From Socialist Voice, October 2009

The most dishonest political campaign

Between the first and second referendums on the Lisbon Treaty the country was hit by the economic crisis. Our pathetic Government had no idea how to cope with the situation; all they could do was strive to protect their friends and supporters who so conspicuously thronged the Fianna Fáil tent at the Galway Races. But they never lost their political skills.
     Early on in their campaign for the treaty, Government and opposition parties spotted that what was worrying people most was the threat to their jobs—if they hadn’t already lost them. So they called in their public relations experts and spin doctors and launched their poster campaigns.
     Never mind that there is nothing in the Lisbon Treaty that would facilitate a programme for economic recovery, or still less a policy of protection of employment, and that they knew that perfectly well. The impression was made, but not explicitly stated, that the powerful states of the European Union would help us if we passed the treaty, and would punish us if we voted No again.
     The most effective, most professionally designed posters to be seen were those produced by IBEC, the employers’ organisation. Placards proclaiming “Yes for jobs” festooned the lampposts of the country; it seemed there were more of them than all the others combined.
     How ludicrous is it that this organisation should suddenly discover a concern for the welfare of their workers. Not only companies in difficulty but some that are still making profits have been sacking workers and cutting wages. Furthermore, IBEC has been campaigning for big cuts in public services.
     The Government has already been cutting staff in the services; many of those without permanent contracts have already lost their jobs; others have been persuaded to take early retirement—not bureaucrats, of course, but essential workers, including teachers and nurses. They plan to cut many more. Fine Gael criticises them for not cutting enough.
     Of all the dishonest political campaigns in our history, this has been the worst. Not one of these parties, and certainly not the employers, have any policy for protecting or creating jobs. Neither is it, nor can it be under the rules they operate by, an economic priority for the European Commission or the European Central Bank. They are bound to facilitate competition and to combat inflation.
     And let us give credit to the party that first thought of using the anxiety of working people to get the Lisbon Treaty passed. The Labour Party came up with the slogan “Work with Europe,” an attempt at a clever little pun, implying that voting for the treaty would help to get us into jobs.
     It is sad that the leadership of that party have abandoned the interests of the working class, preferring to act as a patsy for the bourgeois parties, so much do they desire the trappings of office.

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