08 June 2008

No, No, No. You don't love me (as I know now)

With only a few days to go until the Referendum, I read with interest the latest poll in the Sunday Business Post that has support for the Lisbon Treaty at 42 per cent, up one point since their last poll two weeks ago ago, but more importantly the No vote is now at 39 per cent, an increase of 6 points. This is a noticeable change since the midweek TNS/MRBI poll that had the Yes campaign ahead by 5 points. Its also worth recalling that this midweek poll showed a 17% rise for the No campaign since their last TNS/MRBI poll three weeks ago. Basically the closer we get to the vote, and the more people realise that they still don't know what they are being asked to vote on, the higher the chance that a No vote will happen in protest to this paternalistic approach by the government and main political parties.

Almost every conversation that I've had on the subject with random people starts with the line "well I don't know what its all about, so I'm going to vote no". Normally ignorance breeds apathy, but in this case it seems that ignorance has bred anger, and although the government enjoys a surge of popularity in the wake of Brian Cowen's ascendancy, this doesn't seem to be translating into an acceptance of his entreaties to vote Yes without worrying about the substance or implications of the Treaty. "Trust us and Vote Yes, because we say so", is decidedly the order of the day.

Not that the No campaign is doing any better. A motley crew of unrepentant republicans, right wing Catholics, neo-liberal capitalists, Gay Byrne and Jim Corr (the token Y chromosome from the Corrs) have so far done little more than promote scare tactics around the loss of national sovereignty, the imposition of the right to choose on an unsuspecting nation, the streets running red with waves of Eastern European migrants, and the general fostering upon the world of A New Wold Order run by humanoid lizards. I find it very uncomfortable to have bed-fellows such as these, for unfortunately with the notable exception of Joe Higgins, very few people are talking about workers' rights.

If a No vote happens, the national and international media will seize on it as a conservative nation rejecting Europe. No comparisons will be made with the French or Dutch rejecting the EU Constitution because it eroded workers rights; with Ireland it will be because we are a small selfish country that didn't want to loose our inflated position of power within an enlarged EU. The various No campaigners will each take credit for what they have done, and the government will set the wheels in motion to run the whole thing again in six months, and again every six months after that until we get it right.

The sad truth is that most Irish voters don't care about Europe. They have no interest in the EU, or what happens in Brussels, and only vote in EU elections when they coincide with local elections or a contentious referendum on a national issue. If a No vote does happen next week, it will be because the people resent being told what to do by a paternalistic government. They resent being treated as children and asked to vote without the issues being sufficiently explained, and will punish the government accordingly.

And I will happily settle for that.

Sunday Business Post poll
Irish Times TNS/MRBI Poll
The June issue of The Village has a pretty comprehensive guide to the Treaty, laying out the various EU charters and treaties that are being changed by Lisbon, comparing the old and new text side by side, and providing analysis and comment from the Yes and No campaigns on each revision. The Print version of the magazine is a lot easier to follow, but its worth a look online as well.


At 9:08 pm, Blogger tpy said...

I wonder what it would be like to live in a country where no one cares what happens in any other country in the world, and where the government asks you to quietly do as they say because they know best for you.

But fortunately I live in the U.S.

At 9:19 pm, Blogger Unkie Dave said...


At 10:33 am, Blogger Kate said...

Even if I hadn't already made up my mind how to vote...
Even if I hadn't actually read up on the pros and cons and made an informed decision...
My vote would have been swayed by two things:

1) As you've mentioned - the yes campaigns infuriating smugness. 'we know what's best so do as we tell you - and the nos are obviously just scardie-ba'

2) Minister for Justice Brian Lennihan on a live debate in the Conrad Hotel on TodayFM's last word radio show last Thursday whining "well you don't have to be the one who has to try and explain it to Europe after we vote No" (sic)

(full debate can be heard on http://www.todayfm.com/Article.asp?id=717522)

It reinforces my belief that the Govt. parties are urging the Yes vote not because it serves our best interest - but because they're afraid of not being allowed to hang out with the cool kids.


At 11:53 am, Blogger Unkie Dave said...

@Kate - wow, the government is playing both the patrician father and the guilt-inducing mother - "you never call, you never visit, you make me look bad in front of all the other countries"

speaking of which, maybe I need to go out to Howth...


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