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Thanks for this very thoughtful response.

det:

You need to spend more time thinking about this from a perspective that does not pre-suppose a positive view of the EU.

All surveys show that that the vast majority of Irish people take a very positive view of our membership and saw the Lisbon referendum (as you say) as a no-risk way of keeping things the same as opposed to voting against the EU.

The many contradictory strands of the No campaign all claimed to support the EU (they couldn't afford not to) but then proceeded to support anti-EU positions which far exceeded anything in Lisbon itself.

*. Libertas adopted a British style Eurosceptic approach arguing for an economic rather than a political Union together with populist waffle about a lack of direct democracy which doesn't exist anywhere outside Switzerland

*. COIR opposed the liberalising agenda of EU human rights based social and employment legislation from a traditionalist Catholic background (without identifying it explicitly as such)

*. Left-wing opponents criticised the EU for its lack of intervention in Irish affairs - the environment, social legislation, economic equality etc. - a position directly contradictory to all the above

*. Sinn Fein did what they always did in Northern Ireland - overnegotiate so much that agreement breaks down - and then have to come back later and accept a lesser deal.  Far from being able to negotiate a better deal from the EU by our rejection, we have hugely damaged our negotiating position.  This is slowly being understood more generally.

*.  Traditional Nationalists would oppose the loss of national Sovereignty embodied in the EU forgetting that that was primarily conceded in 1973 and that all treaties involve a loss/sharing of "sovereignty" in that sense.

My "strategy" - as you put it - would expose the actually rather limited nature of what Lisbon is really about.  Those that continued to oppose it (as all the above undoubtedly would) would be exposed as opposing not just Lisbon and its limited impact on Ireland, but many much broader aspects of the EU itself such as the liberalising, human rights based, social, environmental, consumer, and regulatory frameworks associated with a much larger economy/polity.

It would also highlight the fact that all these reforms were achieved in partnership with, and because of the support of our fellow members of the EU - a support which we are putting in jeopardy by undermining the expressed will of 26 member Governments (and effectively supporting the sometimes tiny opposition party opposition to Lisbon in those member states).  Do you make friends with your partner Governments by questioning their legitimacy and supporting their adversaries in their domestic politics?

Whether we like it or not, a second Referendum would be a referendum on our continued membership of the "top tier" or "inner circle" of the EU.  Some - a very few - actually want this, believing that this would allow Ireland to return to conservative catholic/rural/local community/xenophobic values - and rejecting the liberalising, secularising, cosmopolitan, globalising trends they associate with modernity and the EU.

But they would be a small minority - less than 25% of the electorate -and the exposure of the NO position as leading towards such an outcome would force the remainder of the NO vote to abstain or even change their minds.

Vote McCain for war without gain

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Aug 28th, 2008 at 04:05:00 AM EST
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