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Voting NO to Lisbon 2

category international | eu | feature author Friday September 04, 2009 11:55author by Harry Browne Report this post to the editors

An Article Written Especially for Indymedia.ie by Harry Browne

featured image
Harry Browne
"Voting No is a way of showing them that they’re not out of trouble yet"

There are plenty of good reasons to vote No, again, on Lisbon – far more than there are reasons to vote Yes. We shouldn’t be ashamed of saying that the best of them are only partly to do with the specificities of the treaty itself.

On the other hand, we should be careful about some of the debating points we adopt.

Anti-imperialists, peace campaigners and workers’ rights advocates on the No side have the best set of arguments, to be sure. The writings of Kieran Allen and Andy Storey, among others, are the gold standard and I wouldn’t presume to add to them. But a few folks on ‘our side’ – and with that phrase I don’t include the right-wingers who happen to support the same vote but are otherwise alien politically – are wandering down some political dark alleys.

We should not, for example, get hung up on a ‘No Means No’ kick, as though in putting the Lisbon question to another referendum the Government were behaving like a rapist. Given that many of us on the left would consider ourselves advocates of more direct democracy – and are heirs to a democratic tradition that has often advocated annual parliaments and frequent referenda – it does seem rather churlish for us to suggest that the people aren’t allowed to change their minds, as they eventually did on divorce. Admittedly a simple cry of “we told you already” has some popular, populist traction – we never, after all, get a re-run when we vote the way the elite wants us to first-time. But it’s unsustainable as a real argument.

Then there’s ‘national sovereignty’. Even among some on the left who don’t call themselves nationalists, there is a temptation to adopt this line, perhaps conflating it with the principle of ‘decentralisation’ – i.e. it’s better to have power concentrated here where we can reach it more handily. But ‘national sovereignty’ in practice, in the Ireland of this era, means ‘government by property developers and multinationals’. It is possible to conceive of a more democratic, federalised Europe that we’d be happy to see establish some of the broad legal principles under which we’d like to live. The point for the purposes of this referendum is: Lisbon definitely ain’t it – in fact it moves that Europe further away. But the idea that ‘national sovereignty’ will help Ireland turn into a more benign and just environment before Europe does is just pie in the sky. Meanwhile ‘national sovereignty’ means restricting Irish women’s access to abortions.

I was asked recently to speak in a debate titled ‘What has Europe ever done for us?’ I liked the title, both for the People’s Front of Judea allusion and because it naturally breaks down into two more fundamental questions: What is Europe? Who is (are?) ‘us’?

Europe surely is not just the EU 27, and it’s certainly not the European Union and its institutions. Europe includes the majorities of the French and Dutch electorate who voted against the EU Constitution, of which the Lisbon Treaty is a clone with a few unimportant genes snipped out. It also of course includes the majorities in Spain and Luxembourg who voted for the Constitution, for their own diverse reasons. In global and historic terms Europe is all sorts of things, including a vicious global conqueror for more than half-a-millennium and the home of nations who blithely firebombed each other’s cities within living memory. Since that bloody period that commenced 70 years ago this month, Europe’s imperialist role has been subordinate to that of the United States, but there is no reason to assume that is a permanent condition.

As for ‘us’, most of us are the beleaguered people of Great Recession-era Ireland, being pummeled for the neoliberal sins of our political and financial masters, regardless of Lisbon. We are also citizens of the world, surely capable of assessing a political project in terms other than our own personal or even national self-interest. There is no evidence, in any case, that our self-interest would be served by ratifying Lisbon – but in the voting booth perhaps we can also reach out in solidarity to the people outside the EU whose lives are blighted by the bloc’s destructive trade and aid policies.

A No vote won’t change those policies straight away, not even close. And in the short term another No could be messy locally (especially for Irish politicians). But No will be a start, a message to elites that we’ve had enough, a shout that will echo across Europe and beyond. Across the globe those elites have been in a crisis; at the moment they seem to be breathing quiet sighs of relief, as there are signs that they can crawl out of trouble, at the expense of taxpayers, public services and any residual notion of genuine democracy. Voting No is a way of showing them that they’re not out of trouble yet.

author by old codger - pensionerpublication date Fri Sep 04, 2009 12:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Does Harry know that Ireland is not a democracy? Our nation has been sold long ago to the vested interests of the friends of Fianna Fail , our ruling masters. Secret deals have been done with powerfull nations without the aproval of the Irish public.
American Military in Shannon, OIL and GAS stolen by stealth Rossport etc, hundreds of scams with banks developers and multinationals.
Fianna Fail have been liasing with America and Britain for years, they have swapped inteligence and ideas and have achieved a close relationship much of witch is undisclosed to the public. The only time they refer to the constitution is when it suits their aims.
They know that we can't do anything to them and whatever crimes they commit they will not be held acountable.
Many crimes have been discovered but because of government controll nobody is ever punished.
Our OIL and GAS is being given away to these countries and to Europe in secret deals. Our neutrality is non existant. We are about to be put into debt for many decades to appease the greed of these people without the irish people having a say on the matter. the Lisbon 2 treaty is about to further seal our fate ( A RETURN TO SLAVERY) This time it will be many more powers that controll us .
All of this has been achieved by Fianna Fail who are masters of deception and corruption. Ireland has been living under a Fianna Fail dictatorship for many years they controll the Gardai, the judiciary, the media, and most of the state bodies and they have managed to fool the people that we are a democracy.
They will not agree to an election untill they have completely ruined any chance of Ireland achieving a true democracy.
This will not change untill the people rise up and make them change, i hope that a big NO TO LISBON vote will be the start of a much needed Irish rebellion.

author by unimpressedpublication date Fri Sep 04, 2009 15:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Harry there were 9 years between the two divorce referendums, referendum usually only happen again whens there significant change or time period, neither has accursed in this case, a very sparse weak article spending most of your time telling us what we shouldn't argue on and getting that wrong.

author by Kimberley Jacobspublication date Fri Sep 04, 2009 16:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Harry is right that we should move on from the referendum being a re-run. It's a fair enough point to make, but saying "Same Treaty Same Result" is a bad way of campaigning.

It basically says to 53% of the people that they should vote the same way they did last year. It has nothing to say to the 47% that voted Yes last year. We should be confident enough that we can change some of those people's minds. The growing recession in the meantime should underline the need to oppose EU neo-liberalism. That means making fresh arguments to them, not telling them to repeat the same vote.

If we were strong enough to stop a repeat referendum, it wouldn't be happening. But we're not, and it is. Saying "No Means No" sounds like we're afraid of another vote. If we were really confident we would say "Yes, we beat Lisbon last year, but if you didn't hear us, we'll be happy to beat it again."

If we can beat Lisbon again, in the face of a better organised Yes campaign, and even beat it by a bigger margin than last time, then we are in a stronger position to kick out Cowen, stop NAMA, beat the budget cuts on the way, etc, etc. But to do that we have to make a confident appeal to people, explaining just why Lisbon is bad for working people. It isn't good enough to say "We refer you to our previous answer."

author by Ronocpublication date Fri Sep 04, 2009 16:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"If you remove the English army tomorrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle, unless you set about the organization of the Socialist Republic your efforts would be in vain. England would still rule you. She would rule you through her capitalists, through her landlords, through her financiers, through the whole array of commercial and individualist institutions she has planted in this country and watered with the tears of our mothers and the blood of our martyrs."
o Shan Van Vocht (socialist newspaper) January, 1897. Reprinted in P. Beresford Ellis (ed.), "James Connolly - Selected Writings", p. 124.

You have voted wrong vote again please! Now is the time for Ireland to stand up. Hopefully nobody will listen to the lies of the media and Government. I think people are sick of the shit and now they see whos wearing the mask. Now is the time to talk to everyone, your family, friends and neighbours.
The Revolution is now!!! the Revolution will not be televised, it will not be brought to you by RTE, FF or any of the captains of industry.
Look where they brought us!!! And they want us to vote YES. Anyone who listens to them is an absolute amadán!!!!!!!!!!!!

author by gurgle tweet - (iosaf)publication date Mon Sep 07, 2009 17:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This is a very good article especially in that reminds those with a vote in Ireland that the consequences of their simple Yes or No will be felt far beyond the shores of Ireland or any beach an Irish boy or girl might look to tan their legs on. If you really want to cut through the crap which obfuscates what the treaty would have done last referendum time around and still will do despite any assurances this time around, then all you've got to do is read how it's summarised routinely on the BBC news site.

it will streamline EU institutions & allow for a president and common foreign policy

Coming up to voting day the Irish establishment will do its best to scare voters into thinking that somehow voting no! this time will precipatate the expulsion of Ireland from the block or make the place less attractive to investment (as if the Irish state and its banking hadn't done quite enough on that score). This idea is utter crap - because there is no instrument in any of the European treaties for the expulsion of a member state, not even if they were to depose their government with a military coup d'etat or round up all their young wans & take them out of school for wearing pants could any European institution actually expel a member. They would instead debate and pass resolutions and of course fine the guilty member but as I've written they would have no mechanism to expel that state. Of course such hyperbole might seem ludicrous to many Europeans as Irish people who very much doubt that any member state of the EU would ever entertain a coup d'etat, depose its democratic regime, enact non-democratic political party laws or move to breach the enshrined UN and more xpansive European human rights declarations. Their understanding of the continent and its political system would have blithly ignored the conflict of state, corruption, mafia and the media complex in Italy, Polish legislation on homosexuality & those fit to teach in public schools not to mention several instances of political party and election irregularity.

But enough of that gurgling.

Something else the establishment in Ireland will do on the very day of the vote will be to pay inordinate and selective interest to a website called "Twitter" in an attempt to manipulate the decision of don't knows and late to poll voters by giving them the impression that exit polls and trendy new social media have come out resoundingly for a Yes vote.

don't be fooled into that.

Vote No.

author by MaryLopublication date Mon Sep 07, 2009 20:06author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Now on RTE 1 TV Debate with Mary Lou+ Nigel Ferage UKIP and 2 others. Until 8oclock I think

author by Fiachra Ó Luainpublication date Tue Sep 08, 2009 01:41author email fiachraforeurope at gmail dot comauthor address author phone 086 3193567Report this post to the editors

Good analysis of the challenges ahead and practical methods of arguing for a triumphant NO.
I think that a good way of convincing potential Yes voters is to say:
"Look even if you think an EU President, an EU foreign policy, and Nuclear Europe is a good idea, would you really engender such a political entity when Tony Blair will likely be the next EU President and Barroso is still at the helm in the Commission?"
Remind people that the last time that Barroso said there was "no political alternative" was on the eve of the Iraq war, when he welcomed George W. Bush to Europe. Barroso is up for reappointment, we should state his leadership of the Commission as a genuine cause for concern and a very valid reason to reject Lisbon.
How about suggesting that the EU includes an article in any alternative to Lisbon that it will henceforth refuse to help any belligerent force invade another country?
We must remember 2002-2003 and muster that energy again.
I think we should start making practical suggestions for the future of Europe and broadcasting them.
Good job on VB tonight Harry, I was only disappointed by your support for Ryan Turbidy.
He's bland and arrogant, a terrible indictment of our established media.
I hope we can export him soon like we did with Zig and Zag, for a country of irregular wits and geniuses we certainly don't do ourselves justice on most entertainment television.

Related Link: http://www.fiachraforeurope.ie
author by Larry Peterspublication date Sat Sep 12, 2009 12:01author address author phone Report this post to the editors

If you do vote 'YES' to Lisbon.
Do you want a war criminal for President.

Blair, the war criminal, to be appointed President of the Council of Ministers after Lisbon vote.

Here we are, back again, under the rule of a Brit war criminal.

Vote ‘yes’ in the upcoming Lisbon referendum and that is what you’ll get.

President of COM
President of COM

author by Seanopublication date Sat Sep 12, 2009 16:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This article is a good antidote to the Yes side tactic of painting the entire No side with the crazy brush. Its time for the left to get their arguments out there and take the focus from the likes of Ganley and Coir. This may be risky, as unfortunately the numbers of left voters in Ireland may not be enough to defeat Lisbon without the Eurosceptic vote. I don't think Lisbon should be defeated at any price... if it was passed after real debate and political soul-searching we might be on the road to ending the FF/FG axis.

author by undecidedpublication date Sun Sep 20, 2009 12:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Seano: I don't think Lisbon should be defeated at any price...

Nor do I. While I am sympathetic to the leftist arguments against Lisbon, I recoil from the company of Ganley, Cóir, UKIP, and the sovereignty-fetishists (on this HB's points are excellently made) with every fibre of my being. My question is a serious one - and it is genuinely a question - although I realise it goes against the grain of this forum: is voting No to Lisbon justified given that, win or lose, the No vote is unintelligible and incoherent because of the utterly incompatible politics that inform it? If anything, will voting No not give a mandate to those reactionary, conservative and racist elements whose politics are anathema to most people here? Isn't this a real problem?

author by Nopublication date Sun Sep 20, 2009 15:42author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Voters need to become aware of the police state that is being slowly built up around them, brick by brick.

Our so called "elected representatives" want us to vote for their interests: not ours.

Don't be fooled by them.

author by Tara Dolmapublication date Sun Sep 27, 2009 20:57author address author phone Report this post to the editors

In Buddhist philosophy we do not believe in a creator God but rather in cause and effect. So every action mental, verbal or physical has an effect on the whole of this dimension ie the Human's realm. The word KARMA means in very simple translation ACTION. For every cause has an effect.
Positive actions based on loving kindness and wisdom bearing out loving kindness brings a positive outcome, both immediately and in the future.
Negative actions, Killing, stealing,lying, sexual contact designed to harm another person and the use of intoxicants which impair judgement bring about negative outcomes both now and in the future.
Extended on this is the concept of right livlihood which includes working at jobs that in no way support or rejoice in negative behaviours.

The treaty states ‘implementing any measures needed to strengthen the industrial and technological base of the defence sector’ and to participate ‘in defining a European capabilities and armaments policy’ (Art. 42 TEU).

Whenever i see a picture of a child soldier i cannot bring myself to justify in any way the supporting of an armaments industry which produces these weapons that are eventually sold into the hands of those who brutalize children in this way. TO suppport this is comparable to keeping silent about the abuse scandals recently reported.

author by Eillerspublication date Sun Sep 27, 2009 21:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Beware an emotional response to this Treaty Referendum. Try to reason it out. One can be emotionally anti this group or that group but the very fact that such diverse groups are against Lisbon shows a desire for democracy and freedom of speech - Democracy demands giving a hearing to all groups even those you may emotionally/rationally disagree with.
Remember that in the text of the treaty MEPS will by Binding law which this treaty is, not be subject to any form of investigation on how they vote. (What if certain MEPS were bribed by Companies to vote a certain way?).

We will loose our energy veto by 2014, Info from referendum commision. So our hope of green energy could be capped just like the fishing industry - let alone our gas and oil.

For me two good reasons to VOte NO.

author by Moaning Minniepublication date Sun Sep 27, 2009 21:48author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Coir, Declan Ganley are all labelled by the Pro Lisbon organisations as facists. In the words of he inimitable Dr.Phil "there's something about you I don't like about myself" - the only facist like behaviour i saw recently was the organised swamping of Ganley's poster campaign launch by Big Business Pro Treaty campaigners.

author by Eillerspublication date Sun Sep 27, 2009 22:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Let Barosso and Sarkosy speak for themselves! You decide what you want

Related Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ib3QSZsmFg&feature=related
author by paul dublin4publication date Mon Sep 28, 2009 19:25author address author phone Report this post to the editors

European bank loan is good for GERMANY rather then Ireland
RE the recent media appearances by NO to Lisbon campaigners, so you can answer them about this next time,
It is often forgotten that the ECB loan,
allowing banks to stay afloat,
is there to allow for the main debts to GERMAN institutions to be paid off (see the bank debt listings),
while supposedly being an example of “how the EU is good for IRELAND”

That is alao a main reason why the EU opposes Irish nationalisation and the debt cancelling that is likely to then be involved...

author by J Bloggspublication date Wed Sep 30, 2009 12:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Forget the fear-mongering, forget short-term thinking, here's the real question(s) that need to be answered:

"Why is the EU so afraid to let people vote on the Lisbon Treaty if it's so beneficial to everyone? Wouldn't they rather have a strong EU with the people behind them? Aren't they pro-democracy?"

I would humbly ask you to please vote "No", for all our sakes! If, for nothing else, the fact that this is an insult to democracy, freedom and to all the folks who have died in protecting these ideals. No one else in the rest of Europe (400+ million) had a say in this.

I'm all for a united Europe, but one where the peoples voices are heard and respected - where there is transparency and accountability - not one of arrogance and contempt where they make you 'vote again' until you get it right.

If that's what the EU wants to become, just another unaccountable layer of bureaucracy - then count me out.

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