Lisbon No voter converted to YES

Update: It looks like 862,415 Irish people (53% of the electorate) don’t read this blog and voted no. Note to self: must increase blog readership. Looks like we’re all going to find out what the consequence (big or small) of a No vote is.

I don’t normally talk about politics on this blog, but this one is important , so excuse me if I make a rare exception. For readers from outside of Ireland, we’re the only country that is holding a referendum vote on the Lisbon treaty next Thursday (12th), which changes how the European Union (EU) is going to go about it’s internal business.

Like a lot of Irish people I was initally going to vote ‘No‘, partly because of unhappiness with the current political and economic outlook. Also partly by the poor ‘Yes’ campaign – loads of posters with policiticans faces, but no reasons why I should cast my vote in favour.

There’s been no official explanation of the (incomprehensible) treaty text. But the guide on RTE’s website shows the treaty changes and gives clear explanations as to what the changes mean.

European Flag

Why I’ve changed my mind to vote yes. And not because of the patronising ‘jobs jobs jobs’ or ‘laughing stock of Europe’ arguments. (For the record , I find the no campaigns scaremongering about neutrality / taxes / take-away-our-babies equally offensive). Here’s why

  • Europe has been good for Ireland – and not just the free roads. A large part of the peace process happened because the EU removed the differences between Ireland and Britain. I remember stopping at the customs post on the (single lane) main road between Dundalk and Newry. Very different now , with the M1 Motorway crossing what was previously ‘bandit country’.
  • Europe has been good to me personally. I’ve been able to work (visa free) in 3 other European countries. It’s allowed me to study (with the host government paying the fees) in two more. Very different from the alternative of being an undocumented worker in the US.
  • This is not a ‘free’ protest vote. There are consequences to voting no (maybe big, maybe small, nobody can guess at this stage). We’re not teenagers any more; it’s a big decision and should be treated as such.
  • Without Europe, we’re more or less just a region of the UK. Before we signed up to EMU (the prequel to the Euro) in the 70’s the Irish pound was tied one-to-one to UK sterling. All economic decisions were effectively made in London. We may have only a small voice at the big European table, but it’s better that what we had previously – no voice at all.

I still think there is a lot that could be better with the EU – despite the increase in the powers of the European Parliament, the EU isn’t (yet) democratic enough. It’s far from perfect. It’s messy. But that’s life, and previous generations of Irish people would love to have a choice like this.

But what pushed me over the edge to vote yes is the Spoofers guide to the Lisbon treaty. Read it. Then decide.

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8 comments

  1. Martin Luther · June 10, 2008

    traight Irish men and women. Please do our european continent a favor and vote NO to the lisbon treaty.

    I ask your help for us all from germany. Most people in the 27 country’s are NOT AGAINST the european union but AGAINST an EU of the big busineses. Against an antidemocratic not even to say a faschist EU which do not care about their people. Wich do not care about our children and which do not care about peace.

    They only care about foreign ressources which they want to “secure” for europe by means of war if neccessary.

    They want send our children into death, just to secure their profits.

    Again, good people of ireland. Remind your history as a strong and free nation as well as remind your responsibility for other european nations who dont have the opportunity to decide.
    God bless you..

  2. Pascal Bleser · June 11, 2008

    Thanks for the link. A very enjoyable read, indeed, even though I live in Belgium, work in Germany and have English as my 3rd language.. oh, and I don’t get to vote about adhering to the treaty but that’s fine, I’m all for it.

    It is certainly worth knowing that what happened with the Constitution was that in France, it was solely about French politicians having a game of influence over the next best topic. Which happened to be the EU Constitution. There was the yes camp and the no camp, and it was only about purely French concerns for the up-coming presidential elections. It had absolutely nothing to do with the content of the Constitution. Obviously, the text being pretty dry and long, no one actually read it, and just believed what one or another French politician told them. Which is why work like Jason O’Mahony’s is refreshing and immensely useful.

    Voting no “because of unhappiness with the current political and economic outlook” would have been a very stupid thing to do btw, glad you noticed. I’m sure there are good reasons to vote no, although I personally believe the good reasons to vote yes outweigh them, which is what it’s all about: compromise, not only agreeing to something if you like 100% of it. But a protest vote is just an extraordinary dumb idea: that’s how France ended up with Le Pen in the second round of presidential elections, and then with a corrupt Chirac as prez.

    “lange Rede kurzer Sinn”, thanks again for the link, just wanted to share my 0.02€ about it 🙂

  3. Piaras MacDonnell · June 11, 2008

    What ever you opinion on Lisbon the “Spoofers guide to the Lisbon treaty” was a funny read 🙂

  4. A frenchA · June 11, 2008

    Help you,why thefrench said NO?

    The new president Sarkozy use the parlement to vote the new constitution, the text is the same.
    The Yes said “remmber that the europe was good for you, you must show that you are good europe people”.
    The president Chirac decide to send the paper at all the people, a big error for the yes.
    Have you receive the “constitution”, because after, the french people ask was on the write, not on the speech,
    on the futur with this text.
    Yes at the peripherical of the text, good intention but in the center, the most is an econmical project completely close.
    Cut the apple in two, do pragmatic said yes, but the cut is not right!
    At 56% the french said that it is not the place in a constitution, changing the name is the solution!.
    The french people was not opposite to europe, but the people europe to help and complement not the economical war
    the only solution in the text.
    Vote NO, only because you are alone, you cans stop and at minimum ask that all europe of people vote.
    When the YES see that the NO shoud be the winnner, the yes said: “dangerous, the french will be the bad, no minister, no good think for you”.
    In french “la carotte et le baton”
    Thank.
    A french

  5. Paul Browne · June 12, 2008

    Dear Mr Luther and ‘FrenchA’ (if that is your real name!).

    To paraphrase one of your key arguments – ‘Vote No on behalf of the German and French people’.

    I’m sorry to hear that you don’t have a referendum in your contry, but please talk to your local politicians about it.

    It’s my vote and it’s very important to me, but thanks for your advice.

    Paul

  6. Steffino · June 14, 2008

    after the irish ‘no’ everybody tries to explain and many foolish things are said e.g. ‘the irish people have no idea of the treaty’ or ‘they just wanted to take revenge on their government’

    so i’d like to get some personal statements from people who voted ‘no’ and publish them in my weblog

  7. Frank Boyle · May 3, 2009

    The above reasons for voting ‘yes’ are probably the most trivial I have seen to date. The EU has been good to us? The EU has taken our fish stocks. We are now expected to pour money into the new states. The EMU has been disasterous to Ireland. It has ruined our economy and businesses are moving to Poland which has retained its currency and more importantly its right to adjust its interest rates.

    We have been flooded by migrants from Eastern Europe, and lower skilled Irish workers cannot compete with them.

    We do have a nice road leading North, but there is a toll to pay.

    Anything positive that has happened Ireland because of EU membership has happened without Lisbon. We must never give up our sovereignty. If we really want to thank Europe then we should uphold the ‘No’ votes that have been cast against it. We should show our gratitude to the people of the member states, and not to the political elite in Brussels.

  8. Paul Browne · May 4, 2009

    @Frank,

    Disagree with your point of view – apart from the fish. You’re right that Farmers gained less from the CAP than we lost in the fish stocks!

    Europe’s not perfect, but the alternative is worse. Dev tried the ‘ourselves alone’ hoarding (not sharing) of sovereignty back in the 1930’s, and condemned generations to the scourge of immigration. EMU’s not great when it goes against you (e.g. now with a fixed exchange rate) but being tied to Sterling (which we were immediately before turning to the prequel to EMU) wasn’t any better.

    So Lisbon Yes or No? We’ll probably get another chance to decide pretty soon …

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