Ireland and Lisbon

Cliche alert- Politics and Beds

When I started this blog I resolved not to use the phrase “Politics makes strange bedfellows”, because it is rather obvious and I would have to use it every day to describe the strange alliances in the referendum campaign, especially on the NO side.

I am going to break my resolve now and I blame UKIP for this. According to Gawain Towler, UKIP spokesman, “Politics makes for odd bedfellows,” and “We’re on the same side as the shinners [Sinn Féin],” (Guardian 25th September).

The feeling is not mutual According to Sinn Fein “UKIP has no mandate, no support and no place in Irish politics. Nigel Farage’s party should play no active part in the Irish Lisbon referendum campaign. We don’t want their kind of right wing politics in Ireland and they should stop interfering in what is a matter for Irish citizens in this state.”

So, a tragic tale of unrequited love …

This is not surprising. I am surprised, though, that UKIP thought their intervention might help the No vote in Ireland. I am not saying they have no right to try, but they are wasting their time.
When one looks at other UKIP policies, it seems clear that they are unlikely to win friends in Ireland. For example, they demand the introduction of border controls on “all points of entry into the UK”. Irish people entering Northern Ireland or the British mainland should ‘be registered and tracked on their entry and exit from the country’. (To be fair, Irish people might be welcomed as tourists ‘but with proper border and security checks’.)

Presumably they also wish to put an end to the voting rights of Irish citizens living in the UK?

With this kind of baggage, UKIP has nothing to offer the Irish people.

UKIP often highlight instances of what they regard as a waste of taxpayers’ money in the EU. Their group in the European Parliament, the Europe of Freedom and Democracy Group, is subsidised by European taxpayers and they have spent at least 150 000 euro (their figure) on circulating an anti-Lisbon leaflet to all Irish households. This is a clear waste of taxpayers’ money.

As for the contents of the leaflet, the less said the better. It is packed with false claims about the effects of the Lisbon Treaty, leading me to suspect that the authors are either stupid or lying or both – stupid if they really believe the Treaty will have all the results they claim and lying if they do not. But, don’t take my word for it – have a look at the leaflet on

and other websites.

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  1. Most people will not read and analyse the Lisbon text in full, and some will rely on trusted figures to decide finally how (and whether) to vote. In this context, British conservatives are likely to be as influential as Irish political parties would be in an English election – in other words not very. ( I am assuming that it would be clear where the message is coming from, in each case)

    The situation is less clear in relation to the British tabloids, which have Irish versions with very large circulations particularly among the groups known to advertisers as the CDs and Es. This is an chicken and egg question – do tabloids influence the political views of their readers or do readers pick the tabloids that reflect their political views?
    Also, there is an impression that the British tabloids are much less strident on this issue this time, as compared to a year ago. .

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