Nigel Farage of UKIP has spent a lot of the last week trying to make up for something of deficit in credible speakers on the No side of the Argument. The UKIP leader here argues that the Irish people wider responsibilities than just their own futures. With less than 1% of the European Union’s population Ireland is only country that’s allowed a free vote on whether Lisbon goes ahead or not, and offers substantial evidence that a second No vote would effectively kill it off for good. If Ireland says no, then the UK will follow suit and Lisbon is dead.
By Nigel Farage
The second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty is, of course entirely an Irish matter. Any intervention from a foreigner, particular a foreigner of a peculiarly ‘home-counties’ disposition, pin-striped and so on, English type to boot must be a disaster for any partisan of either side. Or so the Irish media promoted myth goes.
So why the devil am I getting involved? What on earth am I doing popping up on RTÉ, skewering (well something like that according to commentators on politics.ie) Dick Roche in debate in Dublin and talking to the various Irish mainstream press.
I am still waiting for a call from the Skibbereen Eagle, but I can assure you that if they were to call I would be happy to talk to them.
Because the idea that what happens in Ireland is of interest to nobody else is just not true. Firstly the proverbial luck of the Irish means that on October the 2nd they will not just be voting on their own future as a nation, but also as proxies for half a billion Europeans.
According to the latest figures, the Republic currently makes up less than 1% of the population of the EU. As the only country where the people have a say about the way in which we will all be governed each and every vote posted next month can be multiplied a hundredfold.
Think about that. 99% of the population of this EU, this prison of nations have been effectively disenfranchised. And they, and we and I look toward Ireland as a beacon of hope.
Remember that Ireland has acted as our saviour before. It was Ireland that kept alive the standard of Western civilisation whilst all else was crushed under the barbarian yoke. So the burden placed upon the country is one that it is well equipped to take up.
And what a burden. Brian Cowen spoke last week about rather menacing “consequences”. Though he did not spell them out he vaguely referred to further loans from the ECB and the money market being under threat.
Then there was Margot Wallstrom, self described “propaganda Commissioner” in Dublin on Friday making people’s flesh creep with references to Iceland’s economic collapse.
The employers federation IBEC are claiming that exports will collapse if there is a ‘No’ vote. Even Seamus Heaney weighed in this weekend, “will have lost ourselves in the modern world”, Europe he said was “more than a bureaucracy, it’s an ideal”.
What patent twaddle. All those threats, all those pious niceties were thrown around last time and they were as meaningless then as they are now.
Has Ireland been discriminated against? No, of course not. Perhaps we can forgive the laureates’ idealism. But the rest of them are downright dishonest.
A counter viewpoint to these heralds of doom can be seen in the FT where one of their key European commentators, a true EU believer Wolfgang Munchau, only yesterday:
“Last year, after a first referendum produced an overwhelming No, I argued in a series of columns that a definite rejection of the treaty would effectively strike that country off the political and economic map. I no longer believe that to be the case. If the Irish vote No, I now believe it will be the end of the treaty, not of Ireland”.
So the people of Ireland should be of good heart. The wave of gratitude across the continent that followed the previous rejection was palpable. Oh, no, not in the political classes, the one’s who talk of a ‘post-democratic society’, no they will be livid, but amongst the peoples of Europe. My post box last year is a testament to that.
But of course a ‘No’ vote would not just a moral victory, a ‘damn you all we will do what we believe to be right for ourselves’, and none shall gainsay us’ an attitude of mind well shared this side of the Irish sea, but also of enormous an immediate practical import.
If Ireland votes ‘No’, then the UK will have the chance to vote, and we know that she will vote ‘No’. And if that happens then the cloistered Eurocrats, the head in the sky idealists, and the invisible political elite that have the temerity to tell us what is in our best interest, rather than allowing us to speak for ourselves will have to address the key issue facing our continent.
What is it that the people want? Because, from all accounts, and nearly all fair votes, the current EU is surely not it.
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