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IT is unlikely the Lisbon Treaty was rejected because of the arguments and ideologies of no campaigners.
It is more likely the referendum was lost because of the incompetence and ineptitude of the yes side.
For decades, the Irish political class have sold Europe as an ATM, but failed to sell its vision and benefits. In addition, they repeatedly blamed Europe for their own screw-ups and claimed credit for Europe’s good ideas.
Fianna Fáil must take the lion’s share of blame for a pathetic yes campaign.
We had a Taoiseach and an EU commissioner who didn’t read the treaty. And a Tánaiste who didn’t know how many commissioners there were.
FF was more interested in Bertie’s lap of honour and promoting him as a sure bet for European president than promoting the treaty.
FF was too cute by half, trying to have it both ways with defence and neutrality. And to top it off, Cowen insulted Fine Gael by saying its supporters were not active enough in the campaign.
The no posters sold the negative aspects of the treaty very well. In contrast, most yes posters were more interested in selling candidates. Labour’s posters, for example, didn’t even have ‘yes’ on them. European politicians are not blameless either. They deliberately wrote an obscure and complicated treaty, hoping the electorate would be tricked into voting for it.
They also deliberately denied their own electorates a referendum, raising doubts about their real commitment to democracy and questions of what they are hiding. This wasn’t helped by burying controversial policies until after the referendum.
And their schoolyard bullyboy tactic of threatening little Ireland with dire consequences if we voted no showed horrific levels of contempt, arrogance, and downright stupidity.
This wasn’t a vote against Europe. This was a vote against the political establishment and their dishonest culture of spin, evasive answers and double-speak.
Ireland needs a Barack Obama to bring a fresh and radical change in political attitudes and thinking. The question is, does Ireland have an Obama?
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