29 September 2009

Vote No to Suchard!



Quote of the morning from the Very Understanding Girlfriend on the above video: "As entertaining as that piece was I'm not sure if we should vote purely on the basis of political satire".

With less than four days to go till I march down to the polling station it's still all to play for with my vote. I'm leaning towards sticking with my principles and voting No on the basis that my primary reasons for voting No last time (that the Lisbon Reform Treaty is too pro-business and does not protect the worker enough, and that the Treaty is essentially the same document as the EU Constitution already rejected by the majority of French and Dutch voters and thus it is undemocratic to try and impose it on the citizenry of Europe against their will) are still valid regardless of the unfortunate economic circumstances we currently find ourselves in.

However I find myself in even more uncomfortable company this time round. Despite the occasional presence of Patrica McKenna (including a great debate with Senator Deirdre de Burca on City Channel, which I'm sure nobody actually saw) and Joe Higgins MEP, all the media focus is on fringe groups like Libertas and Cóir.

Libertas are scary because they think Lisbon is too socialist and that it doesn't do enough for big business. With money coming from UK Hedge fund managers that stand to gain if the Irish banking system collapses (as they did when Anglo Irish bank was nationalized), with initial seed money coming supposedly from party leader Declan Ganley's own company that is heavily invested in the US defense industry, the allegations that it is a CIA front have been around since they first emerged on the scene and haven't gone away. Either way Libertas are acting for secretive backers that stand to personally gain from further economic and political chaos in Europe.

Cóir are even scarier. They are to right wing uber-Catholic pro-life group Youth Defence what the People Before Profit Alliance is to the Socialist Workers Party, a handy front organisation designed to fool people who would never think of supporting them into voting for them. Operating out of Youth Defence's Capel Street office, and led by folks with ties to German fascist groups , Cóir have recently introduced the Sarah Palin Death Camps argument into the debate, targeting voters with physical disabilities and telling them that after Lisbon II they would be "put down like a dog". While this may have been just the tactics used by a single canvasser, the group as a whole has adopted a line that Lisbon II will force the introduction of abortion into Ireland, and that this will also lead to the state-mandated termination of fetuses exhibiting signs of physical or mental disabilities. Not that you'd ever guess this from their poster campaigns with fluffy pictures of giraffes and false allegations about EU mandated reductions to the minimum wage. In fact, they seem to be campaigning on every issue except the only one that actually matters to them, abortion.

And then there are the Shinners.

With bed-fellows like this who will claim victory in the event of a No vote, it is extremely difficult to hold one's head up proudly in public and proclaim "I am voting No", but that shouldn't stop me from doing so.

For the record:

1) I am pro Europe, and pro-European Union. The EU have been responsible for many aspects of Ireland's transformation from a backwater nation on the verge of being classified as a third-world country in the 1980's to being the 5th most developed nation in the world, according to the 2008 UNDP index. In many instances EU legislation has been more socially progressive than that proposed by our national government, and most of the Green legislation of recent years has emanated from the EU rather than born of the Dail. While the EU can be accused of being unwieldy and bureaucratic, to my mind it cannot be accused of being as endemically corrupt as successive iterations of Fianna Fail governments, in fact it is arguable that the EU has reined in some of the worst excesses of our own governments who would naturally be inclined to legislate purely in favour of their own pockets and those of their backers in the property, construction and banking sectors.

2) I am pro-immigration. I believe that Ireland, even in its current economic depression, has more than enough resources and opportunities to share, and our culture and society is greatly enhanced by an influx of new traditions and ideas. It has been argued that increased immigration will lead to further exploitation of the workforce as migrants will accept lower wages, thus driving down wages for all workers in a given sector. This view shifts blame for depressed wages away from the exploitative employers who offer such wages and on to the migrants for accepting such wages. The way to combat this is to legislate a high minimum wage for all workers and enforce it, creating a employees' market where skills are at a premium and employers compete for workers, rather than an employers' market where workers fight each other in a race-to-the-bottom over wages.

3) I am pro-choice. In the 1990's I was part of a case that went to both the Supreme Court and the European Court of Justice, arguing for the right to disseminate information in Ireland on pregnancy options that were legally available in other EU countries. Facing jail and prohibitive legal fees I fought for an individual's right to choose, and the days spent in the Supreme Court awaiting my fate were some of the proudest of my life.

4) I believe in intervention in international situations in limited circumstances. An EU intervention in Rwanda, Congo or Darfur in the face of internal genocide would, in my mind, have been justified. US and NATO Action in Kosovo and Iraq was not. The EU is not NATO and the presence of a substantial number of neutral or left-leaning nations in the EU should ensure that any action taken by an EU peacekeeping group is on humanitarian and non-imperialist grounds. In fact the existence of such a group would provide an alternative to calling on NATO in situations where their presence will only exacerbate the situation. Ireland has a long and proud tradition of supporting UN peacekeeping missions and I do not have a problem with our participation in similar humanitarian or peacekeeping missions under an EU mandate.

So why then am I still thinking of voting No? I fundamentally believe that the Lisbon Reform Treaty does not go far enough to support the citizens of Europe. It protects the rights of big business, and does not focus on the individual. If the Lisbon Reform Treaty was genuinely in the interests of the citizens of Europe, why do their representative governments not let them vote on it? Why has every nation that has approved it done so via an act of parliament, and not by referendum? When every nation that has given its citizenry the chance to vote on the EU Constitution or the Lisbon Reform Treaty has rejected those treaties, why has the EU not listened to its own citizens and come back with a new document that genuinely reflects the will, the hopes and the aspirations of the people?

A constitution for Europe should be by the people, for the people and of the people; Lisbon is none of these, and that is why I have and will vote No.

Probably.

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1 Comments:

At 4:58 pm, Blogger Niall Murphy said...

I didn't know you were involved in that case Dave. You must tell me about it some time... you and V.U.G. and your legal exploits!

 

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