Lisbon Essay (8): The deadening paradoxes of the Lisbon debate…

Last one of the week is from our own Brian Walker who lays out an interesting historical perspective on the matter that too often dares not speak its own name on the Yes side of this debate. The vexed issue of Irish sovereignty. It’s a far from trivial concern, as Joe Higgins laid out in Lisbon Essay 4, but Walker notes “…supremacy, like sovereignty, does not carry through into all levels of everything”. Instead he predicts the problem the European Union faces in the future will be paralysis, not “dictatorship of the majority”.

By Brian Walker

“Legally at war but skulking” was Churchill’s verdict on Irish neutrality. By which he meant, if anything, that the Crown was indivisible, the Crown was still part of the Irish constitution, so Eire was legally at war. Only it wasn’t.

Before some of you have apoplexy, remember that Churchill’s little fancy was never put to the test. That’s often the thing with constitutions. Another problem is that often within them lies what I call the deadening paradox.

The Crown or not the Crown. And now a European super State or the Nation State forever. The paradox is that of the apparently stark choice that matters less than the theocrats think.

On the one hand, the European institutions have carefully defined supremacy, like the Court for instance. And then there’s the non EU European Court of Human Rights. They are superior to the new UK Supreme Court. But supremacy, like sovereignty, does not carry through into all levels of everything.

In practice, the Supreme Court will judiciously enforce EU law and the Courts in Luxembourg and Strasbourg will be slow to override – partly because they’re overloaded anyway. That is how real institutions work.

More qualified majority voting but as much consensus as possible before the vote. The likely problem here will be continuing paralysis, not the dictatorship of the majority. Supremacy requires greater subsidiary too, (another paradox).

That means the delegation of powers to the lowest possible level, grabbed most of the time not by Regions but by Nations. Because the nation States call the final shots.

The deadening paradox appeals to the theocrats who infest websites, frightens the vulnerable with tales of nonsense but unfortunately bores the arse off people of good sense.

Why does this happen? Because there is no real European “demos,” no sentimental warm home to thrash these things out together. That’s why the Lisbon Treaty cannot over rule national wills, whatever the conspiracy theorists tell you.

And so the Treaty will increase qualified majority voting , but leave the real power with the enhanced number of nation States. Do you seriously think that 27 States are going to be pushed around by a Brussels bureaucracy or the old Franco-German axis? Real politics, not paper tigers, rule. Ireland is not alone – unless she takes the mother of all hissy fits.

In Lisbon Essay 6 Brian Crowe apparently agree with much of this but opts for the non sequitur of a No vote and hurls himself off the cliff hand in hand with G Adams.
As for the theocrats who scream “ sacrilege” at being asked to Vote Again, somebody should tell them that the future is continuous and will always sweep away the cracked dam against the flood. Vote Yes is such a no brainer.

That’s all for this week. Next week we’ll have essays from Sinn Fein’s Eoin O’Broin and Senator Paschal Donohoe, who takes issue with Stephen Kinsella’s assertion in Lisbon Essay 5 that the economy has nothing to do with Lisbon…

You can pick up the whole series here.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty