Ireland and Lisbon

I spent much of last week in Dublin and helped organise yesterday a well attended Europe for Ireland press conference in the European Parliament for the eleven Irish MEPS supporting the Lisbon Treaty.

The mood is not very optimistic and there is clearly a lot of work to do for the Yes campaigners. Polls show a large but falling majority of Yes over No voters (46-29%) with 25% in the undecided or Don’t Know category. In an earlier poll, 54% of respondents were Yes voters. (There was no statistically significant increase in the percentage of No voters from one poll to the other. )

So what is happening? There are a number of possible factors. First, Ireland is in the midst of an unprecedented economic and financial crisis – an economic decline of perhaps 15%, currently the biggest of any developed nation. Government approval is at its lowest ever and there is widespread distrust of bankers, politicians, business and everyone else “who got us into this mess”. Some difficult decisions have been taking already (cuts in public service pay) and even more unpopular decisions will be taken in the coming months. So, the public mood is not exactly sunny or trusting.

The No campaign is also effective – lying in some cases but effective. Their messages are wrong but simple – Lisbon will bring down the minimum wage in Ireland. (It won’t, although the government might.) 95 % of Europeans would vote against Lisbon, if they got the chance (misquoting Commissioner McCreevy, who anyway doesn’t know what he is talking about.) Lisbon will bring in abortion in Ireland. Lisbon will raise our taxes. Lisbon means “foreign rule”. Lisbon is bad for Irish farmers, workers and the developing world etc

Some of these claims are political (sharing part of our sovereignty = foreign rule, and “giving up our veto”) but these tend to be arguments against the EU as a whole and not only the Lisbon Treaty. Many other claims seem to be outright lies – including the claim that the EU could seize elderly people’s savings and homes and can take children off people who suffer from mild forms of alcoholism or depression or who do not own a family home.”

Unfortunately big lies can be effective. As someone said, if a lie is big enough people will find it hard to believe it is an outright lie. At the press conference yesterday, Marian Harkin MEP said yesterday that she had received phone calls from worried carers asking if it was true that Lisbon would have this effect.

All MEPs yesterday agreed that we have a fight on our hands and that it was essential to reach out to as many people as possible in house to house canvassing to stress the benefits of the Lisbon Treaty for Ireland and to counteract the claims of the No side. END

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  1. The Lisbon Treaty is a rat trap that puts people in cages
    and contributes to the reign of Banksters.

    It is vital to delay the possible ratification.

    We absolutely need time to inform our citizens about the perversity of a system that abandons the democratic process and derived a forced march to the satisfaction of powerful special interests to the detriment of general interest.

    We need time to warn people about the realities of the Bilderberg meetings, the Trilateral Commission, the Council of Foreign Relations, etc. …
    All these circles undemocratic working under cover for decades and grow to a new world order where people no longer have their say.

    We need time to allow people to become aware of the real objectives of the New World Order.

    The treaty must be thoroughly amended to give latitude to the democratic expression:

    > Freedom of expression and opposition should be more explicitly encouraged.
    > The fight against the illegal actions of lobbying – from financial groups, ideological and industrial – must be clearly
    > The fight against the lies and corruption of the powerful must be included as a right of every citizen and sanctions of dismissal and disqualification should be the rule.
    > Transparency of debates and votes in Parliament must be total (video recording sessions available to every citizen, minutes of meetings available to all citizens)

    The Lisbon Treaty is not in this sense and for this reason it should not be ratified.

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