Utter confusion

In a few days the Irish people vote on one of the most inscrutable, inpenetrable and incomprehensible pieces of legislation that has ever been put in front of any populace, anywhere: the Lisbon Treaty.

24 out of the 25 other member states of the EU shied off putting Lisbon to a referendum for good reason. It’s impossible to read. Most of our politicians haven’t read it either.

It’s a complete mess. On the “No” side are the usual suspects: the anti-abortionists, the pro-neutrality crowd, the “Ourselves Alone” bloc, the anti-immigrant league and various conspiracy theorists and assorted weirdos. On the “Yes” side is the establishment – the politicians, the trade unions, the church, the farmers and the main lobby groups.

Both compaigns have employed very different strategies to gain electoral support. The No Camp have gone for the jugular with direct, easily digestible messages such as “They won’t see you, they won’t hear you, they won’t speak to you”, or “If you don’t know, vote No”.The Yes Camp have decided to use bland messages and to appeal to authority. A happy shiny face of some politician accompanies each poster with the implication that because X is voting Yes, you should too. They appeal to negative consequenses, telling us that all sorts of bad things will happen if we vote No.

In the end, it’s a battle between the Red Herring on one side and Darth Vader on the other.

Me? I’m probably going to vote yes, but I’m open to convincing. I am pro-European and I don’t think there is anything in this treaty that will herald the end of the world. Europe has been a hugely positive force in Ireland, has done a good job in bringing Ireland out of the Stone Age over the last 40 years. Personally, I don’t think that Ireland as a part of an integrated European Union is a bad thing.

My sense is that the referendum will be rejected, but we’ll see how it turns out.