Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Another Lisbon Letter

Do a search on the Lisbon Treaty in Google Images. You'll be treated to a selection of hysterical pictures, each one pretending to be a valid reason to vote "no" to a treaty designed to streamline the running of an enlarged EU.

You will see pictures of aborted foetuses, images of stormtroopers depicting a militaristic "European Army" (which, of course does not, and will not, exist). There's even a swastika in there somewhere - have a look.

As a barometer of the ignorance of the Irish people - and the latest generation of spoilt, nationalistic, Celtic Brats, in particular - it is quite telling. But at least a sizeable portion of that odious genre will be taking the Ryanair emigration plane out of here soon - which is something that makes our economic implosion worthwhile, in my view.

Last week Gombeen Nation featured a letter from a John Hughes of Galway which summed up, for me, the level of debate on Lisbon here in Ireland. See Gombeen Nation: we should not be allowed Lisbon Vote

Contrast that with one of the best pieces of correspondence that I have read on the issue, below. It appeared in the Irish Times shortly after the "no" vote. For me, it shows why people should not be allowed vote on issues they don't - or don't want to - understand. It also shows how a narrow, nationalist perspective can never be a progressive one in an EU context.

Madam, - The supporters of a No vote in the referendum campaign have continually expressed outrage that people in other countries were not given the chance to vote on the Lisbon Treaty in their own referendums. Declan Ganley, Patricia McKenna and Mary Lou MacDonald have expressed the belief that other countries would have voted the same way as the French and Dutch did some time ago and the Irish did last week. Surveys in Germany have been quoted to support this view.

I have little reason to doubt this is true. However since, Sinn Féin prides itself on its insular "all-Ireland" perspective, Mr Ganley's business interest seem to lie largely in the UK and the US and Ms McKenna is no longer an MEP, these advocates of plebiscites may be less au fait with the reasons why other countries might vote No. I would like to acquaint them with some of the reasons why the Germans, for example, would have voted the Treaty down.

The majority of Germans are no different to the French, the Dutch and the Irish and look at this issue purely from a particularist, nationalist perspective: what's in it for me or us? Had they been asked to vote they would have said No for one or all of the following reasons. They are unhappy:

1. That Germany has been the paymaster of the EU for decades and massive funds have been transferred to other countries (such as Ireland, which has now even shown itself ungrateful for all this support), when Germany needed the money very badly herself to deal with the financial consequences of re-unification.

2. That some German banks have left Germany with the loss of hundreds of jobs and are taxing their profits in other countries (such as Ireland). The German government has done little to abolish these tax imbalances.

3. That a country of 82 million people like Germany is represented at Commissioner level in the post-Lisbon Treaty EU in the same way as a small country (such as Ireland, with only 4.5 million people).

4. That so little German is spoken in Brussels, although the German language community is actually the largest in the EU.

5. Given last week's events, that a country of 82 million people should be bossed around by a small country (such as Ireland) and be stopped from implementing its own policies, whatever they are.

All this is extremely simplistic of course, but the German electorate is no more and no less sophisticated in these matters than the Irish is. How fostering self-centred nationalist opinions such as these in Germany or in other EU countries can in any way be beneficial for Ireland and the Union as a whole is a riddle only the advocates of plebiscites can solve for me.

Thank God there are still parliamentarians, politicians and civil servants who take a broader view of European and world politics and inhabit the real world of political interdependence and extremely complex negotiations in order to keep every country and its interests somehow on board. If they work in Brussels they are usually denounced as Eurocrats. As to the view of another advocate of referendums, Mr Joe Higgins, that any No is also an expression of a deep unease about the neo-liberal, globalised, capitalist agenda increasingly taking hold of the world, I fully concur with this assessment.

It is, no, doubt as true for Germany as it is for France and the Netherlands. But this particular road map is being designed in Washington, Bejing, Moscow, Delhi and Abu Dhabi as well as in Brussels, with the EU arguably being among the less ruthless of the new superpowers. This brave new world is not a very pleasant one and it is very understandable that the electorate would like to wish it away by saying No and return to the certainties of a cosy, capitalist pre-1989 world where at least India and China knew their place.

But this is cloud-cuckoo land. Then again, electorates in all countries love to have their heads in the clouds and some at times even parade their ignorance. As some members of the "sophisticated" Irish electorate put it: I don't know what this treaty is about and don't understand the issues [as I did not bother to read a booklet with eight pages of text in plain English] and this is why I vote, and it's No.

Referendums such as these do not bring out the best in people, and certainly not the best thinking. If more than 80 per cent of the elected politicians agree on a point, especially if they comprise both government and opposition, who love to be at loggerheads, they could actually be right.

- Yours, etc,


Co Tipperary.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008

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Anonymous said...

ola gm my oirish english is abit rusty, there will be more than idiot brats on ryan air it will be standing room only with their formly smug hubristic masters of the universe parents in tow, oleary has this figuredout smart a$$hole that,i expect they will also have to stand on one leg to save room, poland looks promosing they might get old jobs back at 3$ per hr, i hear the poles are stone mad about the oirishh cheerio from beverly hills

The Gombeen Man said...

It could happen, Mr BH - and though lots of good people like yourself and myself left Irelands shores in the past (tho I made the mistake of coming back), I'll be glad to see these Celtic Brat Little Ireland f**kers go!! That's if anyone else in Europe will have them, that is. Good to hear from you, btw.

Funny thing is, Airbus actually did a study on standing "seats" three years ago - so I hope M.O'L isn't trying to pass it off as his own idea.