Never mind the Lisbon text, feel the width of the political leader?

Iain Dale has the text of an Irish Daily Mail piece (David at P.ie has scans of the original) outing a rather embarrassing email for the Irish Government. It outlines details of of a briefing to the British Embassy in Dublin, on how the government was planning to play down difficult European issues, and spin the wrong date for the referendum:

The memo details plans to fool campaigners over the date, which has been widely touted as falling on June 12. The memo states: ‘Irish have picked 29 May for voting but will delay an announcement to keep the no camp guessing… the Taoiseach and Ahern saw a slight advantage in keeping the no camp guessing.’

That seems like an extraordinary hammer to crack an egg. Open Europe (via John) has the full draft of the leaked email:

Irish have picked May 29 for voting but will delay an announcement to keep the no camp guessing (please protect). DFA’s EU director gives us referendum timetable and details of the bill, to be published next week. Aim is to focus the campaign on overall benefits of EU rather than the treaty itself. Concern about the potential impact of a WTO deal and of
Sarkozy.

The draft, largely incomprehensible to the lay reader, had been agreed following lengthy consultation with government lawyers and with the political parties.

The bill would enter parliament in the second week of April and it would probably take two weeks to go through and be passed around 22 April. The minister for the environment would thus be entitled to set an order naming the date for the referendum between 30 to 90 days of the order being made. Technically, the Taoiseach and Ahern saw a slight advantage in keeping the no campaign guessing. 29 May was the assumed date in working plans.

Mulhall said a date in October would have been easier from a procedural point of view. But the risk of unhelpful developments during the French presidency – particularly related to EU defence – were just too great. Sarkozy was completely unpredictable. The only other unhelpful event the Irish thought might impact on the May vote would be a WTO deal based on agricultural concessions that could lead the powerful farming association to withdraw its support.

I ran through the UK parliamentary ratification timetable and noted that the refernedum vote on 5 March would be a particularly sensitive moment. Mulhall remarked that the media had been relatively quiet on the ratification process so far. We would need to remain in close touch given the media crossover.

Mulhall said other partners – including the Commission – were playing a helpful, low-profile role. Vice-president Margot Wallstrom, who had been in Dublin yesterday and today, had told Dermot Ahern that the Commission was willing to tone down or delay messages that might be unhelpful.

??? ??? ???…so Irish thought treaty was taken for granted…… David Miliband not going

Most people would not have time to study the text and would go with the politicians they trusted.

Machiavellian? Yes, no doubt. Nice is no doubt biting at the back of the Taoiseach’s mind. Lisbon is, in some ways, his baby (albeit given away for adoption as Treaty as opposed to a constitution).

But this unwillingness to honestly test the legislation with the public is not good for public confidence in government or, indeed, in the more distant institutions of the European Union. Last word to Mary Lou McDonald:

“To date there has been a lot of bluster from the yes side but little real information about the Treaty. The government has yet to set out in concrete terms why they believe the Lisbon Treaty is a good thing for Ireland. This Treaty is not about our membership of the EU. Our position in the EU is secure and will continue to be. What the electorate has to decide is whether the Lisbon Treaty is in Ireland’s interests.

Well, second last. Check out the national forum on Europe’s YouTube site

  • DC

    Oh right, the Irish Daily Mail, for a moment there I though there might be something in it, but still nice work nonetheless. Anything that gets Iain Dale excited reference Irish interests should only really act as a positive spur on the Irish people to do to exactly the opposite as anything intimated by him.

    The Irish must be doing something both politcally and culturally correct then if it gets that Tory blog worked up. Nothing worse than a lessening of British sovereignty to Europe against Tory wishes, hence the European Army leader in order to get the Irish panicked. Better a European army than US and British backed crusade against who knows next. When the Tories are lobbying the Irish in such a unique way the Irish are doing good, keep it up FF et al!

  • Pete Baker

    They’ll [the Irish Government] choose a date that is most advantageous to their preferred ‘Yes’ vote. That’s not a surprise.

    “Ireland is the only EU state which is allowing voters a say on the treaty, and European heads of state are terrified that they will reject the treaty”

    Should read, Ireland is the only EU state which must allow voters a say by way of a referendum, according to its constitution.

    Personally, I’m neither for nor against the Lisbon Treaty at this point. But the nay-sayers [Irish Daily Mail] are a bit hysterical for my liking.

  • Anyone who votes for this wretched document is pissing away Irish sovereignty and signing us up to a federal European Superstate. I’ve been saying it for years and have witnessed every autocratic measure Brussels has been making.

    They are not democratic as evidenced by how they ignored the original Nice Treaty referendum result and how they ignored the wishes of the French and Dutch voters who told them where they could stick their EU Constitution.

    “Oh but the economic benefits blah, blah, blah” the lemmings will scream. Yes and I’m sure Judas told his wife the same thing.

    “You sold out your principles and everything you ever believed in, Judas?”

    “Yeah but honey look at all this silver. Think of the economic benefits.”

    Not in my name anyway…

  • Shore Road Resident

    Looks like this is going to mirror the conversation on politics.ie, where the Shinners have discovered that they hate the “British Daily Mail” far more than they hate the Lisbon treaty.

  • Brian Boru

    That the govt is choosing to campaign on the basis of the benefits of EU membership rather than of the benefits or otherwise of the Treaty betrays the fact that so much is being given away in the Treaty and that its contents are actually almost indefensible. While pro-EU, I cannot vote to force on the electorates of France and Holland a document 95% the same (admitted by Bertie) to the EU Constitution that they rejected. Furthermore the loss of the 68 national vetoes, provisions for further extension of QMV without a new treaty being needed, as well as the role given to the ECJ on asylum and industrial relations and the mutual-defence pact, not to mention the swords of damocles Article 48 holds over our right to future EU referenda, make the only option a No vote.

  • Charles in Texas

    Only could Lisbon get me to agree with United Irelander, but I agree with his post 100%. It seems to me from my far off position that Eire, having just extracted herself from an Emipire last century, would be be very wary of being tricked into another one this century.

    Ireland is in a unique position to have it’s people give a yea or nay on Lisbon. If I were a voter there, I would be really angry at the Taoiseach’s manoeuvres.

  • Jimmy

    It does not surprise me that the Euro Fanatics would employ these methods of sculduggery. I mean isnt the Government suppossed to be impartial? the public decides on balanced opinion etc? after NICE 1 and 2 it doesnt matter about a referendum it will be simply ignored anyway.(Do people remember this?) seems it has been conveinantly forgotten.
    Does not surprise me in the least that the Irish branch of the EU politboro are using underhand tactics Eire cannot survive on its own finacially-economically, it found that out when it left the empire 87 years ago (re: Charles-in-Texas) thats why it is such an enthusiastic proponent of the EU and will defend that economic success vigourously even to point of using underhand tactics to get its prefered outcome. Democratic Dictatorship????? who knows.

  • > after NICE 1 and 2 it doesnt matter about a referendum it will be simply ignored anyway.

    We voted against it, it didn’t go through. We voted for it, it went through. Seems pretty straightforward to me.

  • Jimmy

    Then I guess its ok to ignore an initial ‘democratic’ decision to favour a better outcome?
    Sure when the next general election comes round and if Brian Cowan losses sure that will be ok to ignore and the election run again to gain the correct result!!
    Can no one see the Democratic deficit with the NICE referendum fiasco and the EU Junta in leinster house?
    Am I the last person who believes in practical democracy in Ireland?

  • Wilde Rover

    “Am I the last person who believes in practical democracy in Ireland?”

    Yes Jimmy, yes you are.

    You seem to be under the illusion that what the people of Europe think really matters. This is not a bottom-up process. This is a process where the groupings at the top dictate the agenda to the masses.

    You see Jimmy, the average man and woman on the street is a bit thick and prone to making terrible decisions. That is why it is imperative that they are encouraged not to make bad decisions wherever possible.

    The classic example is where the Irish electorate got uppity and actually believed the hype about the ordinary people making decisions about the future of Europe. Clearly, there is a right answer and a wrong answer. In the first Nice Treaty the Irish electorate discovered that the wrong answer is No.

    The knuckle-dragging morons were able to raise their consciousness high enough in the second Nice Treaty referendum to give the correct answer.

    Ditto the referenda over the European Constitution in France and the Netherlands in 2005. They gave wrong answer.

    Now our benevolent betters have had to dress up a constitution with this whole Lisbon business just to keep the peasants from mouthing off again. Honestly, no one thinks about the pressure the important people are under.

    But don’t worry Jimmy you won’t have to worry about it for much longer. Some day you will be able to shut your mouth and not have to think while the Alphas and Betas do all the thinking for you.

  • Dave

    For a people who are supposed to be cynical about politicians, the Irish have unshakeable blind faith in the integrity of the quislings they elect even when they are openly conspiring with other countries to strip them of their national sovereignty and with it their right to determine their own future as a people – and all done within 100 years of securing sovereignty, independence, democracy and self-determination.