From Socialist Voice, August 2009

The second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty: An affront to the Irish people

The Government has announced that the second referendum on the already rejected Lisbon Treaty will take place on the 2nd of October. This was the green light for the Yes side to get into full swing. It also allowed them complete access to the mass media, in particular to RTE, the state-controlled television and radio, to pump out pro-Yes propaganda without having to afford the No campaign equality in air time.
     With the writ for holding the referendum not moved yet, the obligation to present a balance of Yes and No arguments in relation to the debate does not come into play. This was a clever strategic move by the Government.
     When Cowen swaggered home from Brussels waving his “guarantees” like Neville Chamberlain coming back from Berlin, the media campaign moved up another gear to browbeat people into changing their minds and voting Yes.
     These guarantees are of little value, as they are only political commitments and are not legally binding. They are a fig-leaf to cover this Government’s abject failure to defend the democratic decision of its own people.
     Since the Government announced the date we have seen a mushrooming of supposedly “people’s” organisations campaigning for a Yes vote. On the weekend after the EU summit meeting at which Cowen secured his “guarantees” a series of articles had already been written and planted in the Sunday papers, and radio programmes had been primed to do interviews.
     On Sunday afternoon a new group was unveiled to the public, calling itself “Ireland for Europe.” It is headed by the corporate lobbyist and former MEP Pat Cox. This group has been attempting to present itself as anti-establishment and opposed to all the establishment parties. Included in its ranks are people who voted No the first time round but who now see the error of their ways, including naïve souls like Robby Keane, as well as former politicians, corporate representatives, and some trade union leaders, both past and present, whose collective contribution to the labour movement could be recorded on the back of a postage stamp. It also includes the tame poet and court jester Séamus Heaney, who, over nearly four decades of civil rights struggle and armed conflict in the North of Ireland, could not manage to utter one word.
     The Government strategy is clear: to imply that it has secured Ireland’s interests in the form of the so-called guarantees and to show that all sensible people who voted No the last time have come to their senses and are now back on message. They are attempting to present the case that the Irish people are out of step with the people in the other member-states; yet they have to acknowledge that, if given the democratic right to vote on this treaty, the overwhelming majority of people throughout the European Union would reject it. They are also attempting to portray the No campaign as a motley crew of no-hopers and extremists, including communists.
     The arguments presented by the No campaign last time remain valid; and the very fact that both the establishment and its political parties and the whole of the EU corporate elite have refused to accept the right of the Irish people to say No, as they rejected both the French and Dutch No votes, is a clear example of the huge assault being carried out on democratic opinion.
     If the Irish people reject this treaty again it will not affect our position in Europe but will in fact keep whatever influence we have; for if the Lisbon Treaty goes through, the larger states, such as Germany, France, and Britain, will further consolidate their dominance with the proposed voting structure, new areas in which the veto will be removed, and new areas of majority voting based on population.
     This is not just a battle for the Irish people alone but is a battle being fought on Irish soil for the future of democracy throughout Europe. It is the duty of all progressive forces to show maximum support for democratic forces in Ireland by every means necessary. Already the EU Commission has spent millions on false propaganda, while Government front organisations have access to endless amounts of money and resources.
     Irish workers need once again to come out and vote No. Workers throughout the European Union are under attack from decisions made by the European Court of Justice, using previous treaties.
     If the Lisbon Treaty is carried it will consolidate and set in stone the policies now being pursued by the European Union. It will entrench neo-liberalism and the primacy of the market, making the rights of corporations superior to those of workers.
     The response from the Irish people must be a clear No.

One cheer for Pat Cox!

For several years the European Commission has been publicly pursuing the crooked monopoly Microsoft for violation of EU anti-competitive regulations. Happily for all, a deal has been worked out whereby Microsoft will not have to pay the millions in fines that were threatened, nor to change significantly any of its corrupt practices.
     Much of the credit for this happy outcome must go to our own Pat Cox, president of the European Movement, founder-member of the Progressive Democrats, former president of the European Parliament, and head of the Irish Government’s front organisation campaigning for a Yes vote, who also happens to be a member of the “Microsoft European Advisory Council”—and the “Pfizer Europe Advisory Council,” and the “Conseil de Surveillance Michelin,” and . . .

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