Fighting the Lisbon Lies

The Lisbon Referendum Rerun 

Workers Party CEC  Paper - 29th August 2009

On 12th June 2008 the Irish electorate rejected the Lisbon Treaty in referendum. We knew then that the Irish government and the EU elite would never accept that verdict and as early as October 2008 there was a major discussion at the CEC on this very topic.


What are the issues:


Our criticism of the Treaty, as set out in our 2007 / 2008 documentation still stands. Our canvass leaflet from that campaign sets out 10 areas to which we object. All of these objections - on democracy, on workers rights, on public services, on militarisation, on foreign policy - still stand. What is different is the stand which the pro-Lisbon gang have adopted and the preparations which they have made. Their preparations have been in organisation; in media presentation, and on the propaganda front.  On issues like “Generation Yes” or the despicable attitude of the Irish Times and RTE there is very little we can do - they are part of the establishment and they act accordingly. Therefore we must counteract the lies and propaganda which the Yes side are putting out - and to do this we must understand the lies which they are telling:


The Brussels Agreement of June 2009 gives us binding protocols: Blatantly untrue. The June agreement was not a Treaty and has no legal status. It is an intergovernmental agreement to have a protocol (a binding attachment to a Treaty) at some time in the future but there is no agreement as to its contents. Let there be no Doubt - if the government could have got the wording of the future protocol they would have kissed Barosso’s arse.


Irish neutrality is protected by a Protocol: Not true. There is the so called “Triple lock” but look at Shannon Airport. In any event neutrality in foreign policy is more important than in military matters and here we have sold out completely.


The Irish Government secured a great victory in retaining an Irish Commissioner: We have always made the point that it is not the make-up of the commission which is the problem (can we imagine 27 Charlie McCreeys?) but the power of the commission. The commission - ie the bureaucracy - is established by Treaty and only the Commission can initiate legislation.


Workers rights are protected in the Treaty. Rubbish. The Charter on Fundamental Rights establishes no new rights for workers - it also defers to national legislation - and worst of all it puts the needs of the market (ie competition) in a superior position to the rights of workers. Otherwise do we think that Ryanair, Merkel, Berlusconi and the ERT would all support it?


Ireland’s constitutional ban on Abortion is protected: Is this supposed to be a good thing? We now have an EU guarantee than we can export our problems of unwanted pregnancies to the UK or elsewhere! (The Catholic fanatics eg Coir, will not believe the guarantee and their presence on the NO side will undoubtedly be of more benefit to the Yes side than to us).


We must remain at the “Heart of Europe”. This is code for saying that if we reject the Lisbon Treaty we are rejecting the EU. The French, the Dutch and the Irish rejected the Constitution / Lisbon Treaty and the EU has continued along fine as per Nice.


We need Lisbon to fight the recession - look at Iceland. This is probably the most insidious Yes argument - not because it is in any way true but because it takes time to explain it is total nonsense. Iceland did not have a recession because it was outside the EU and it will probably recover much quicker than we will. Our speculator boom was fuelled by low ECB interest rates because they were set to suit the German economy and our need for high interest rates in 2003 - 2007 was irrelevant. The other issue is that it is argued by many left-wing economists that had Lisbon been in force at the time of the recession then the type of state and EU level intervention to save banks etc would not have been possible because of much stricter rules on the primacy of the market.

This debate also relates back to the earlier paragraph about rejecting Lisbon equaling leaving the EU.

As regards the Iceland debate the other argument is - Look at Norway. It is a small country on the periphery of Europe with a population of about 5 million. It is not in the EU. It does not have a recession or a depression or an economic crisis.


Integration: What is the end objective of the people pushing the Lisbon agenda - the power brokers of the European Round Table of Industrialists (ERT)? These people have successfully pushed the former EEC to a single market for goods, services and labour; they have pushed for a single defence and foreign policy (CSFP) and they want a united political union.


The Actual Referendum. On 2nd October the Irish people will not be asked to vote on the Lisbon Treaty. WE will be asked to amend our own constitution and to allow the Government to ratify the Lisbon Treaty and to allow for further unspecified implications which might later arise. Despite the fact that we have a well paid and well resourced Referendum Commission there has been no debate on the key issue - that this is actually a constitutional referendum.


While the issue has bubbled away for the last 14 months in he corridors of power and at various EU summits it has, in so far as the public has been concerned, a dead issue. However the issue is now very much alive. This day five weeks is the day the votes will be counted.


How therefore are we to proceed and what are the issues which we will confront?


The working class and the working class constituencies - the areas that most overwhelmingly rejected Lisbon in June 2008 - has taken a terrible battering in those 14 months. Mass unemployment, negative equity in housing for young families, slash and burn Budget policies, NAMA, an Bord Snip; Review body on Taxation are all assailing working class families. At this time there is the whole issue of school costs, school books, special needs provision. Of coarse there is the perennial issue of the health system which Mary Harney is destroying piece by piece.


One thing on which we can rely is the common sense of the Irish people. They   know that a dodgy second hand car salesman does not change his spots.  If the government has sold us a pup with NAMA, id the government has sold us a pup with An Bord Snip; if the government is going to sell us a pup with the Commission on Taxation; then is it not logical that they are selling us a pup with the Lisbon Treaty?


It is to counteract this common sense approach of the people that the opposition establishment parties, the employers, the establishment media, and all the various   front-groups masquerading as independent civic society organisations have come together to attempt to guarantee the passing of the Lisbon Treaty despite the deserved raging unpopularity of this government.


The Yes side have had 15 months of having the ball to themselves. We have 5 weeks to regalvanise opposition.. However we are not engaged in a token fight. The people can once again defeat the Irish and EU elite but the campaign will run right to the wire.


Our campaign will consist of the normal issueing of posters, distribution of leaflets, door-to-door and public canvassing.

We will co-operate with all other left groups in a practical manner and we will participate fully in the CAEUC organisation. We have no fear of public debate with the Yes side and are more than willing to participate in debates organised by the various Yes groupings or to invite yes speakers to debates at meetings which we organise (as we did in 2008).

At this moment we have a fairly full schedule of meetings set out, but there may be one or two additions. The meetings organised so far are:

Dundalk                                   Ballina                          Galway

Waterford                                Wexford Town             Cork

Dublin - Nt Strand                    Dublin Smithfield           Finglas

Ballyfermot                               Crumlin                          Ringsend

Lucan / Leixlip

On Tuesday 8th September we have pencilled in a Press Conference to formally launch our campaign.

Peace, Work, Democracy, and Class Politics