this Treaty rather than create a 2-tier Europe with Ireland left behind. Likewise the Czech President Vaclav Klaus has labelled the Treaty “dead”, while the President of the Senate agrees. The Senate has referred the Treaty to the Supreme Court to test its constitutionality, and this may force a referendum on it. Even if it doesn’t, the Czech President has a veto and I would hope he will use it or call a referendum on this Treaty. The other EU leaders know that privately, had this been put to their peoples, it would have been rejected, and that will probably temper their resentments towards Ireland.

The EU should be a club based on consent and cooperation – not coercion. Members of the GAA who voted against changing Rule 21 were not forced to leave. If the EU does not want to be a dictatorship and really does rest of democratic foundations as the preamble to Lisbon claims, then let them accept our decision and stop bullying us. Right know their hectoring tone towards Ireland and insistence on the continuation of the ratification process only reinforces a growing sense among the European public that Brussels is remote and indifferent to public opinion.

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119. alastair - June 16, 2008

FT,

Maybe you’d answer the following:

You state you want a fulltime commissioner as part of a re-negotiated treaty. Given that we voted for a reduction in commison number already – in a referendum – which state do you propose loses their commisioner to make way for out fulltime one, or do you simply ignore the democratic decision of the people?

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120. Joe - June 16, 2008

Hey all. Only coming back to this now after a nice weekend. Went to Neil Diamond in Croker. 20 euros for fish, chips and mushy peas. I’m told it was all sushi and other posh stuff at Leonard Cohen. So the no’s went to Croker (including Bertie who got a great cheer when he was flashed up on the big screen) and a great crowd of yes’s gathered in Kilmainham.
In Comment 5, WBS asks: “Joe, given that what do you think the outcome of all this will be?”
My cynical answer is it will be Nice 2 all over again. They’ll give us some sop that allegedly clarifies the Lisbon Treaty for us and ask us to vote again. Cowen’s job will be on the line if it’s defeated the second time but my guess is it will be carried.
On the class thing: Jim Monaghan (I think) mentioned this on another thread. It seems to me that people are using iffy definitions i.e. working class = people living in local authority estates, middle class= people living in semis that they have mortgages out on. I fall into the latter category but I still claim to be working class. Is this reverse snobbery as my nearest and dearest often teases?
Finally, at last a discussion on the apostrophe. Garibaldi, do WP members still have a membership card that you have to put little red sticky dots in for each weeks subs you pay? In my day they did. And on the little red dot, were the words The Worker’s Party. My immediate reaction was “We are the party of the worker, now if only we could find out which worker exactly.” I brought it up informally in conversation with a couple of comrades but it was lost on them, I think because they thought they had more important things to worry about. (Finally finally, one of those important things clearly should have been summary expulsion of WBS who has revealed now that he voted for the Single European Act when party policy clearly was to vote and campaign against and I never remember him once querying that policy at branch level. Your double dealing exposed in the end, WBS, how can we ever trust you again?!!)

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121. Garibaldy - June 16, 2008

The cards, and even some of the stickers, are indeed still about. But there are other ones which if memory serves are spelt right. In a fetching pale blue. Same problem with the original Irish translation as well I seem to remember, which was I think the fault of your woman who was ard-runaí and whose name I can’t remember. Still hard to beat the poster produced by a certain literary genius from the north – workers untie!

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122. WorldbyStorm - June 16, 2008

Garibadly, re post Number 117, time will tell, time will tell… 😉

Ah, Joe and G, believe it or not I still have my party card, a treasured possession…

Shocking behaviour on my part re SEA… but, secret vote, etc, etc… why upset people… do the job as asked and keep on keepin on…

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123. Garibaldy - June 16, 2008

As long as you didn’t tell anybody you were voting against, I guess you could say you nearly obeyed party discipline and democratic centralism. So just a short trip on the trans-Siberian railway instead of the full package holiday.

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124. WorldbyStorm - June 16, 2008

Frrrrosty!

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125. Pete - June 17, 2008

Is the Euro barometer lying? Are the people lying? Are the media lying? Or is mass mismanaged immigration an issue for people or not? They Left can bury its head in the sand about this as I’m sure enough Fianna Gombeen will soon enough do a whole U-turn on the immigration issue (see there untied Irelander spiel which has gone the same way) and start looking for votes on the strength that they aren’t comfortable with it.

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126. WorldbyStorm - June 17, 2008

It may well be an issue for some, but Lisbon had nothing to do with it one way or another in the sense that it could be addressed. I think we really need to see the Eurobarometer poll details before coming to any conclusions.

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127. Dunne and Crescendo - June 17, 2008

Pete may be correct. But it would need a bit more evidence than his personal euro barometer. Are the media lying? Well, very possibly, yes. I have spoken to several NO canvassers and they have denied hearing any complaints about immigration on the doors. Wednesday confirms this above. The journalists who have floated this idea that immigration was a big factor include Noel Whelan and Shane Coleman, pro-Yes side hacks, who would not like that anyone on the NO side had progressive credentials. Are people concerned about immigration? Some are. Was it a major factor in the No vote? I would suggest the evidence, so far, says no.

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128. WorldbyStorm - June 17, 2008

I’d tend to agree D&C. Perhaps the influence was more a sort of ‘background noise’ that added to the discontent with the government, and other issues…

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129. Ed Hayes - June 18, 2008

Pete also underestimates the extent to which Polish immigration has stopped. Anyone I know working in construction will tell you that large number of Poles have gone home since the downturn. So they are not staying to work for less than the Irish. The exception is the service trade, shops, cafes etc where they are very visable and also not competing to any large extent with Irish people for jobs; they are competing with other immigrants.

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130. Joe - June 18, 2008

Imprtant correction to post 120. It was only 10 euros for fish, chips and mushy peas. How much for a portion of sushi anyone? What’s the posh word for portion re sushi?

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131. Tomaltach - June 18, 2008

I’m with D&C and WbS on the immigration issue. I think there is a genuine sense of unease at the pace of change in this country. True, much of it is a consequence of global forces above and beyond the EU. Or winds blowing within the Union which are not linked to any particular facet of the EU itself. Yet is is undeniable that the speed at which the Union has changed over the last 15 years or so has contributed significantly to enormous changes here. The Union deepened (monetary Union, social chapter, etc) and enlarged rapidly. While xenophobia was not a factor in the referendum, I think the recent dramatic rise in the percentage of immigrants here is one of the most visible changes of transformation. At a time when everything seems to be getting increasingly volatile and unpredictable, perhaps many voters associated the Union with an agent of change that is simply to rapid. As a consequence, slogans from the No camp resonated more profoundly than before.

While the Yes campaign was slow, inept, and half hearted, and the No camp effective, something else lurks behind the dramatic jump in No voters between Nice I, or II, and Lisbon. And of course that’s precisely the crux of what needs to be understood. In fact, understanding what lies behind this very significant swing in attitude is going to be central to deciding how Ireland can help resolve the questions about what to do next.

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132. WorldbyStorm - June 18, 2008

Very true. Pace of change is I’d think part of the issue. Or rather it provides a handy hook. Add to that a weakened party political system, the subsidence of the North as a bone of contention and so on and it becomes a perfect storm.

Joe, a sushette?

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133. Tomaltach - June 18, 2008

Wbs,
By weakened party political system, do you mean that the parties don’t have fired up members like they used to? Or do you mean that ordinary people just find them irrelevant?

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134. Tomaltach - June 18, 2008

Question to all, even if it is true that the French and Dutch No votes contained large chunks of protest unrelated to the EU, it is undeniable that there was also a stong compoment of disillusionment with the EU or at least a disconnection with the EU in those votes.

To what extent would you agree with that?
And to what extent was that a factor in Ireland?

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135. sonofstan - June 18, 2008

This might be mad, but I have a sense that throughout the EU, something analogous to the distrust US voters have of ‘Washington’ is developing, and national politicians – and parties – who become too used to Brussels are punished; the difficulty here is, weirdly, that, instead of a clear distinction between federal representatives and state politicians, it is our state politicians who are seen as corrupted by Brussels and out of touch, whereas the people we send to the Euro. Parliament are quite often ‘tribunes of the people’ single issue independents or anti- EU protest candidates (UKIP etc – not necessarily here).

In this, if in nothing else, a United States of Europe might already have some psychological reality…….. in that a Europe wide distrust of ‘Europe’ becomes the glue that binds. So who will make up the confederacy when the conflict between state rights and federal authority kicks off properly?

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136. WorldbyStorm - June 18, 2008

Tomaltach, I’m thinking in particular of the post-Ahern issue of trust.

Re the EU, I don’t think there is a huge disillusionment or huge happiness or indeed particular interest one way or the other with the EU. It’s not a topic which exercises more than a small group of people on either side. I think it is possible that sovereignty has become of greater importance, and yet… we don’t see it exercised in relation to the North. To my mind there’s an element of ‘give it a lash and see what happens’ to all this. And a completely rubbish Yes campaign which was moribund, and the Ahern issue, an electorate waiting in the long grass to do something anything post May 2007. I’d love to think that the euro-sceptic British press were influential, and maybe they were a little, but even that doesn’t seem to answer it. Or maybe it was a combination of low level anti-EU feeling, specific worries about various issues, abortion, neutrality/militarisation, tax, slowing economy, antagonism to the government, etc, etc. Or let’s put it another way, I can’t see a unifying element to the vote on an ideological level which seems to suggest that specific ideology wasn’t the issue and that a number of disparate threads came together… I should add in one other element… Nice II. A perception that that was a referendum too far?

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137. WorldbyStorm - June 18, 2008

sonofstan, that’s a very persuasive analysis.

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138. alastair - June 18, 2008

“I can’t see a unifying element to the vote on an ideological level which seems to suggest that specific ideology wasn’t the issue and that a number of disparate threads came together”

Ehh – Jim Corr?
Ticks all the boxes above, and some you won’t have thought of.

Vincent Browne on TV3 last night (I know, I know!) seemed to reckon that there’s no possibility of a 26 state arrangement at all and it’s all a lot of hot air about very little. I’m beginning to think that the horsetrading over an agreed 26 state deal might require effectively the same workload as a modified 27 state Lisbon II that keeps the sane No vote happy. I’m betting they opt to forgo the quick but tricky 26 state deal for the slow but tricky 27 state option.

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139. WorldbyStorm - June 18, 2008

That makes a fair bit of sense. And if the objective is near identical, but can incorporate the RoI, then why not go the whole distance..?

These ones we haven’t thought of… tell us more… 🙂

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140. alastair - June 18, 2008

The sinister Amero currency plot – definitely needs to be a red line issue for a re-negotiated treaty.

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141. WorldbyStorm - June 18, 2008

Don’t diss the Amero. It’s great… But then as a paid up member of the Illuminati I would say that…

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142. Tomaltach - June 19, 2008

sonofstan – yes, good point, I certainly think that since Europe became more politically integrated that a ‘Washington’ syndrome began to set it.

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143. Wednesday - September 25, 2008

Given the assertion above that “No” stickers on taxi cabs show that Lisbon was defeated by racists, I was amused yesterday to see a taxi with “Obama ’08” on its bumper.

And no, the driver wasn’t black 😉

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144. WorldbyStorm - September 25, 2008

Wow, next time get a photo, that’d be good to have a record of 🙂

I’ve met the odd progressive driver (I can only judge when s/he talks unprompted and knows something about an issue). Not as often as I’d like I have to say.

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145. Getting Away » Blog Archive » Plan Your Holiday - Things to Do In Luxembourg - February 12, 2009

[…] Lisbon lost, this Plan C we’ve heard nothing about… tell me more … […]

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