Friday, October 02, 2009

The Irish Referendum on the Lisbon Treaty

UK politics is probably of greater interest to me than most of the readers of this blog, so I hope I will be forgiven for a brief foray, perhaps because one of the principle players this weekend was very nice about God’s Philosophers.

As you may know, today the Irish voted for the second time on the Lisbon Treaty which stands as a constitution for the European Union (a federal super-state into which the British have been sucked unwillingly by the duplicity of their leaders). The Irish are voting again because during the first referendum they failed to produce the answer that their masters required.

David Cameron, the prospective Prime Minister of the UK, has also promised a referendum after the next election (if he wins it, which he almost certainly will). But if the Lisbon Treaty is ratified before the election, unpicking it becomes very much harder. Many are expecting that the Irish will vote ‘Yes’ and Cameron will then withdraw his own referendum promise. If this happens, it will become known in Conservative Party annals as ‘the Great Betrayal’. Cameron probably knows this which is why there remains hope that he will honour his commitments. But suspicions remain.

This is where the guy who reviewed God’s Philosophers comes in. Daniel Hannan (no relation) is the conscience of David Cameron’s Conservative Party. Whatever compromises Cameron must make to win and keep power, he knows he will maintain the approval of the party base as long as he keeps Hannan onside. Presently, Cameron has Hannan’s unequivocal support. And as long as Hannan says he trusts Cameron to deliver a referendum on Europe, the base will trust him too.

Which is why the most important political blog this weekend is Hannan’s. If Cameron appears to waver on a referendum, watch which way Hannan goes. It will tell you, several years in advance, whether Cameron will ultimately be a successful Prime Minister or spend his entire career fighting with his own party.

Discuss this post at the Quodlibeta Forum


Noons said...

"Duplicity" "Masters" them's fight'n words.

I read some speculation last summer, after the Irish vote, that had there been a similar referendum in Britain, they would have also voted no.

However, I think it would be good for Europe as a whole if they were to adopt a common foreign policy. Would they be able to do that, the EU could rival the US and be a player on the world stage, rather than some of its countries being seen as lackeys for the United States.

James said...

I'm not sure a common foreign policy is a good idea if there is no common ground. What's good for France may not be good for Britain. Far better to make common cause where we agree and not when we don't rather than be forced into a position of having to act against our own interests.

Sceptical Europhil said...

Not clear, James, whether you believe that Britain should leave the EU. If there was a referendum held by the Conservatives and there was a 'no' vote what would be the consequence of that? Clearly Britain could not expect any preferential treatment by the rest of the EU so where would it leave the British? Cameron's position is bizarre. He wants to align with far right parties but still expects to be taken seriously within Europe. So it would be interesting to know what you see as the solution.

Anonymous said...

I wish the irish vote no again. Prolongs the date when my country goes to EU, and I hope it's never.

James said...

Hi Sceptical. Your post is a bit confusing. Of course we can expect preferential treatment: we contribute a huge chunk of the budget and have a big trade deficit with the rest of the EU. We just withhold our budget and empty chair until we get what we want.

Anyway, out is better than the current federal state. But I'd prefer to be in on our own terms. The Tories will get us a far better deal by making clear that they will play hard ball. This contrasts to the abject surrenders of Major and Blair.

sceptical europhil said...

Get real, James! Cameron has already made himself into a joke figure by aligning his MEPs with the weirdos on the right. Do you really think that the other members of the EU who have signed up to Lisbon are going to humour him? And where is there any evidence that Cameron is tough anyway? The British will just end up being the laughing stock of Europe and if Britain did leave the EU, they would have to accept the terms offered them by Europe, not the other way round.

James said...

Hi Sceptical. Well I don't think they'll have any choice but humour him as he will be armed with a democratic mandate and will have his hand on the cash hose tap. Of course we are expecting a lot of flak from the Euro-elites as their bluff is called but no worries. They'll be proved wrong soon enough, or Cameron will be shown to be as unprincipaled as his opponents paint him.

Sceptical E. said...

If Cameron puts a referendum in his manifesto, then he will have to honour it if he is elected and presumably campaign for a 'no'. The no vote will be an uneasy and presumably temporary alliance of UKIP members and those who want to stay in the EU but on a renegotiated basis. He can't afford to alienate the UKIP if he is to win the 'no'. He will have to come clean over where he stands in any future negotiations but with no certainty that the other members of the EU will play ball. If he cuts off the hose, presumably all EU funded projects in Britain will be cancelled too. He will also incur the permanent hostility of the EU from then on with no obvious alternative home. The US will by-pass Britain and isolation will be the result.
I don't have much time for Cameron but I don't think he is that stupid. He has got himself into an impossible position of his own making by promising to be a moderniser on the central ground while he is in hock to the backwoodsmen of his party. It will end in tears - or worse.

James said...

Scep E, as we are net contributors to the EU, we can fund all projects ourselves and still be quids in. Better still we get to decide our own priorities.

Also, it's independence, not isolation that you are threatening us with. Are Australia, Switzerland and Canada isolated (except perhaps physically)?

It's ironic too that the first poster wanted us to stop being US lackeys and you are claiming we'll be 'bypassed' whatever that means. Perhaps it means we don't have to throw our young men to the Taliban. Wouldn't that be good?

Noons said...

Well, acutally, James, funny you should mention the Taliban. As an American, I thought it would be interesting if the European powers were to act as a power with conflicting interests with the US. On the other hand, however, I would like to see the Europeans contributing a little more to Afghanistan. I find it disingenuous when US politicians call something a multinational coalition when we're contributing more troops than the next five countries combined. I'd like it if Merkel could let her country's forces do some more over there, maybe sick ze panzers on the Taliban. That would be a sight to see.

Though back on the EU. My understanding was that Britain always liked being part of it, but at the same time makes an effort to stay at arms length.

sceptical Europhil said...

UKIP is the only party campaigning for Britain to leave the EU so shall we talk about democratic mandates when we see how they do at the next election. James, I don't think you realise how frustrating the British are to the majority of the members of the EU and how little good will there would be in any renegotiation. There would be even less if Britain started financial blackmail.
All will be revealed as events unfold over the next year but I suspect Cameron will find himself in an impossible position for which he is entirely to blame..

Niall said...

The English approach to the EU is a joke. Years of listening to the Little Englanders in the Daily Hate and Murdoch's minions in, well in about 90% of the British media, mean that the average English person seems congenitally incapable of discussing the EU without abandoning logic and speaking as though the EU was the second version of the Spanish Armada.

Ireland voted 'no' the first time because people were confused by the lies spread by elements of the 'No' campaign. The government went to Brussels got some legally binding assurances on some of the key issues (which was easily done since it's not as though the EU was ever going to violate our neutrality or force the introduction of abortion)and then asked the people to vote again.

That's not a conspiracy. It's simple democracy - though probably not the most efficient way to practice it.

constant gina said...

You're right, it's intolerable. This will push some people to declare UDI.

James said...

For the record, Hannan has stayed on side. We'll see what happens if the Czech's cave in.

Niall, are you seriously saying that my views are formed by the Daily Mail (which I never read) and that I can't decide matters for myself. Typical Europhile - they think people are too stupid to make their own minds up.

Best wishes


Niall said...

James, I wasn't speaking of you in particular. What I mean is that the public debate in the UK is set by the media. The language used, the questions asked and the items covered follows the agenda of certain corporations.

In some cases, these companies simply wish to make a profit. And nothing sells like a little xenophobia (See The Sun's coverage of French opposition to the second Iraq war, or any DM article on gypsies, immigrants and the like). In other cases, (e.g. in the case of Murdoch's media empire) hostility to the EU comes from Rupert's political beliefs.

Generations of British people have inherited a volcabulary to be used when discussing the EU that is made up almost entirely of hostile terms.

There is a debate to be had regarding many aspects of the EU, but the possibility of having a realistic and rational debate on the EU in the UK will not be possible so long as one of the main source of the public's information regarding the EU comes from publications like The Sun, The Times and The Daily Mail.

As for whether or not having a referendum is an appropriate way of deciding on an international treaty, I suspect in many cases it's not. If every country in the world had voted on the UN convention on Human Rights, it would never have come to be accepted. A decision by parliament is no more or less democratic than a referendum.