Ireland set to let the UK Conservatives off the hook

The fortunes of the London and Dublin governments continue on parallel lines until we get to the reckoning. Brian Cowen must thank his lucky stars he doesn’t have to go to the polls until 2012, unless the Greens who seem to have been tainted by their coalition partners, quit the government.
The one consolation of the Euro poll is that it looks like Ireland will vote “yes” this time in the autumn referendum and so save the UK Tories from themselves. Although comment is naturally centred on Fianna Fail’s drubbing and Fine Gael’s “historic” emergence as the largest single party, unambiguously pro-Europe forces still score 70% of the Irish vote. Yes, I know referendum voting is different especially at a time of great volatility, but the stalls have been well laid out this time. Mary Lou’s defeat (despite a slight overall increase in SF’s share) will help, as well as giving a crumb of comfort to those who welcome a setback for the only all Ireland party. In the North West, the anti-EU standard bearer Declan Ganley of Libertas has demanded a recount because of suspected human error in placing bundles but his defeat there would reflect Libertas’s failure to break through nationally. In GB, with UKIP forcing Labour into a devastatingly humiliating third place, an anti Europe stampede is not be inconceivable in the present political chaos. For the Conservatives, looking ahead to the UK general election, the immediate message is, as BBC Europe editor Mark Mardell puts it.
Mardell extract

“…it confirms the mood of the British electorate towards the EU. It is also significant in terms of its impact on the Conservatives. It is pretty clear if you compare the local elections with the Euros that the Conservatives lost votes to UKIP. They want those votes back in time for a general election. So if there was ever any argument for them soft-pedalling their hard line on the EU it’s gone. Those who’ve argued for a range of policies, pulling out of the centre-right group, arguing for a referendum, for a new relationship with the EU, will have their hand strengthened.

  • “…and so save the UK Tories from themselves”

    Do you really think the Conservatives will get themselves into a difficult position if they have a referendum which results in “no” to the Lisbon Treaty?

    The Conservatives are well aware that such a scenario will attract criticism, derision, antipathy and contempt from many Europeans in equal measure. However, that is where they want to be.

    Also, dont rule out the Labour Government collapsing before Ireland goes to the polls

  • Wilde Rover

    Brian Walker,

    “the anti-EU standard bearer Declan Ganley”

    I wasn’t aware that not being pro-Lisbon meant you were “anti-EU.”

    Is that the same as calling a midwife a witch, or does your fashion based approach to politics lead you to conclude that his chrome dome is evidence of xenophobia?

  • Framer

    The south has just voted a Militant socialist into Europe, humiliated the Fianna Fail party and elimated the Greens, their coalition partners.

    Why suddenly stop being anti-government at a second Lisbon referendum in a few months?

  • dodrade

    Given the size of the UKIP vote I think it will be quite difficult for the Tories to claim it’s too late to do anything about Lisbon if it’s ratified before the next election. Hague in particular would find it hard to go along with such a line. Surely they could pass a bill suspending the Lisbon Treaty in British law pending a referendum on its repeal?

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    This is the dimmest thing I have ever read. The Tories are *praying* for another Free State No. The last thing Cameron and Hague want to have to do is even inch towards acting out their Eurosceptic noises off. So if, as seems likely, we’ve a Southern yes (naughty, naughty children) this time round, Hague and Cameron are faced with the dreadful question: what now? They’ve managed to go through an entire European election campaign without saying what they would do, which means that they don’t want to say No themselves, let alone see the new UK government have to go through the dreadful and protracted business of trying to renegotiate the Treaty, let alone trying to do so after the fact (ie the UK would, in the event of a Southern Yes, already have fully acceded to the Treaty). After all, if they were up for any of what all that entails, they would alreay have said so. It would have been easy, populist red meat to the actual Eurosceptics in the Party, and it’s the very last quagmire they want to find themselves in, which is precisely why they’ve taken the inglorious path of refusing to say what they’ll do in the event of Lisbon alreayd being UK legal bag and baggage by the time they come into office.

    And I’ll just say that slowly one more time: The Tories painfully want an RoI NO, not a Yes. Tjis solves their problem: a yes makes the entire thing their problem, and theirs alone. This is the last thing Dave ‘progressive’ Cameron wants. As, to again repeat myself, were he up for that, he’d already have bought the cheap right wing kudos saying so would instantly bring.

  • The Tories want an RoI NO, as the commenter above states, as this reduces the cost of renegotiating Lisbon.

    They’re deliberately leaving their position on renegotiation / competence repatriation ambiguous. This wrongfoots the federalists, at very little cost: the only people who care that Hague won’t say what “will not let matters rest there” means are the most obsessive of Eurosceptics. Most people aren’t interested enough in politics to have heard of this issue, and no Westminster seats turn on the votes of the subset of the electorate who have heard about it and care deeply but aren’t bright enough to understand that Hague’s refusal to commit to a position before he needs to may just be tactical.