The NO campaign and its counsel of despair?

On Lisbon, Ciaran takes issue with John Maguire’s passionate espousal of ‘popular sovereignty’. In the course of his argument Maguire asserts that “a well-functioning polity depends on trust, to be earned by representatives from citizens, and not vice versa.” Well, yes. But then surely that’s precisely what the electorate do every time there’s a general election? Ciaran:

I don’t see how it’s ‘perverse’ to say that some decisions are better left to the people we hire to make them. Sneering at that idea undermines the whole notion of representative democracy. We hire politicians to represent and it’s a worrying sign that we then resent them doing that when they have the time (and at least some have the experience) to figure out what’s in the national interest and what’s not.

If we don’t like that, we at least have to recognise that, while questions that can be synopsised as ‘do you want divorce?’ are worth asking, the message of the poll seems to be that several hundred pages revising and updating half a century’s treaties is not amenable to asking a yes-no opinion of people who are not trained treaty-readers. It’s not elitism to say that people didn’t understand what they were being asked: it’s what over 40% of them told the pollsters (and that’s not counting the 4% who thought we were voting on losing a commissioner etc).

He goes on to take issue with my own contention over at Brassneck that the NO campaign got people to look more closely at the document:

The no campaign was obviously successful but in Sinn Féin’s case some of their and-a-pony wishlist reveals that they either don’t understand the treaty themselves or don’t care what’s in it. Libertas barely stayed this side of disingenuous (not that the government was much better). Their success was not in ‘prompting people to look more closely at the document’ but in encouraging people to despair of the whole thing. [emphasis added]

If Bruno Waterfield (via Gavin) is right, then we’re off for another ‘spin’ next Spring.

There is no alternative for the government now, but to engage directly with the electorate and make a case. And above all engage with the doubts and the doubters. The EU’s haughty view that some how British owned Irish titles and an unregulated blogosphere (though I suspect they have Politics.ie in mind rather than us rag tag army disparate of bloggers) is not only wrong headed, it misses the point by an Irish country mile.

Years ago, as part of a research project of the Wellcome Trust I interviewed a Vice President of a major oil corporation o how they deal with complex technological and environmental issues in an often febrile and mistrusting public domain. His answer was that that they had more often got it wrong than right. And, he observed that the world has changed from a ‘tell me’ to a ‘show me’ paradigm. There is no alternative to robust public engagement.

As Quintin Oliver pointed out the morning after last June’s debacle, the government will need to be well ahead on numbers before the campaign begins, because No campaigns always eat away at public confidence no matter what the question. So expect the work to begin long before any referendum is announced. Ciaran reckons that the various questions should be disaggregated:

The only way I can see us doing this by referendum properly is to take each stage of a treaty like Lisbon and ask an individual question for each one, or at least for each one that contravenes Crotty (as in, involves a transfer of sovereignty). Imagine: a couple of hundred referendums in one day. Or we could isolate the sovereignty transfer stuff, argue about that and vote on it clause by clause. The polity as committee system. Trés democratic!

But it won’t be easy from the NO campaign’s point of view either. Several of their campaign talking points will not feature this time, because they’re either irrelevant to the question, or may turn out in a competitive campaign not be quite what voters thought they were. And they will have lost the element of surprise. Some are resorting, even now, to the power of prayer.

The real question that arises for me is not which way will Lisbon II go, but what can be done about the poverty of public debate in the Republic, particularly beyond the spods inside the Leinster House bubble.

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  • Brian Walker

    In Ireland from time to time, a clash arises from the natural tension between direct democracy and the legal constitution – a referendum – and representative democracy – the Oireactas. In theory, it’s a balanced constitution; in practice, its a new game every time. The result of the Treaty referendum was a terrific slap in the face to the inter-party (very little ideological difference) and intra- party (STV in multi-member constituencies) systems, where most real contention is within the party, and therefore usually, unheard by the public. This all but guarantees the poor level of debate Mick rightly complains of and which was starkly revealed in the appallingly complacent referendum campaign.

    The poor quality of debate also compromises the referendum system itself as seen in say, the abortion issue. The apparent double lock on abortion from two referendums may not prevent some reform by the courts, in that case via the European Convention Human Rights (ECHR).This again will catch the parties on the hop. They have been most unwise to be largely blind to the development of a rights culture, which is featuring more and more in Ireland but is mainly of interest to minority parties like Sinn Fein, because they lack political power. In fact Ireland like most democracies is moving to a more mixed political system. It’s up to the politicians and ultimately the people to decide where the balance lies. If things go on as they are, the result, as disillusion with politics increases, is that the political system will fall more and more prey to campaigns and single issue politics, thus undermining the entire political system itself if great care is not taken to repair it. People like those in the thread below who argue that this is only the EU’s problem not Ireland’s have their heads in the sand. The political establishment have less than a year to sort it out.

  • RepublicanStones

    Mick and Brian, don’t forget that Lisbon fatigue also feeds into the lack of debate down here surrounding the treaty. Many people are up to their back teeth with hearing about Lisbon, particularly since it seems evident that the people have spoken but the people obliged to deliver this message to Europe seem not to have heard.

    One question does arise, if the YES campaign had been successful, would the No camp have gotten a second chance at running their campaign in the manner in which seems likely for the YES boyos?
    I think we know the answer, once again that old Henry Ford quote comes to mind…..

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    The plain people of Ireland dont like it based on what they currently understand of it – if it is simplified so that they can understand it a bit more they will like it even less.

    But threats of isolation from the civilised world and warnings of recession might just do the trick.

  • “the spods inside the Leinster House bubble.”

    [aside]Will the spods be tracking Gerry Adams? According to the Grapevine, the President paid an official visit to Rathlin this morning. Perhaps he had tea with Doc Martin ….

  • Dave

    Brian, alleging ‘poor quality of debate’ and citing it as a reason why the result of a democratic poll should be set aside shows that you have a very poor grasp of democratic principles. Unless the poll was rigged, there are no valid grounds to disregard the result of it.

    That ‘poor quality of debate’ applies equally to all elections where the public doesn’t read the party manifestoes, and votes on a plethora of issues that are unrelated to the election… such as which TD or MP secured granny’s pension and which party their parents voted for. The difference is that the losing political parties don’t demand that the election is re-run until they are elected, and only until they are elected. That is the EU’s dismal brand of democracy, and a good example of how the EU integrationist project has perverted the concept of democracy among countries in Europe and respect for it.

    Unless you subject each voter to an IQ test to ensure that he or she is mentally competent to vote and subject them to a detailed questionnaire and a lie detector test to ensure that they properly understood all the issues, you can never claim that any election is run to the standard that the EU demands (which is flooding the country with propaganda an threats to ensure the terrified plebs vote according to its will rather than their own).

    The treasonous quisling who is colluding with the federalists of Europe to encourage the Irish people to transfer the sovereign powers of their democracy to those who have only blatant contempt for democracy, Brian Cowen, has admitted that he has not read the Lisbon Treaty and therefore could not have understood it.

    The people, on the other hand, understood that we joined a common market and not a common country, and that this treaty transfers a vast array of the state’s sovereignty from the control of the people to those who are not elected by the people, and they refused it. As the EU is continuing to implement proposals that have no legal basis without ratification of the treaty, it is acting contrary to its own regulations and is acting contrary to the will of the Irish. We cannot now remain in the EU when the people have rejected what the EU is continuing to implement. To do so would further devalue our democracy.

  • Dave

    By the way, Mick, why don’t you report some of the sordid reality about the EU rather than presenting it as some sort of noble project that only the contrary could object to?

    Your colleague over at Telegragh Blogs has a story you should be interested in: How the EU plans to regulate blogs

  • Oilifear

    “He goes on to take issue with my own contention over at Brassneck that the NO campaign got people to look more closely at the document …”

    As would I. The existence of debate may have driven some people to read the document (myself included), but the No campaign, if anything, discouraged people from reading it. “It’s unreadable”, they said. “Ordinary people cannot understand it”, they said. “Impenetrable legalese”, the said. Well this ordinary person could read it and found it to be quite open, clear and understandable – though I have no doubt that others were put off from doing so because of comments.

    If the No campaign had driven people to read it then unfounded fears about conscripted sons, imprisoned three-year olds and euthanatized parents would not have motivated people to vote No. If the No campaign had driven people to read it then 42% of No voters would not have done so because they didn’t know what it was about.

    “There is no alternative to robust public engagement.”

    Yes and that is where the government failed, not where the No campaign succeeded. It was not until the Tuesday before the referendum that we got any robust public engagement from the government. It was not until after that we got robust public exchange in general. Though disingenuous spin, scare mongering and at times out-right lies, the No campaign, if anything, fostered a culture that was counter-productive to robust public engagements.

    “Several of their campaign talking points will not feature this time, because they’re either irrelevant to the question, or may turn out in a competitive campaign not be quite what voters thought they were.”

    They were irreverent to the question before as well. Nothing has changed. It’s easy to make declarations about neutrality, fiscal unanimity and abortion. They didn’t figure in the treaty to begin with.

    If reports are to be believed, what we are getting this time around is the same treaty, but with an agreement not to cut the number of commissioners come 2014 – as the Council might well have decided anyway, if it had been passed the first time around.

    “The real question that arises for me is not which way will Lisbon II go, but what can be done about the poverty of public debate in the Republic, particularly beyond the spods inside the Leinster House bubble.”

    Yes, and a question has been raised about the same lack of debate and genuine engagement between the EU and it citizens too. How could something that has been so good to the Republic – something that so many people in the Republic are so supportive of – be so easily be presented as something to be feared to the Irish populous? How feeble is the EU in it’s ability to engage truly with it citizens – even those that are it’s most adoring!

  • dub

    Behind the phrase “poor quality of public debate in the republic” seems to lie, to me at least, a barely concealed contempt for participative democracy. Remember, Ireland was the only state whose legal system required a vote on this treaty. Seems to me you should be looking at the poor democratic institutional arrangements of the other EU states, not pouring scorn on the irish public’s decision. Ireland is probably the most democratic state in Europe. Sorry this bothers you. Maybe we should grow up and revert to monarchical feudalism.

  • Dave

    By the way, Mick, why don’t you report some of the sordid reality about this dismal EU project rather than presenting it as some sort of noble project that only the contrary could object to?

    Your colleague over at Telegraph Blogs has a story that you should be interested in:
    How the EU plans to regulate blogs

  • Dave

    Err, sorry for the double post!

  • Oilifear

    “… a story you should be interested in: How the EU plans to regulate blogs …”

    And “story” is the right word for it. Clarifying the legal status of blogs (e.g. are blog authors protected by laws that protect mainstream journalists from prosecution?) is not regulation.

    More unfounded paranoia from the “quisling” crowd, I’m afraid, Dave.

  • Brian Walker

    dave and dub.. the violence of dave’s language conceals a reasonable case, that a referendum verdict should stand. In practice though governments return to a subject when circumstances change, as twice more over abortion and most memorably over Arts 2 and 3 (although there was quite a time lag there). I believe it would be perverse for the Irish government not to go back to the people on a matter of prime national interest after concessions have been offered.What you think of those concessions is a matter for your vote, not whether a second referendum should be held. I don’t see how any fundamental principle has been breached. Democratic verdicts aren’t for ever. To make them so would be undemocratic. And this time, particularly since the Nice reversal, if Cowen has got public opinion wrong again, he’ll pay the democratic price.

  • Mick

    dub,

    What you see as contempt is in fact a reaction to the fact that 42% of the people who voted NO professed not to understand the question or thoght it too complex to give their approval. Don’t you think that is shocking? I’m not blaming the people or the process but (ultimately) the government.

    Direct democracy I think you mean. Representative democracy is already participative. There is an almost irresolvable tension between the two, but that is not necessarily a bad thing in and off itself. The people vote for a political elite to make a bunch of executive decisions on their behalf for a set term. And under the Republic’s Constitution, they have to get some of that policy approved by the people in plenary. Where exactly did I criticise that?

    Rather I put the blame on the Government, for not investing in a policy it would have to run risk of being blown out of the water. As Ciaran argues that may be profoundly unfair on the political parties since they have to compete against opponents who are not regulated by the state on how much they can spend.

    Brian’s point on the tendency of STV to atomise and focus on policy is a problem is valid one. It’s why the Republic’s politicians tend to do large cartoon-like double takes when something is discovered to have gone wrong: like the sudden curbing of government spending, or the the scandal of the cost of the Luas when and only when it gets delivered.

    TD’s have to spend their time in their constituencies to guard their quotas in the next election, rather than in Dublin honing their skills as lawmakers. So, as I understand it, do MLAs, though clearly the huge number of them the relatively limited powers they hold in plenary means there are other reasons for that.

  • Dave

    “What you see as contempt is in fact a reaction to the fact that 42% of the people who voted NO professed not to understand the question or thoght it too complex to give their approval. Don’t you think that is shocking? I’m not blaming the people or the process but (ultimately) the government.” – Mick

    No, I think that the EU organised a campaign that was based on obfuscating the treaty so that they could justify not presenting a document that alters the fundamental rights of the people to the people for their approval, thereby establishing a very dangerous precedent whereby the state tells the people what their fundamental rights are and blurring all constitutional safeguards which ensure that it never the business of that state to interfere in fundamental political, civil, political and constitutional rights. This was the stated policy of the authors of this rehashed Constitutional Treaty.

    Do you think it is shocking that people didn’t understand the detail of a treaty that didn’t contain any details but contained a lot of cross-referenced gibberish that was cross-referenced to documents that were not supplied for the purpose of evaluating their meaning and, indeed, required people to endorse a blank cheque wherein the missing (but vital) details would be determined by the ECJ and were unknown to anyone since they hadn’t been determined yet? The leader of the Irish Europhiles, Brian Cowen, is among those who didn’t understand the treaty but his excuse was that he didn’t bother his fat arse to read it, so those who voted yes did so out of the same ignorance.

    Mick, I think you are too intelligent to believe that this disregard for the results of a democratic poll meets any criteria that merit it being set aside. Indeed, if you even had a case for why the poll should be set aside instead of a mouthful of propaganda that was supplied to you by Europhiles, you’d be in the Irish Supreme Court presented it to the relevant authority. You have no case and you well know it.

    Will you repeat this garbage if a second poll is rerun that returns an outcome that is acceptable to Europhiles or will you be satisfied that the Treaty wasn’t any more knowable because it is exactly the same gibberish but keep your mouth shut about people not understanding it, making no demands that the pro-EU result be set aside and the poll re-run until the falsely claimed pretext of your objection for the first result (a detailed questionnaire and an IQ test of each voter along with a lie detector test to ensure that they properly understood the treaty) is satisfied. You know as well as everyone else knows that once a yes vote is returned, there will be no demands for a third poll and no objections based on the treaty’s incomprehensibility. In fact, the EU will praise the outcome and declare itself satisfied that a fair campaign was run and that wisdom prevailed. Who are you even trying to kid by pretending otherwise?

    If this poll is rerun, let us make sure that people properly understand the sovereign powers that they are being asked to surrender and to understand that there is no mechanism to reclaim those sovereign powers. If they want to sell their country to others and look a shower of wankers commemorating the centenary of 1916 when they have managed to give away the sovereignty, independence and democratic powers of the people within 100 years of reclaiming them from others, then let them do it knowing exactly what they are doing rather trying to censor the debate so that they haven’t a clue what they are doing, supposing only that being a member of the EU seems to have been okay for Irish roads and a few farmers if nothing else. For a start, tell the truth about why they had rapid house price inflation due to membership of the Eurozone and that they have now ruined their economy thanks to surrendering sovereignty over their monetary policy to the EU, and explain to them what happens when you give control of what are properly your sovereign affairs to others. Let’s also expalin what democracy means about how the EU goes about the business of perverting it, etc.

  • The contention that only politicians are intelligent enough to make decisions on international treaties is elitist and dangerous. In June 1800, the Irish Parliament voted for the Act of Union. In June 2008, the Irish people said no to the Act of Union 2008, that would likewise have trapped Ireland in an empire with an unelected govt (Commission) and Supreme Court (ECJ via the Charter of Fundamental Rights) of 27 countries (and more in the future). I did understand what I was voting against, and I resent how the political elite are treating the no vote as a problem to be solved or gotten around rather than as a verdict that must be respected. No means no, and the elite have no moral right to seek to ratify in the Dail that which the people have rejected – and that means the entire contents of Lisbon. If they want to put a different proposal to us next year with optouts or other changes, then fair enough. But at the end of the day we will not accept them pulling a fast one like the French and Dutch govts did when their electorates gave ‘the wrong answer’. Since 1937, we have had a Constitution that states (Article 5) that the Irish people have a right to self-determination. The Constitution also states that at the end of the day, relations with other states is for the people of Ireland to decide. Unlike the 1922 Constitution, the govt has not had, since 1937, the power to amend the Irish Constitution without gaining approval to do so from the Irish people in a referendum. The Crotty Judgement 1987 made clear that the lithmus test for the requirement of referenda on EU treaties was whether they changes the ‘scope or objectives’ of the Union. I believe as a consequence, that taken with the aforementioned Article 5, in which the Irish people exercised their right to self-determination to say no to the Treaty in its entirety, that it will be not only morally but also constitutionally repugnant to seek the legislative route to ratification in the absence of another referendum, and I urge the Irish people, like myself, to exercise their franchise to elect anti-Lisbon candidates in the next Euro elections in 2009, to assist the hearing-difficulties our elite seem to have with respect to the word “no”.

  • Dave

    Excellent post, FT. You have my vote.

    By the way, Mick, just to add to my post above on your comment that you are “blaming the people or the process but (ultimately) the government.”

    Have you ever heard of the Referendum Commission? It is the independent body established by government under the powers of the Referendum Act, 1994. It was that Commission that was responsible for putting forward the pros and cons of the Lisbon Treaty in an impartial manner. If you think they made a hash of it, then I suggest that you take it up with the chairman of that Commission, High Court judge, Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill, who was appointed to that position by the Chief Justice, John Murray.

    Ask them if they believe there are any valid grounds to nullify the result of a free and fair referendum resulting from their conduct of the campaign. I suspect that they will inform you that there are no grounds to void the result and rerun the poll whatsoever, and that if you disagree, to prepare your case and take it to the relevant Court.

    What you are seeing here is the Robert Mugabe School of Democracy that is promoted among western democracies by the corrupting influence of Europhiles: if you don’t like the result, find some pretext to claim it isn’t valid the people vote again until they vote the way you instruct them to vote.

    If you think that is an acceptable form of democracy, then you are badly mistaken – just another victim of those who have degraded the concept of democracy within European countries to the point where it is indistinguishable for ‘soft’ totalitarianism. Those who value democracy need to resist this systematic perversion of it, not act as self-appointed apologists for it.

  • Dave

    Typo: “…if you don’t like the result, then find some pretext to claim that it isn’t valid, and make the people vote again until they vote the way you instruct them to vote.”

  • Is it just me, or are the pro-EU people being rather coy about what sort of an EU they want? Is it supposed to be a federal state? Or a quasi-state with the trappings of one (constitution, president, flag, anthem, supreme court and high representative of foreign ministership or whatever it’s called this time). Or what?

    It’s looking less and less like the economic community we were originally sold.

    And do the federalists view this treaty like Sinn Fein view the Belfast Agreement – a stepping stone to a unified state? If so, when (if ever) is the sensible time to stop drifting down that road?

  • Dave

    They have a constitutionally binding obligation in the Treaty of Rome to seek “ever closer union” between member states. The only logical outworking of “ever closer union” is unity. That is the aim. The Maastricht treaty also serves an integrationist agenda and bills itself as “a new stage in the process of creating an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe.” Transferring competencies to the EU in additional areas such as sport and culture that are unrelated to the original purpose of our joining the Common Market should clue in even the perennially clueless that this dismal organisation is now about creating a common country and it no longer about a common market (not that it was ever necessary to trade sovereignty in order to trade with other countries: it is only necessary not to impose tariffs on those courtiers one wishes to trade freely with).

    To this end, Europhiles do not see the sovereignty of member states as legitimately belonging to those states. Their deranged belief is that those powers belong to the EU and that they must be returned to their rightful owners by all subversive means at their disposal. The Lisbon Treaty is self-amending (see Article 48) and will be the last treaty that the EU ever requires to secure its integrationist agenda. Given that a treaty is international law, if you endorsed this treaty, you would be signing away all rights to your state simply because you have allowed a clause which gives the EU the legal status to amend the treaty as it sees fit.

    A vast array of the sovereign powers that will be transferred to the EU from member states under the Lisbon Treaty are to be determined by a Court that is wholly biased in favour of the integrationist agenda and, indeed, also has a constitutionally binding obligation to further that agenda, favouring the interests of the EU at the direct expense of the interests of its member states.

    As the former German President, Roman Herzog, wrote earlier in the week about why the ECJ is a puppet of the EU:

    “The ECJ is not suitable as a guarantor of subsidiarity and a protector of the member states’ interests. This is not surprising, as first of all, according to Articles 1 and 5 of the EU Treaty, the ECJ is obliged to participate in the “process of creating an ever closer union”. Secondly, an EU-biased jurisdiction of the ECJ leads to the situation that the areas where the ECJ may judge are also growing, thereby displacing member states’ courts, which means that the ECJ is constantly gaining influence. This general tendency is not modified by the occasional deliberately cautious ECJ judgements passed in order to serve as a sedative to the growing resentment of the member states. Against this background and in light of the achieved integration level in the EU, it is absolutely vital that an ECJ independent court for competence issues be set up.”

  • I think your analysis is not unfair, Dave – but I’d like to hear some of the “pro-treaty” campaigners say what THEY think it’s about.

    I have the sneaking suspicion they are being terribly disingenuous about the whole project – but I’d like to hear their argument.

    Ironically, the word to type today is “lack”.

  • Oilifear

    “They have a constitutionally binding obligation in the Treaty of Rome to seek ‘ever closer union’ between member states.”

    As expressed in the third amendment to the Irish constitution. So, it is not Lisbon that you have issue with, but the entire project – and, by implication, the Constitution of Ireland and the express will of the people of Ireland. For someone who takes such grievous offence at the current government “not respecting” that will, I challenge that it is you that does not respect it. 83% of Irish voters stated their wish to form of an ever closer union with the peoples of Europe in 1972. Today, 89% are in favour of it.

    Lisbon would have done little – one way or the other – about that fact, but it would have made great in-roads to democratised institution of Europe – which are now rusting – increased the power of national parliaments to scrutinise and veto EU legistlation and empowered citizens vis-a-vis the institutions of EU.

    “Transferring competencies to the EU in additional areas such as sport and culture …”

    If Lisbon had passed, the EU would have been allowed to play a supporting role in these areas – when explicitly invited to do so, and only at the behest of national parliaments. It would not have had any autonomy to legislate or govern in these areas. You exaggerate greatly in your struggle to make rational argument.

    “… that are unrelated to the original purpose of our joining the Common Market …”

    You mean the original purpose of forming an “ever closer union”? As people of Ireland had voted for by a margin of 83%? As enshrined in the Constitution of Ireland? As the Government is obliged to follow? As the people of Ireland have instructed them to do so?

    “A vast array of the sovereign powers that will be transferred to the EU from member states under the Lisbon Treaty…”

    Ummmm … you listed the would-be new competencies above: the ability to play an assistive role in sport and cultural matters when requested to do so by national parliaments. Not “vast” and not “powerful”. Although by voting no, you denied Dáil Éireann the right to use EU facilities for these matters and it will now have to do without.

  • Oilifear, I’m not old enough to remember the cut and thrust of debate at the time, or what the question on the ballot paper was when it was being decided.

    Can you clarify whether the people in Ireland and the UK were asked whether they wanted to join the European Economic Community, or whether they wanted an ever closer union with Europe?

  • the notion that representative democracy is sufficient here is not credible. Elections are not held for individual TDs solely but also party platforms, so TDs get both personal and party votes. If an election platform/candidate didn’t state “we will ratify Lisbon by Dail vote” then the people didn’t get to judge that by voting for or against.

    There’s a reason we don’t let the Dail amend the Constitution, and Crotty vs An Taoiseach essentially extended those reasons to certain Treaties. Whether Lisbon I/II specifically falls within that ambit is a matter of opinion (I believe it does) but for all treaties which conform to the SEA decision template, the people should retain their right to decide.

  • Oilifear

    “Oilifear, I’m not old enough to remember the cut and thrust of debate at the time, or what the question on the ballot paper was when it was being decided.” – notmyopinion

    Here’s some sample headlines from the Irish Times in the days leading up to the referendum in 1972:

    – Vote To Stay With Europe-Lynch
    – Membership Seen As A Blow To Irish Christianity
    – No Obligations on Defense Says Hillery
    – No Guarantee of Another Chance
    – ‘No’ Would Be No to ‘Shabby Politics’
    – Campaign Recalls Act of Union: Comparisons Suggested
    – Say ‘Yes’ or Face Fight to Survive
    – ‘Disaster’ If Referendum Fails
    – The Way to Loosen Britain’s Grip: MacBride Hopes for Entry
    – Friends Inside – None Without, Ryan Claims
    – Brugha Urges ‘Exercise of Sovereignty’ [by voting no to keep national sovereign]
    – Membership Compared with Act of Union

    As you can see, the issues debated then were (astonishingly) the same as for Lisbon. The idea that the vote in 1972 was for an economic union only is a truly non-starter.