Monday, October 22, 2007

So Close, Yet Miles Apart

Bertie Aherne
Bertie...up to the challenge
It was hardly worth tuning in to listen to Brown's pathetic attempts to justify the unjustifiable in his statement today on the Lisbon summit. It was all so predictable, especially the endless gibberish on red lines. What Brown seems to have conveniently forgotten that the in the manifesto commitment to a referendum, it was assumed that exactly the same red lines would be in place in any EU Constitution text that was put to the people.

All it leaves the Prime Minister with, in defending the line that the document is fundamentally different, are the fact that the document has been rewritten to maximise incomprehensibility whilst preserving the intent of its predecessor, and that references to flags, anthems and mottos were dropped. The former speaks volumes on how much our politicians want us to understand their project, the latter I never gave that much of a toss about one way other, given that these symbols will continue de facto to be used in the same way they always have been.

One little self justificatory line he did try to use was that nobody else was having a referendum, apart from the Irish, who, he tried to imply, were only having one reluctantly as a matter of constitutional necessity. Leaving aside what everyone is told as a child about 'everyone else is(n't) doing it' excuse, his line on the Irish position was comprehensively being crushed even as he was speaking.

According to EU Observer:
As the only country so far to definitely have a referendum on the newly-formed EU treaty, Ireland has said other member states should not be "afraid" of taking the same path.

"I think it's a bit upsetting ... to see so many countries running away from giving their people an opportunity," Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern said on Sunday (21 October), according to the Irish Independent.

"If you believe in something ... why not let your people have a say in it. I think the Irish people should take the opportunity to show the rest of Europe that they believe in the cause, and perhaps others shouldn't be so much afraid of it," he added.

Source: EU Observer

I don't think there can be too much doubt about which particular member state, with a leader whose cowardice is now legendary, he is accusing of being "afraid".

It was truly appalling to see the usual supposed supporters of the EU lining up to demand that the people should not speak and thereby ensure that public hostility to the organisation can only grow. Most worthless of all in recent days have been the Lib Dem leadership contenders who have also shown the same yellow streak as their departed leader on the issue; a bad dose of MRSA on both your houses.

It looks likely that the status quo will be maintained. In the UK the EU will remain a distrusted plaything of the political classes while just over the Irish sea it will be a project the people are part of. I suspect that if I had grown up in Eire, and that if suitable provision was made in Irish law to ensure that the self-amending elements of the treaty did not make the vote next year the referendum to end all referenda, that I would probably be inclined to vote in favour of what is on the table.

Bertie Ahern has more than his fair share of scandal and sleaze clinging to him, but on this matter, in terms of integrity and principle he outclasses our vile troll. The sensible side of the pro-EU debate must realise that those that engage with their people positively and willingly are their real allies, while those like Brown are the worst of false friends.

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