June 11, 2008

Why 'Yes' and 'No' voters are in a class of their own

Posted in Ireland · 41 comments ·
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Is the debate on the Lisbon Treaty coming down to class? Is the overwhelming bourgeois accent of the ‘Yes’ vote an election issue? In an era when many considered class politics to be more or less over, the social breakdown in the polls is fascinating.

The trend that has emerged is that the middle-class is considerably more pro-European than the working class.

According to the latest polls, the ‘Yes’ campaign is only ahead among the better off ABC1 voters. So the posh are pro-Europe while the majority of the working class is planning a ‘No’ vote.

It seems that the older poshies are more European as last weekend’s polls indicate that — in demographic terms — there was only a majority of ‘Yes’ supporters among the over-50s. So there is a generation gap as well as an income gap emerging.

Interestingly, this social and demographic breakdown is a pattern which has been repeated in most European countries.

For example, three years ago, on Wednesday June 1, 2005, days after the French people rejected the European constitution, the French conservative paper ‘Le Figaro’ broke down the vote geographically and socially. The vote in Paris was extraordinary. Even though 55pc of French voters voted against the EU, not one district of Paris did. Every single arrondissement voted ‘Yes’.

Tellingly, the richest ones voted ‘Yes’ in the greatest numbers.

The slightly shabbier districts voted ‘Yes’ by 52pc and 53pc, whereas the ritzy 16th — the epicentre of expensive, cosmopolitan France — voted ‘Yes’ by a staggering Ceausescu-esque 80pc.

The treaty was beaten overwhelmingly in the poorer, more rural areas of the South and the North. The French country voted ‘No’, the French city voted ‘Yes’. A similar, but not so stark, pattern was seen in Holland when it rejected the treaty.

The message here and on the continent is that the privileged are pro-European and the average bloke feels alienated from this elite.

If we look at developments in Ireland we see that the entire establishment is gunning for Europe and yet the people are not with them. So why is the establishment so out of step with the people and what does it tell us about the state of politics in the country at the moment?

One way of looking at this is via the prism of a social contract. Now that the credit binge of the past few years is over, the social contract that underpinned Bertie Ahern’s Ireland is beginning to unravel in front of Brian Cowen’s eyes.

Bertie’s contract was based on the conveyor belt of higher house prices. His promise was to inflate the housing market and our response was to suspend our critical faculties. As long as a healthy majority were seeing their “wealth” increase every month, most were prepared to go along with the establishment’s line that “we’d never had it so good”.

Now that house prices are going the other way, people are beginning to question the Government’s bona fides.

Last year’s opportunities are now looking like threats and the very remoteness of the EU is seen as a problem. The foreign is now suspect and the local is elevated. The economic insecurity of the downturn is now setting the tone and anything which vaguely appears to alter the status quo is one change too many. We are now a nation of burned gamblers who have — temporarily — lost our appetite for risk.

With job losses and the realisation that bills will have to be paid, people are much more questioning, much less likely to accept the party line. For some, more Europe means more foreign, more globalisation and arguably more risk. When people feel threatened, the last thing they want to do is give away more power.

We should see these referenda as an opportunity to assess the state of the nation, and at the moment the polls are telling us that the posh feel less threatened, while the hoi polloi are not so sure.

This split is entirely understandable from an economic perspective. In the past five years, Ireland has digested more change than possibly any other country in the EU. We have received in more immigrants, borrowed more, travelled more and opened up our lives to so many new influences.

On a daily basis, the reality of living and working in one of the most globalised economies in the world, has changed us. When things were motoring along, all this was digestible, now that the economy has stalled all bets are off.

There is another fascinating dynamic in this European treaty to do with how people position themselves vis-a-vis Brussels.

In the past, when Ireland was poor, being seen as pro-European was seen as being sophisticated and cosmopolitan. To be otherwise was a sign of backwardness, nationalism and having a narrow world view.

The bourgeoisie were pro-European, pro-divorce and anti-clerical. They knew their asparagus tips from their balsamic vinegar. As far as they were concerned, Europe was our beacon of civilisation. These people holidayed in the Dordogne, ate smorgasbords and fully expected Ireland to turn into Denmark under the guiding hand of some reformed 1968, bi-lingual, student radical.

It was interesting to hear Danny Cohen Bendit — the utterly cosmopolitan leader of the 1968 rebellion – say yesterday that Ireland should leave the EU if we vote ‘No’. This was a man who once called for tolerance and respect for diversity of opinion.

Today, he seems to think that one size fits all.

Sometimes the irascibility of this pro-EU elite is evident as they regard any questioning of the project as treason.

It is a tone that really grates. It’s as if only they understand the complexity of the issues and that comprehending the machinations of the EU is only open to the hyper-educated.

Knowing your Commission from your Council is up there with knowing your Sartre from your de Beauvoir and your Camus from your Kierkegaard. This type of insight is beyond the hoi polloi and they should not even attempt with their limited frontal lobes to opine on such subjects.

Tomorrow’s vote is too close to call and most of us will vote on the basis of a variety of concerns — some economic, some cultural and social — but one thing is clear: the establishment is at odds with the population and this tells us more about Ireland today than it does about Europe tomorrow.


  1. Johnny Waldron

    A very insightful article. I feel that there has been scarce debate of a vision for the EU. The “Yes” campaigners dismiss the “vision” debate as an irrelevance and that the Lisbon treaty is largely about improving the operational efficiency of the EU. We have been told that much of our sovereignty has already been conceded in earlier treaties. Such blithe dismissals ignore the fundamental concerns of many voters about where the EU is headed and its ultimate purpose.

    This lack of political “vision” is endemic of the Irish system. The most successful parties in Ireland operate on personality rather than policy: vote for me/my family rather than for a manifesto or ideology. The difficulty for the Irish parties in this campaign is that we are not voting for our familiar politicians but rather for the European political bureaucracy. Similarly the detail of the treaty is far from clear. The typical comment from the “Yes” side is that Europe has been good for us so keep the faith and vote “Yes”. The difficulty for the voter is to have any faith in people they neither know nor elect with no explicit ideology or political objectives. A very hard sell

  2. Paul

    A person at work once gave me a list of his favourite wines to try to impress me (WTF ???), he e-mailed me the list, along with a few tips on wine collecting. I emailed him back asking, why he had not included “Two Buck Chuck” on his list. Two Buck Chuck (Californian) is one of the best wines you can get, and it only costs between two and four bucks a pop, bargain !!.

    Some people on this Island try too hard to be sophisticated and European, they end up giving out the wrong message, they end up coming across smug and annoying.

  3. Marcus

    If the politicians can’t explain what we are signing up to then they have no business telling us to Vote yes, regardless of it being good bad or doesn’t make a difference. I personally hope it backfires in their face and they realize that they have to work for their money like everyone else. Cowen is a disgrace using the exact same rhetoric that Bertie used in his push for electronic voting which believe me was highly dubious to say the least. Vote NO and save democracy.

  4. Is strange how the country people that are the ones receiving more funding from the EU in agricultural aids are those who complains the most.

    Anyway, I want to give mi opinion as a spaniard about this polling.

    If Ireland says no, you won’t need to go away from the EU, but you will lose all that “nice guys” feeling about Europe. So far UK has got it all about that feeling. Everytime they block some kind of European agreement, always UK had some reason to say no and stop or delay that process. If there were a referendum about pushing UK out of the EU, I’m quite sure most of countries will agree. UK is eurosceptic and the continental EU countries are UKsceptic.

    If you vote no, very likely you’ll start sharing that position with the UK.

    Personally I don’t understand how someone pretend to go to Brussels and give any reason why a 4 million people country deserves a commissioner all the time even when some other countries bigger than Ireland gave up theirs to meet an agreement.

    Perhaps the EU is too big for Ireland right now. It was fine while it was poor and the money was coming and you were as strong as half Germany, but in a 27 countries EU, that’s not possible anymore.

    For the EU to go on most of those changes in the treaty are needed. If you don’t want to go that way, perhaps it’s time to ask if you want to go on in this different EU or not.

    Whatever it’s, it’s in your votes.

  5. John Q. Public

    Our biggest problem is lack of education in this area(and with other EU issues, not just Lisbon), not to mention voter apathy. Has there been a single add on TV asking us to look at http://www.reformtreaty.ie ? Sure, in the run up to elections we get party political broadcasts but in the run up to referenda we don’t even get 30 seconds giving us the main bullitt points. As for that leaflet that that came through the hall door, most people don’t have the time.
    The end result will depend on the weather and those who think with their wallets. Those who have little money will probably vote ‘no’ but this might include those who have recently fallen on hard times, it’s hard to say.

  6. Look what the cat dragged in

    If this treaty is rejected it will be because the yes side made a disaster in selling it to the population. Instead of informing, all they did was tried ramming us into a yes vote using bulling tactics and undermining our intelligence. I hope it backfires in their face.

  7. VincentH

    I have three copies of the treaties and a grasp of language. ( NUI, Galway seem to think so anyway.) But not since reading Kant have I encountered anything where meaning is so buried. I mistakenly thought that one or other of the copies would open flower like and display, but no. Then I thought that someone would explain, again no. So I was left picking up each clause and asking what does this do. I felt like a watchmaker, when all I wanted to know was the time.
    And sure as hell what has been going on here for the last few week has little or nothing to do with what is intended by those treaties.
    The Court is the thing, and like S.C.O.T.U.S. will have overview on everything. But unlike US there is not a constitution for it to define itself. Placing it nearer to the law lords in GB.
    At the moment I am in the no camp for the simple reason that these things are an insult. What I was handed was a bag full of all the bits of a watch. I’m just pissed off with them.

  8. Declan

    Just in response to BigFredi’s comments above, your argument is very shallow indeed. It is obvious that we are losing a lot by voting yes to the treaty, There is no doubt that we will loose voting capabilities and we will loose a commissioner for 5 years like the rest of our EU counterparts.
    We are not receiving anything in return, normally in a bargaining process to take something away something else would be offered. My understanding is that we are being forced or cajoled into accepting a treaty that downgrades our influence in the EU.
    But the fact of the matter is we are bargaining down and getting nothing in response. Why would anyone in their right mind accept something like this.
    If you think this makes good sense how about I give you €5 and you give me €10 in return does that sound good to you?????
    Oh so we should take the higher moral ground and accept a poorer position in the EU because the EU assisted us? What happens as our economy slips into the abyss, we will get nothing from the EU to protect us from this and we will get even less from our politicians who will scape the EU for problems like Currency and Interest Rate issues.
    Voting No will serves a dual purpose, one to negotiate a serious alternative to Lisbon, the EU is not and should not be a United States of Europe. The second will be a serious wake up call to the mainstream politicians of Ireland, that the electorate no longer believe their lame propaganda and lies that they have fed us for the last few years.

  9. BigFredi: By “nice guys” you imply pushovers. Essentially, that’s the dilemna we face. Ireland can be a Euro lap dog which does whatever the more powerful countries say regardless of its effect on our own economy. Or we can assert our right to independence. In content and spirit this treaty is unreasonable to many in Ireland. To others its impenetrability causes distrust, and why wouldn’t it? However, just because the governments of other nations believe we don’t need a commissioner or that we should ratify the treaty unquestioningly, doesn’t mean we should. I’m sorry our 4 million people are so difficult! So far I’ve heard French, German and now Spanish people opine that now that Ireland is no longer poor (relatively) we don’t know our place, as a small and peripheral nation in Europe that’s benefitted greatly from handouts. Whether you can recognise it, this is a highly patronising opinion. Also, why does Europe need to “go on”? What real progress will be afforded by taking further steps towards a federal Europe? The current imbalance in voting rights relative to population reflects the fact that the EU is a cooperation between sovereign nations, not yet a cohesive federation of states. It seems the spirit of trust and cooperation which led to the creation of the 4 freedoms has been abandoned in favour of imposed law and institutions which will ultimately have greatest benefit for the economic interests of the largest states. There are many ways to make Europe work better and increased accountability is one of them. Irrevocably handing more power to unelected bureaucrats is not.

  10. MK

    A good article David.

    However, as an economist, I would have expected you to have opined to some extent on whether Yes or No will be better for our economy, for hoi-polloi’s and bourgeoisie, if indeed there will be any difference. Perhaps there wont. Like others have written elsewhere, Lisbon is a ‘fixing’ teaty for the faults in the other treaties, including the Nice one which we did just recently and is supposedly needed for the expansion to the 27 countries. But, we have ALREADY expanded to 27 countries, so the need for it is in reality benign. Its arguable whether it will be more efficient or indeed better. Wouldnt elected Commisioners be better?

    > Sometimes the irascibility of this pro-EU elite is evident as they regard any questioning of the project as treason.

    Indeed. The political “elite” are taking people’s votes for granted and proclaiming that a No vote is ‘madness’ and anti-EU. This is perhaps why many who are Yes-inclined and pro-Europe will in fact vote No this time. Many of the political elite across Europe need a good kick in the you know what ….

    Of course, even if there is a No, expect a Lisbon II like, with subtle changes, and it will be put to us again, ala Nice II. Brow beaten, many will take the advice – “you will vote Yes if you know whats good for you”.

    Vote wisely ….

    MK

    MK

  11. Ed

    “The Court is the thing, and like S.C.O.T.U.S. will have overview on everything. But unlike US there is not a constitution for it to define itself. Placing it nearer to the law lords in GB.”

    Excellent conclusion – this is the dodgy aspect that I don’t like – our politicians are asking us to trust their judgement, but do they have any judgement to trust?

  12. Fred M

    The way the debate has been going in Ireland makes me feel sad. Europe is a very important subject, and it has been manipulated by both side in order to push people in one or the other voting direction.

    Europe used to be an ideal, creating a community of nations to enforce peace and maybe prosperity. The fundamentals of Europe are good, but the scope is way bigger than Ireland. It was very interesting to have a referendum for this treaty, because it has given the opportunity to some citizens to give their opinion on what is going on. There is a big lesson to be learned by Europe there on how to stengthen democracy in the future, by reinforcing and simplifying the communication between the european instances and the public.

    Nevertheless, it seems to me that Ireland has forgotten here that Europe is about give and take, and risk taking. Yes there are uncertainties, yes there is a power unbalance in the treaty. But this is fair compared to the number of unhabitants. I can understand that people don’t want certain decisions to be taken outside of their government/parliament. But remember that Europe only decides on subjects which are best solved by a group than individually. At the end, saying no to Lisbon is also saying that you trust more your own government than a bunch of them to take decisions. Based on the situation in Ireland, I wonder what could do worth, and I would be myself tempted to trust more the shared experience and knowledge of 27 countries than the politically restricted and biased experience of one national group (again, this is only true for global challenges).

    I am glad that people are allowed to give their direct opinion. It’s a good wake up call for Europe. I just hope that the decisions are made based on realistic arguments and clear understanding of what Europe is. It doesn’t seem to be the case here.

    FM

  13. Mojo

    Where to start?!
    I partially agree with Johnny, there has been little or no debate in Ireland about the vision and direction of the European project. However, the reality is that we as a nation already decided to agree to a move towards increased Political Union when we agreed to the Amsterdam and Nice treaties. The time for the debate over the ‘Vision’ is long gone. We only have ourselves to blame for that.

    As for Marcus’s contribution of vote no for democracy, tell me, how is it democratic for a country of 4m people to have an equal share in deciding the shape of policy in the Union as a country with 40m? Furthermore, Lisbon would mean that all those ‘democratically’ elected MEPs, who have feck all role at present, would actualy play some sort of meaning role in shaping EU policies.

    John Q. Public complains about not being informed propperly, but doesnt have the time to read a 6 page booklet (its actually 6 page in english, and 6 pages in Irish). How long does it take to read 6 pages? How long to you spend watching TV in the evening? Less time than it takes to read six pages?!

    Declan, you see it as a bargaining situation where we get nothing? How about more efficient use of our tax money (Brussels would be less of a talking shop), how about being part of a stronger economic and political block?

    And Shane, whether its patronising or not, Big Freddie’s comment has more than a grain of truth in it. Look at Declan and his ‘whats in it for us’ post.

    Anyway, not that it matters, i suspect soundbites and ignorance shall rule the day anyway.

  14. In the end it just seems to me that the Average European Josef, whilst is generally pro Europe (and all the good stuff that entails) has just not kept up to speed with the Eurocrats who, some might argue, may have gotten a little ahead of themselves and the “Grand Vision thing”. I think most average Europeans (NB the “average” does not include the minority “elites”) just want to catch their breath on Europe and perhaps slow down the integration and pace of change. Like it on not, the average is generally the majority and in a Referendum that’s all you need. The man on the street, ignorant or not, needs to be listened to and not told what to do or harried into a decision under a veiled threat. That just build resentment and an emotional response.

  15. In the end it just seems to me that the Average European Josef, whilst is generally pro Europe (and all the good stuff that entails) has just not kept up to speed with the Eurocrats who, some might argue, may have gotten a little ahead of themselves and the “Grand Vision thing”. I think most average Europeans (NB the “average” does not include the minority “elites”) just want to catch their breath on Europe and perhaps slow down the integration and pace of change. Like it on not, the average is generally the majority and in a Referendum that’s all you need. The man on the street, ignorant or not, needs to be listened to and not told what to do or harried into a decision under a veiled threat. That just build resentment and an emotional response.

  16. eugene

    “As for Marcus’s contribution of vote no for democracy, tell me, how is it democratic for a country of 4m people to have an equal share in deciding the shape of policy in the Union as a country with 40m?”

    Because Ireland is a nation state. If we are be subsumed into larger groupings against our will, or benefit then we lose our identity. I assume that the Germans will vote for Germany’s interest. To ask the question is to explain why the European project has to stop, and stop now. Most people in Europe want a collection of nations, which are by definition equal ( as in the general assembly of the UN). Even the US allows equal representation for it’s States in the Senate – none of these States have thousands of years of history, none are nation States. So we get the same votes as germany in all cases, or bust. Anything else is German-Franco hegemony.

    I suggest that Big Freddi talk about democracy when his country, out of fascism for a mere generation or so, gives it’s people the right to vote on this issue. Like the only democratic nation in Europe, Ireland.

  17. Philip

    I think the NOs will have it..and why? Because they cannot calculate. We are just 1 % of population getting 10/15th of a commissioner with 10% of total action = 6.6% of total action. Or you can have 1/26 of the action (becasue you have one commissioner) or 3.8% action.

    Am I missing something here? Each person will have a market leverage multiplier of 6 times.

    Sorry, but all I see is the need to make our economy strong and pay the bills and hav a reasonable quality of life. Yes is a no brainer.

  18. eugene

    “Sorry, but all I see is the need to make our economy strong and pay the bills and hav a reasonable quality of life. Yes is a no brainer.”

    Right because if we vote no we get kicked out of the EU. Horsepants.

    In fact, if anything, the pro-yurup ideology of the Irish elites are going to make it really hard to have any kind of “reasonable quality of life”. We signed up to a Euro run for the benefit of Germany, and while in the Euro allowed the new States full immigration rights to our shores, unlike the best ever pro-Europeans – the French and Germans.

    Result, misery. Millions of Poles come to build house for themselves with easy credit due to pro-cylical interest rates designed for Germany, then a bust followed by anti-cylical interest rates designed for Germany, and Poles go home in their millions leaning hundreds of thousands with negative equity. Marvelous.

    Europe was fine until 1998 – a collection of separate nations with free trade agreements. thats it, thats all. Full referenda across europe would expose this nonsense.

  19. B

    At 7:05 this morning I voted no. I am pro european and PRO DEMOCRACY.

  20. Philip

    Interesting times are coming – if NO vote. Keep an open mind I suppose. Lots happening on the energy and general resources front that could change the rules at any time.

  21. B

    Fear uncertainty and doubt or FUD are no reason to vote for a crock of a treaty.

  22. Philip

    Looks like NO will be carried and French Foreign Minister wants us kicked out. If nothing else, it’ll spark debate. That’ll be good. Irish influential capability will be tested. Windbags vs Reality…

  23. SpinstaSista

    The French and the Dutch weren’t kicked out for voting NO. Why should Ireland be treated any differently?

  24. kieran daly

    The Euro project is a con job and benefits the elite at the expense of the masses.Why not rerun Maastricht, Amsterdam etc and reclaim the nations sovereignty?.No all the way, hip hip hooray!.

  25. B

    If the French foreign minister wanted a Federal Europe he should have kept schtum when the Third Reich were in his front garden. He would have got it in 1940 along with the rest of Europe.

    I refuse to apologise to ANYBODY for exercising my democratic vote to say NO.

    If “Europe” is unhappy with our decision ask them why no other country was afforded a democratic vote. I do not apologise for living in a democracy and exercising my right to vote.

  26. John Q. Public

    David, now that it looks like a ‘NO’, can you tell us mere mortals how we will be better or worse off. What are the implications and how does it affect the economy.

  27. Observer

    YES! IT’S A DEFINITE KICK IN THE FACE TO THE EU!
    Great result……. now we should consider changing the EU to suit ourselves or leave

  28. David, I’ve excerpted from your article in my post:

    http://avuncularamerican.typepad.com/blog/2008/06/ireland-europe-why-not.html

    Congratulations on your site, and thanks for your perceptive analysis.

    Gerald Loftus
    Brussels

  29. K Woroniecki

    Bravo Irish People!

    Lisbon Treaty You rejected in next decade would make out of European Nations satellites of Deutsch Reich with Frank Reich collaboration. Already twice in the history this collaboration skunked in blood and slavery almost whole Europe.

    That is why former Polish government of Law and Justice party fought alone and hard to amend that Treaty. Germans opposed them stubbornly and Poles managed only to add amendment that prolongs that Reichs full domination of the EU for a decade. That is probably the reason why they made that treaty so complicate so people will be unable to work out what this treaty is really about. And certainly it is one of two reasons why German media mounted unpretending slander campaign at former Polish prime minister and his brother who is president of Poland. As Celtic and Slavic, Irish and Polish peoples are victims of the same Germanic assault throughout the ages with all revealing parallels — lets learn from each other experiences and unite in building united Europe but on just principles with no place for crypto imperialist or colonialist principles and laws.

    Please understand that since 1990s German Anschlus of Prussia renamed quite recently ‘East Germany’ it is clearly emerging that political, economical and propaganda aims of Berlin is a gradual and soft Anschlus of all former colonial Reichs of Germany through EU manipulation. Mentioned Frank Reich or ‘Frankreich’ is a full and correct name of France in all-Germanic languages except English. Austria is called in those languages Osterreich. That is because Germans by terror created colonial states in Western and Central Europe that curry on Germanic political ethos especially in foreign policy. Prussia was also German Reich colony on western Polish people lands. That is why they turned now against Poland to get whole Prussian partition of Poland.

    Germans traditionally called whole Poland and Prussia Wendland; its peoples were called Wendisch, Wends that is Vents. Venti, Wendisch are Slavs, Slavic synonyms, but much older. Till 19 century beginnings of ‘scientific’ proto-Nazism proper Germans called Prussia Wendland. This name survives in Germany to this very day between Hamburg-Hanover line and river Elbe (see present map of Germany).

    Do you remember German academics dr. Goebels or dr. Mengele? Their lesser-known Nazi colleagues were never removed from German and Austrian universities. They taught new generations of German students till their retirements or deaths in 1960s and 1970s. Students of that old Nazis are now in power in Germany. But they learned on their past mistakes and now use politics, economics, media, especially Internet in their expansion and Germanization. (For more details and parallels see also my previous comments under former article)

  30. shtove

    Observer said: “Great result……. now we should consider changing the EU to suit ourselves or leave …”

    … and rejoin the UK!

    The day before this vote the DUP were up to the usual unionist tricks at Westminster, keeping a British government in power on a vote that paves the way for internment without trial. Haven’t you heard this story before? It’s very old.

    This was a legitimate decision by the Irish electorate, but Peter Robinson will be rubbing his hands with glee at the result – because he knows that Ireland can’t survive as a state, and in the countdown to dissolution his side has just been handed a large advantage.

    Interesting times ahead for Irish nationalists who don’t get the bond markets and couldn’t give a shit about the solvency of the state. Self determination, but on a budget of pennies. Cents not accepted.

    As the Americans say, Got popcorn?

  31. “The message here and on the continent is that the privileged are pro-European and the average bloke feels alienated from this elite.”

    Some comments I made on my blog:

    The message here is NOT just that the average bloke feels alienated from the privileged, pro-European elite — average blokes are starting to wake up to the fact that they are losing out economically in the EU (or will do in the long run) and are generally being screwed over by the EUrocrats and the privileged, pro-European elite. Make no mistake about it — the outcome of the vote represents not just an isolated disagreement over the EU. What we’ve been witness to is one episode in an ongoing class war.

    Native populations right across Europe have been at the receiving end of a two-pronged attack from the EUrocrats/privileged elite over the past few years (decades?): 1) the strong encouragement of mass immigration between EU nations as well as from outside Europe; and, 2) the scrapping of minimum wage laws/agreements.

    The importation of cheap labour (number 1 above) only serves to depress wages for all workers — native populations and immigrants alike. Cheaper and cheaper labour, of course, benefits the privileged classes who can suddenly afford more and more luxuries. The chattering classes don’t care if their fellow citizens are screwed — and they certainly don’t care if more distant populations suffer. Cheap labour is good — at all costs.

    Number 2 above speaks for itself (as did FF Cllr Jimmy Mulroy earlier this year) — get rid of minimum wages and, obviously, labour will be cheaper.

    I write mostly about immigration issues here on the aul’ blog and it’s pretty apparent to me that the same people who are pro-Europe are also pro-immigration. Again, ’cause of the cheap labour (and, because they can afford to, they can be all sanctimonious about immigration — a position that offers mega-amounts of social status points these days).

    http://hiberniagirl.blogspot.com/2008/06/irelands-chattering-classes-out-of.html

  32. Deco

    It seems that the Common Citizen, applied their Common Sense, and re-established the primacy of the Common Law. It is all so terribly common. One can only wonder what residents of the Ross O’Carroll Kelly (ROCK) belt in their “Terenure tractors” are chattering about now !! It seems as if the rabble have gone off and done something that was not permitted or instructed.

    The sophistication at the core ROCK belt is actually a maze of contradictions, all similar to the core of concept of the ‘peacocks feathers’. Yes it does look impressive, but it is functionally useless and hindrance in any competitive society. But then this is the essence of it. It is supposed to indicate that the Peacock can carry around such a hindrance and still be competitive. The aristocrats behave in a similar fashion.
    Irish society is still rife with neoptism. The Lisbon Treaty proposes to make Europe fit for competition by creating even more bureacracy. For those well connected this is good news. Great if you have degrees in Sociology/Politics/French Litreature from Trinners. But hardly relevant if you are from Tallaght, or Tuam, and you have just managed to get a degree in something useful like Engineering, thanks to hard work, brains, and savings. Asia is beating Europe, because Asia is concentrating on getting the simple things right, and increasing productivity. Europe seems to be following America in creating unproductive structures, processes. Europe is basically lost, because bureacracy is taking over.

    Maybe the ROCK belt need to get a grip of reality ?? The rest of the population has gone ahead, and reasoned correctly that less bureacracy is what is required to fix Europe, and not more. It is all so completely obvious, that only the sophisicated hyper consumer classes could be so stupid to miss it !! Or maybe those with a vested interest in bureacracy, and authority have no choice but to support the proposal. A bit like the urge within the DNA of a peacock to increase one’s feather count.

  33. Deco

    Philip – what use is having a commisioner to Ireland ?
    They are required to act in the common interest.

    Besides Pee Flynn, and Charlie McCreevy were sent to Brussels to make FF more accomodating to the media.

    And Blair sent Peter Mandelson to Brussels, because Mandelson was a proven consistent disaster in the UK. In Brussels nobody said a word against Mandelson.

    I agree with the Danish MEP Bonde. It is disfunctional, ineffective, corrupt, and unwieldy.

  34. [...] neoliberalismo, plutocracia, Referendo, referendum, totalitarismo, Tratado de Lisboa As predicted recently by economist David McWilliams, the Lisbon Treaty result hinged very much on a question of class, and access to wealth. [...]

  35. coldblow

    I remember Danny Cohen Bendit from when TV5 used to be on cable. He seemed ok but a bit of a plonker all the same. Now I know he was one of the leaders of the 1968 “rebellion” I can see why.

    A lot of very perceptive comments here. Hibernia Girl refers to class war. While the Eurocrats are faceless and at a remove from us they aren’t the enemy, any more than Roosevelt was the enemy of the ordinary American working man when he was elected. They do a boring job and I wouldn’t like to have to do it even if the pay and conditions are excellent. I think the EU are potentially our protection against the big corporations and finance (I know that sound so vague) – sorry for the repetition. The concentration of wealth needs to be addressed.

    Maybe the EU’s biggest crime as far as we are concerned is guilt by association with our own elite, who have always taken its side. It was mainly for this reason that I always voted no in the past, until this occasion. I was glad to read in John Waters’ piece in Friday’s Irish Times (which I rarely buy) that he seems to think much the same.

  36. [...] predicted recently by economist David McWilliams, the Lisbon Treaty result hinged very much on a question of class, and access to wealth. [...]

  37. lunchtime o'booze

    The airhead anti-globalisation crowd were a factor. They don’t realise that most of our progressive worker-friendly legislation has come from Brussels.
    Even more witless is the element in the Green party who don’t realize that this country would be an even filthier environmental slum were it not for the EU.
    Young dingbats also don’t realise the importance of the EU as a place where you can go to get a job when the going gets tough. They have had it easy for so long that they take the EU role in our prosperity for granted.
    My problem with the EU is that we have not given away sovereignty in the right areas. Why oh why can’t we get the fab continentals to run our health system and our transport?
    David. When are you going to come out for Libertas?

  38. This is just the beginning of a very intense debate.
    “Europe” is a “Wide Field”, as Fontane remarked.

  39. Maria King Schiro

    As a dual Irish-American citizen, passionate rural dweller, and, last but not least, eight year Planning Applicant (for a cottage on family owned land): I took great pleasure in voting “No”, in June, 2008.

    Why did I vote “No” on such a critical European Union Treaty? A simple two word concept, among others, contained in the Treaty, namely, that of:
    “Qualified Majority”

    Something which, as a former legislative intern, not to mention, Irish and United States political junke, I consider only slightly less terrifying than the matter of losing Neutrality, for a Nation such as ours, Ireland, today!

    Then, there is the very, very thorny matter of European Union procedures and policies which have, for decades, stymied rural dwellers, such as myself, from obtaining Single Rural Dwelling Planning Permission, on family owned land, in order to enjoy a quiet life in the Irish countryside. Meanwhile, those with links to the European mainland, or, even just to Brussels, can enjoy second, or third, holiday homes in Ireland, and, be guaranteed Planning Permission just for promising some local employment, while the rest of us, Natives or, like myself, whose Maternal grandparents were part of a long line of teachers and local farming stock in Connemara, are obliged to meet every European Union Mandate on our land as well as our Planning Applications, regarding Envionmental and Ecological standards, before our Planning Application for a House, can even be examined, let alone rejected (as mine has been, for 6applications in 7 years) by our Local Authority, as being unneeded, or environmentally obtrusive!

    So, lets ask ourselves this vital question: given that the European Union needs Ireland to Ratify the Treaty…isn’t it about time that the European Commission, Parliament and last, but by no means least, the European President ask themselves the following question (to provide a poor paraphrase of the late United States President John F. Kennedy quote)
    “Ask Not That Ireland Must Ratify The Treaty for the European Union. Rather, Ask What the European Union and it’s Administration Can Do For the Irish, in order for the Treaty to be Ratified”

    As a deeply disillusioned Voter and Citizen of Ireland, I, for one, will continue to vote NO to any Treaty that I consider to be a bad deal for Ireland, my Maternal Country. I will continue to vote NO to any European Treaty that I consider improves the scope and reach of Euopean Legislation where that Legislation, impedes, impairs or compromises the Right to live in and reap the benefits of Rural Life, in Ireland, for Irish people, such as me. Certainly, the onerous Planning Permission Process of Ireland today, thanks to the European Union Legislative Mandates that have been imposed on our Island Nation, since 1973, are so heavy and severe that only a fraction of indigenous, family linked, or needy Planning Applicants, such as myself, can from thousands who apply for Planning Permission, ever hope, in our lifetimes, to be granted the right to build, and live, on family land.

    So, yes, I remain a Euro Sceptic, and a NO voter, should the Treaty come before me. In my life time, I want to see Ireland’s political, social, economic and environmental policy returned to its first priority, the Irish people, rather than the holiday home owners; the temporary European Employers and European Union civil servants and Political Appointees. As a former American voter, the very concept of a “United States of Europe” makes my blood run cold, and, I suspect, the Founding Fathers of America, turn in their Idealist based graves.

  40. MARIA KING SCHIRO from Aughrushmore, Country Galway…it’s Sharyn Belkin, your childhood friend from Beethoven Street in Los Angeles. Please email me if you see this! sharynlocke@gmail.com

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