It's time for everyone's favourite hot-button topic: the Lisbon treaty. Fun times ahead!
My cousin, who occasionally reads this blog (hello!), was telling me about the reason he voted 'no' during the last referendum. Or rather, the reason he would have voted 'no' if he had actually been registered to vote.
"I'd have voted no because the government wanted me to vote yes."
It's an interesting reason, but not that unusual. Lots of people voted/are voting 'no' simply because they want to "stick it" to a government that they are increasingly mistrustful and resentful of. The Irish people feel like their government isn't actually on their side. For example, many people argue that NAMA is designed to bail out the bankers at the expense of the taxpayer. Photos from the recent Dail debate don't really help us to feel like there's any reason to doubt that. And when you get overblown, selfish and mercenary fucksocks like Ryanair's Michael O'Leary (pictured here with a personal message for you) coming out in support of the "yes" campaign, well, that just confirms people's suspicions. We've all seen his vision for the airline of the future, why should we presume that he would want anything less for the people of his country? Professor of comparative political behavior at Trinity College, Michael Marsh, points out "for some people, the intervention of big business confirms that this is not good for workers."
So why would my cousin vote 'no' a second time (again, if he was on the register)?
"I'd vote no because I really hate that thing of 'You got a referendum and you MADE THE WRONG CHOICE. Now try again.'"
It's true that the referendum is basically the same as it was the last time. What's changed is the fact that Ireland has secured a number of legal guarantees regarding a number of the core issues that caused people to vote 'no' last time. It means that the Lisbon treaty does not and cannot affect Ireland's constitution on the subjects of security, defense and right to life. Ignore these militant (read: demented nutball) anti-Lisbon groups who say that, no, this is not the case and that these "guarantees" are "as useful as a politician’s promise, and just as easily broken." Coir still insist that Lisbon would introduce abortion laws. On the other hand, the Irish Bishops say that this is not the case, and Irish people can vote either way in good conscience. Now, which group would you turn to for your moral guidance?
A 'no' result would fuck us. And we're talking the terrifying hard pounding of a prison rape, not the gentle, tender feathery stroking we've experienced in the last year. But as well as the effect it would have on Ireland and its economy, imagine what it would do to Europe. Everyone's favourite little megalomaniacal midget, Berlusconi, has been once again throwing around the idea of creating a 'two tier' Europe, where some animals are more equal than others. This from a man who threatened to block all EU business unless Commission spokespeople STFU about Italy's immigration policies. Can you imagine what happens if there's a 'no' result and Ireland takes his place as the red-headed stepchild of Europe? Ouch.
The other reason lots of people voted 'no' in the first referendum was because they said that it was too complicated. In a way, this is a fair point, I've always believed in the idea of not signing my name to a contract I don't fully understand. But it's been a year since people first became aware of the Lisbon treaty and this isn't a viable excuse any more. If you don't understand the contract, you owe it to yourself and the person whose contract it is to go off and figure it out. As Owen Corrigan put it in his article in the Tribune, this made last year's 'no' result "less a triumph of democracy for the voters of a ruggedly independent state, and more a triumph of ignorance in the face of reason, rationality and responsibility." (Seriously, if you read nothing else in this whole campaign, I urge you to read this article.)
In the end though, I guess a lot of people will vote based less on the issues and more on ridiculous external factors, like who is encouraging you to vote what way. Sure, Michael O'Leary wants you to vote 'yes,' but David Icke, the 'I am the son of God and the world is ruled by giant lizards' guy wants you to 'no.' Think about that.