by Frank Schnittger
Thu Oct 1st, 2009 at 09:49:11 AM EST
Ireland votes on the Lisbon Treaty on Friday and the political temperature is gradually heating up. Denis MacShane, former British European Minister had this to say in Tuesday's Irish Times: Voters should beware the advice of false friends across Irish Sea - The Irish Times - Tue, Sep 29, 2009
IT WAS British Conservative prime minister Lord Salisbury who grandly announced in a debate in the London parliament at the end of the 19th century that he would "no more give the vote to the Irish than to the Hottentot". That vulgar imperial Old Etonian racism has today been replaced by a crude Old Etonian anti-Europeanism in the ruling circles of the English dominant classes and especially in the Conservative Party.
Far from thinking the Irish unfit to vote, much of England's elite think the Irish people's vote is a capital thing - provided of course they use it to vote down the Lisbon Treaty. In London's club land, in the editorial offices of many newspapers and in the massed ranks of the Conservative Party, there is a fervent hope that the Irish will do the right thing for their long-gone rulers and vote No to Europe.
If the Irish vote No, they will be the heroes of the hour for Rupert Murdoch, for former pornographer Richard Desmond, who owns the Daily Express , and for the Barclay Brothers, the offshore owners of the Daily Telegraph and the Spectator. The Daily Mail and the Sun , whose rabid anti-Irish columnists and cartoons have been a feature of British "journalism" these last decades, will find nothing but praise for the sagacity of the fine men and women of Ireland if they vote No.
promoted - with an edit - by nanne
Meanwhile the chief No campaigner, Declan Ganley, has run into a spot of bother...
Ganley accuses Lenihan of untruths over funding - The Irish Times - Tue, Sep 29, 2009
Citing a newspaper report, Mr Lenihan said one of Mr Ganley's main backers was "a London-based hedge fund which would hardly be described as being interested in the economic wellbeing and future of this country".
He said that, in fact, "quite a number of these hedge funds have taken out specific bets" on the insolvency of Ireland.
"Clearly they see a No vote as assisting a bet which is now failing for them because of the growing international confidence in the country which has taken place in recent weeks as a result of the Nama announcement."
He called on Mr Ganley "to confirm that this particular outfit who are funding him has no bets on Ireland". The Minister was referring to a report in the Sunday Independent that a leading British investor, Crispin Odey, who "made hundreds of millions of euro" short-selling Anglo-Irish Bank, had donated almost 18,500 in money and services to Libertas.
Ganley has accused (Finance Minister) Brian Lenihan of telling lies and claimed that the donations in question referred to last June's European election campaign. However since Ganley has not disclosed the sources of funding for his current Anti-Lisbon campaign, can we not assume that his sources of funding are similar to the last time around?
Ganley accuses Lenihan of untruths over funding - The Irish Times - Tue, Sep 29, 2009
Mr Odey, who contributed £3,000 in cash to Libertas.eu and made three non-cash donations totalling £13,964 received an annual bonus of almost 28 million last year from Odey Asset Management, which he founded.
That was largely because he took short positions on banks - ie bet that their share prices would fall.
Oxford-educated Mr Odey is married to Nichola Pease, the chief executive of JO Hambro Capital Management and part of the family that founded Barclays Bank.
The couple are listed at 272 in the Sunday Times list of the richest people in Britain and Ireland, with a combined worth of £204 million. Mr Odey has threatened to leave London over personal tax rates.
Mr Odey has contributed £25,000 to a political organisation described as "the Christian Party Proclaiming Christs Lordship" this year and £57,000 to the Conservative Party since 2007.
Meanwhile a sample from today's Irish Time's letters page gives some illustration of the level of argumentation being employed by the yes and no sides in the debate: While the No side make ludicrous assertions about "Ireland [militarily] commanding the western approaches to Europe" and "letting the EU come begging to us" the Yes side is forced into somewhat more detailed argumentation refuting No claims that Ireland's voting representation will be much reduced and that Lisbon will make Irish law subordinate to the EU for the first time. It really is a question of whether reason or xenophobic chauvinism win out in this debate...
Lisbon Treaty referendum - The Irish Times - Tue, Sep 29, 2009
A chara, - Jamie Smyth's article (September 19th) on Lisbon's double majority voting system is very illuminating. However, it contains a myth repeated so often by Declan Ganley, Anthony Coughlan and others that it now seems to be taken as a fact: that Lisbon would reduce Ireland's voting weight in Europe from 2 per cent to 0.8 per cent. The 0.8 per cent figure corresponds to Ireland's population share, but not its voting weight.
The new double majority rule requires that an action be supported by a majority (55 per cent) of states that represent a majority (65 per cent) of the EU population. This rule involves a "country" criterion that weighs all states equally and a "population" criterion that gives more weight to bigger countries. If only the country criterion were used, Ireland's voting weight would be one in 27 or about 3.7 per cent; if only the population criterion were used, Ireland's weight would be 0.8 per cent. But both are used and so Ireland's weight lies somewhere between these two extremes.
In fact, analysis of the rule using one of the most common measures of voting power (the Banzhaf index) shows that Lisbon places approximately 41 per cent of the weight on the country criterion and 59 per cent on the population criterion; this gives Ireland an overall voting weight of 2 per cent. So once you take account of both criteria you find that Ireland's weight is virtually unchanged by Lisbon.
What the Lisbon rules do change for Ireland is how easily the EU as a whole can make decisions: under Nice rules only about 2 per cent of all possible coalitions of countries could pass a law; this jumps to 13 per cent under Lisbon. So what is really at stake is not how much power we would have but what type of power we want: the power simply to make sure that things stay much as they are or the power to improve them. - Is mise,
Associate Professor of Political
New York, US.
Madam, - It is sickening the way the Yes to Lisbon camp crawl with begging bowl to the big EU states. It would be the other way round if we but stood up for ourselves!
We have a magnificently wealthy 200-mile economic zone around us, though our fisheries are plundered by the EU. Our neutrality remains highly respected at the United Nations and around the globe. Above all militarily we have a vital strategic position commanding the western approaches to Europe.
We have said No once, let the EU now come begging to us, let them alter the real terms of the this greed-based treaty, rather than throw us a few unenforceable protocols. - Yours, etc,
Madam, - Dr David Honan (September 26th) claims that the wording for Friday's referendum will emasculate our Constitution, rendering it subservient to the EU. Dr Honan omits to mention that the wording to which he objects is, save for the addition of the words "Treaty of Lisbon," the same as was inserted into the Constitution in 1972. Ireland and the other member-states have assigned certain areas of responsibility to the EC and the EU. Within those areas, the law of the EC and EU is supreme. It would be impossible for the EC and EU to function as we expect if this were not the case. Nothing in the Lisbon Treaty changes this.
Too much of the Yes campaign has involved debunking such misunderstandings rather than providing people with reasons to vote yes. One positive aspect of the treaty has received little attention in the debate. Member-states must comply with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and, if applicable, bills of rights in their own constitutions. However, the EC/EU institutions have not been subject to any written human rights guarantee. Lisbon's effective incorporation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the proposal that the EU itself sign up to the ECHR both address this situation. If Lisbon enters into force, fundamental disputes about European law will be resolved by reference to human rights provisions and not just the criterion of market efficiency that has tended to guide the European Court of Justice in the past. A further reason to vote Yes. - Yours, etc,
The irony of ironies of the whole campaign is that the most extreme nationalist party, Sinn Fein, is campaigning alongside the most nationalist British party, the UKIP, in arguing against greater European integration as contained in the Treaty. Given that Sinn Fein is a mostly Northern Ireland based party, could it be that they feel more comfortable living under British rule?
The polls have been very favourable to the yes side...
RTÉ News: Boost for Lisbon Yes campaign
The last major opinion poll of the Lisbon Referendum shows growing support for the Treaty with just six days to go to polling day.
The Red C poll in tomorrow's Sunday Business Post shows that, excluding those who have yet to decide, the Yes lead has stretched to more than two-thirds of voters.
More than 1,000 voters around the country were surveyed on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
The results show that 55% of adults said they would vote Yes, up one point since the last poll two weeks ago.
27% said they would vote No, up two points and 18% are undecided.
When the 'undecideds' are excluded, the Yes side leads by 67% to 33%.
Technically, of course, the headline is misleading - if the Yes side has increased by one point, and the No by two. There has also been some evidence of the gap narrowing in another recent poll...
Irish support for Lisbon Treaty up - poll | Top News | Reuters
DUBLIN (Reuters) - Irish support for the European Union's Lisbon reform treaty rose two points to 48 percent on Friday but the latest opinion poll also showed the opposition gaining some ground, as the number of "don't knows" shrank.The "no" camp was up four points to 33 percent, a week before votes are cast. The Irish Times/TNS mrbi poll saw the undecided category drop by six points to 19 per cent.
At a similar stage before last year's referendum 35 percent of voters polled remained undecided
Another misleading headline, but with the undecided (who broke NO last time) being down from 35% to 19% there is much less scope for that to happen this time. There is also a shift within camps to those "strongly yes" increasing as a proportion indicating that Yes turnout may be higher on this occasion.
I have been predicting a 60:40 yes since the beginning of the year and see no reason to change that at this stage. The major factor behind this c. 15% swing to yes is the economy and the feeling that we need Europe more than they need us.
It is hard to say whether the slightly more effective Yes campaign has also been a factor. More likely, it is the NO campaign which has been more ineffective - with Ganley having lost his novelty factor and his credibility by his U-turn on his promise not to campaign this time around. The greater (if slightly covert) involvement of the UKIP may also be a negative factor.
A lot of people will judge the issue not by the content of the treaty, but by the composition of who is for and against. Almost the entire political and business establishment has lined up in favour - but their credibility is badly damaged by political scandal and economic melt-down. However the NO campaign is made up of extreme Nationalists (Sinn Fein), British Nationalists (UKIP), religious fundamentalists (Coir) and left wing groups and individuals like Joe Higgins (MEP) Patricia McKenna (ex Greens and MEP) who collectively would normally get less than 5% of the national vote.
So on this occasion I think the ayes will have it.