tag: Election2008



6
Dec 2008

Obama's investment strategy

As a short addendum to my previous post, and to indicate exactly why Obama is not going to address the fundamental problems facing America — and the wider world — this article over at the BBC contains a revealing quotation from the man himself.

Now, let me preface this by pointing out that his plan for massive government investment in infrastructure projects is a sound one. The problem comes when you analyse the type of projects he wants to invest in.

We’ll invest your precious tax dollars in new and smarter ways, and we’ll set a simple rule — use it or lose it. If a state doesn’t act quickly to invest in roads and bridges in their communities, they’ll lose the money.

“New and smarter”. “Roads and bridges”.

Because that’s what America needs in an era of decreasing oil availability. More roads.

6 comments  |  Posted in: Opinion


1
Oct 2008

Vote Obama

I just posted this to an internet forum I occasionally use. It’s a classic hastily-scrawled five minute post, so don’t treat it like some kind of reasoned political treatise. All the same, it needs saying…

Before the Vice-Presidential announcements were made I was not willing to call on Americans to vote for Barack Obama. For lots of reasons, which I don’t need to go into, I didn’t think it would be a good idea to vote for him. That was not an endorsement of McCain of course. I just don’t believe in voting for the lesser of two evils unless there’s a massive gap between them.

Certainly Obama’s performance in the debate — endorsing biofuels and name-checking Henry “war criminal” Kissinger for any reason other than to demand he should be handed over to The Hague for trial — made me very uneasy. I see in Obama no more than a continuation of the corporate empire.

And in McCain I see roughly the same thing. He’s not a neocon like Bush, and the genuine differences between Obama and McCain have more to do with persona than politics. Yes Obama is the lesser of those two evils, but not by much. In those circumstances I’ve always believed in voting for a radical outsider even if they have no realistic chance of winning. Casting a vote shouldn’t be like placing a bet on a horse-race, it should be about stating one’s personal beliefs and nominating someone to speak in your stead. That it almost never works out that way is not a reason (in my idealistic eyes) to allow yourself to get tainted by a corrupt system.

HOWEVER, during the Bush Vs Kerry campaign, I suggested that a Kerry vote would be the best idea. Because although Kerry was indeed just another corporate puppet, he was up against the neoconservative tendency which needed to be opposed.

I saw McCain as being evidence that the Republican Party had ditched that ultra-right bible-thumping stance and returned to being merely the right-of-centre corporate party. Because whatever else you may say about him (and there’s lots to say) McCain isn’t in Dubya’s born-again camp.

But the more I see of Palin, the more I realise that electing McCain will put America within a statistically likely heart-attack of having an even dumber, even more vindictive and virulent religious neocon as president. That woman is incredibly dangerous and McCain is in his 70s. Not a good combination.

So don’t vote Obama because you think he’ll bring hope and change and apple-pie back to the American dream. He won’t.

But do vote Obama to make sure Palin never gets anywhere near the reins of power. She’s a menace and needs to be opposed.

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14
Jun 2008

You're welcome Michael

Upon hearing the news of the “No” vote, Michael Greenwell has graciously said “Thank you Ireland“. As I think has become clear, though, I’m rather ambivalent about the whole thing. Rejecting the treaty was emphatically the right thing to do, don’t get me wrong. My ‘X’ went in the correct box. But the question of what happens next is a pretty durn perplexing one.

See, here’s my thing… I’m a European.

I don’t mean that in a mundane geographical sense. It’s something I actually feel, and quite deeply too. I’m aware that this makes me somewhat unusual, but it’s just a direct consequence of my personal experience. During my life I’ve lived throughout Europe and called three other continents home at different times, as well as working for a spell on a fifth. If Europe and Europeans have something that genuinely unites them, then I would humbly suggest that I’m probably one of the people in a position to have spotted it.

And they do.

Obviously when you move around a lot, this is something you get to thinking about. As far as my experience of Europe goes, in my life I’ve lived in Greece, Ireland, Spain, England and Germany (for a 5 month project, but it involved dealing quite closely with German businessmen, local government and workers so I got fairly immersed during my short stay). Now, just for a moment I want you to consider how different those cultures all are. London to Athens. Cork to Berlin. Madrid to Dublin. And from personal experience… they are indeed very different. But despite this, they all share something intangible that you only notice is missing when you live in Cairo or — perhaps most intriguingly — Chicago, or when your local supermarket and dry-cleaners have a Sao Paolo address.

I can’t tell you what that “something” is. It doesn’t have a name. It is whatever property is possessed by a place that prevents the onset of culture shock. It runs far deeper than mere “familiarity”. For me… call it European-ness.

Culture shock, in case you’ve never felt it, is defined as “that sudden sense of vertigo experienced when you think ‘shit! that’s different over here’ more than seven times on each of two consecutive days”. It is quickly followed by a total loss in your own confidence to complete even the most simple and apparently mundane of tasks, and becomes chronic culture shock the moment the terrified rhetorical question “is this my home now?” crosses your mind. Chronic culture shock can involve severe agoraphobia and a worrying urge to watch BBC costume dramas on video.

Don’t get me wrong though, it’s completely temporary and is usually overcome when you discover something apparently trivial but nonetheless extremely pleasing about the place that makes you think “that is utterly fantastic… why don’t we do it that way back home?” After which point it lessens and eventually becomes a vague ambient exoticness that lingers in the strange voices on the radio and the way people move their hands when they greet one another.

I mean, without a doubt, some of the very best memories of my life are of the time I spent in Egypt; probably the place I felt most alien when I first arrived, but which I eventually fell in love with. And I am deeply smitten with Brazillian culture… the music, the people, the sound of the language, the landscape, the mango… oh god, the mango… South America is just fantastic. On the other hand, North America didn’t agree with me at all, which I found quite bewildering given how much American culture we’re all exposed to (New York is one of my favourite places in the world for a short visit, but living in Texas and later spending a year in Chicago damn near drove me insane).

None of which — by the way — and I think I’ve been pretty explicit that this is merely personal experience and observation, is meant to be taken as some kind of weird European “We’re Number One!” chant. Or a kind of eurocentric xenophobia. Far from it. Europe is screwed up in more ways than I care to mention. Maybe even more so than other places (and here I think specifically of South America, which has it’s own set of different problems of course, but there’s a certain attitude to the people which suggests that, in the long term, they may do better at dealing with theirs than we’ll do with ours). Certainly while experiencing the immediate effects of culture shock, a person is — in the most literal sense — xenophobic; scared witless by the alien-ness of the place they find themself. But that’s just an emotional / psychological reaction to a moment of extreme stress.

Have you ever left a party… a bit worse for wear… and decided that you can’t be arsed to wait for the night bus because your place is just about within walking distance. You’ve got your buzz on, and a couple of cans of beer to keep you company and you start hiking. At some point, vaguely frazzled by what seems like hours of walking (including that one estate that seemed dodgy and freaked you out a bit) you turn a corner and you see a familiar landmark… the shop you walk to when you run out of bread, and a momentary sensation steals over you. That’s the very same sensation I felt when I returned from Chicago to London… from Egypt to Greece.

Because of all this. Because I experience a very specific sense of dislocation in North Africa et al, but not anywhere in Europe; because of this, I’d go so far as to say that I feel more European than I feel Irish. Certainly I can’t say I feel any more “at home” in Dublin than I did in London (or even in Athens, despite the myriad massive and obvious differences).

What am I trying to say here? I guess I’m just saying that it saddens me that I had to vote against the Lisbon Treaty and I don’t feel any sense of jubilation whatsoever that “we won”. As comically surreal as the referendum was, I’m in no mood to celebrate. See, I wish it had been a document I could have supported. I really do. Elsewhere I’ve read the argument that the major failure of the Lisbon Treaty was it didn’t recognise the vast differences between the nations of Europe and instead proposes a one size fits all solution to the problem of how we organise our collective affairs.

There may well be something to that, and as I pointed out earlier, Europe is indeed a collection of very different cultures. I’m most definitely not suggesting that contrary to clear evidence we possess a single pan-European culture. Not at all; just that all these different cultures share common aspects and attitudes (as well as a geographical proximity) that make close cooperation possible and potentially very fruitful. So when nosemonkey writes:

Europe is not made up of one united people; we are many peoples with much shared history and culture, but with plenty that also divides us in terms of hopes, dreams and aspirations

while I can’t disagree with the strict wording of the statement, I feel compelled to disagree with its spirit. It’s been my experience that 90% of what divides Europeans is history. If anything it’s our “hopes, dreams and aspirations” that unite us.

7 comments  |  Posted in: Opinion


13
Jun 2008

Breaking News: Ireland sticks tongue out at Europe. Says "Na Na Na Naa Naaa!"

I’m finding this thing increasingly funny. The more I read, hear and think about it, the more surreal it becomes. 110 thousand random Irish yahoos (of which, let me stress, I was one) made an important decision affecting the future of almost half a billion Europeans, and the ‘No’ campaign are gleefully declaring “This is democracy in action”. I love it.

As I mentioned in the comments elsewhere though, I think we here in Ireland — yes, even us ‘No’ voters and even us Bertie-bashers — should maybe feel a tiny bit rueful that we didn’t wait a few months before hounding the (allegedly) corrupt bugger out of office. When it comes to pressing the Irish case in Brussels, Bertie would have been in his element. I’m not sure we can say the same of Brian Cowen.

1 comment  |  Posted in: Opinion


12
Jun 2008

Referendum Day

Well I’m just back from casting my ‘No’ vote. I had a brief chat with one of the people running the polling station who told me that turn-out has been quite low so far (though from what she’s heard, it’s a good deal lower elsewhere). Of course, there’s still another couple of hours to go and traditionally the 7pm to 9pm slot is busiest out here in the commuter-belt.

All of the media reports thus far seem to suggest that it’s going to be very very close indeed, but that a low turn-out could present problems for the ‘Yes’ campaign given that anti-Lisbon sentiment appears to be more deeply-held than the pro-Lisbon line.

It’s the first time I’ve ever voted in a referendum as it happens (it’s the first one we’ve had since my return to Ireland) and although I’m actually quite divided on this issue, the sections of the Treaty which appear to tie Europe to a disastrous energy policy were just enough to nudge me from abstention into voting against it.

I firmly believe in the European project and in a stronger European Union, which is why I’m so dismayed at this treaty. I’d much rather be voting in favour of closer integration, but not if it means giving my tacit support to the building of new nuclear power stations.

Incidentally, I’m 100% convinced that I could have won this referendum for the ‘Yes’ campaign by quite a decent margin (which may yet happen, of course). Having listened to several debates, as well as the impassioned pleas of politicians (almost always in favour of the treaty), there’s one clear trick that’s been missed. A month ago, the ‘Yes’ campaign should have kicked off like this…

John Bowman: Good evening, and welcome to Questions & Answers. This week, amongst other things, sees the beginning of the Lisbon referendum campaign and our panel tonight will be discussing the treaty. Our first question comes from Nancy Peterson.

Audience member (Nancy): Simply put, could the panel explain why we should — or should not — vote for this treaty?

JB: Straightforward enough, one would think, why should we vote for, or against, the Lisbon treaty? First to Trade and Employment Minister, Billy Kelleher. Minister, presumably you support the Fianna Fáil position in favour of the treaty? Why should Nancy, and our other viewers, vote ‘Yes’?

Billy Kelleher: Good evening John, Nancy, ladies and gentlemen. There’s no question that the Lisbon Treaty is a difficult document to digest, but if you persevere with it then you discover that it’s a very very positive step not just for Europe as a whole, but also for us here in Ireland. I’ve heard it said, with no little contempt I might add, that voting for Lisbon is voting with your wallet. Frankly I find that insulting. Voting for this treaty is the right thing to do in principle, and I honestly doubt that many of those who will vote ‘Yes’ on June 12th will be doing so out of purely selfish motives………

And from that moment on; every time the ‘Yes’ campaign put forward its case in the media, it should have been accompanied by the phrase “voting with your wallet” in that same, throwaway, “actually we want to distance ourselves from this idea” kind of manner.

Because it’s a sad truth, but large numbers of people do vote with personal self-interest in mind. This is one of the (many) great flaws in representative democracy. “Personal self-interest” does not necessarily (or even regularly) equate with “what’s best for society as a whole”, so that elections often end up with large numbers of people deliberately voting against what’s best for society, in the belief — for instance — that a slight increase in their own personal wealth somehow offsets unsustainable economic policies.

Of course, there’s absolutely no evidence that the Lisbon treaty, if adopted, will be financially beneficial to the average Irish voter, but because no bugger understands the treaty, it would not be too difficult to present it that way (it’s very “business-friendly” after all). Once you have unconsciously linked a “Yes” vote with “Voting with your wallet” in the mind of the electorate, it becomes extremely difficult for many people to vote “No”.

Of course, both campaigns did attempt to do this, but it was always in pretty abstract language; “the treaty secures Ireland as a centre for foreign investment” says the ‘Yes’ campaign. “The treaty imposes European tax regulations upon us which will reduce our competitiveness when attracting foreign investment” says the ‘No’ campaign. Who do you believe?

In truth, you end up believing whichever one comes closest to your own personal prejudices. However, a sustained campaign which (with a modicum of subtlety) links “voting Yes” with “voting with your wallet”, bypasses personal beliefs altogether and becomes an unconscious drive within the collective psyche of the electorate.

3 comments  |  Posted in: Opinion


12
May 2008

Return to Lisbon (with a "No!")

Well, it’s been a few weeks since I first posed some questions that had been troubling me regarding the Lisbon Treaty and the forthcoming referendum in Ireland. I’m very grateful to all those who took the time to respond and who discussed the treaty, without acrimony, here on this blog. It’s refreshing to see a discussion of European politics that doesn’t end in a slanging match (or maybe I just spent too long in the UK).

Anyways, despite all that, I was still rather confused by the whole thing. The text of the treaty is — in my view — quite deliberately opaque. You can download the PDF here, but I warn you there’s very little point. You see, huge chunks of the text of the treaty (the majority, in fact) actually don’t state very much at all. Rather, they list amendments to existing treaties which are themselves scattered widely and not always easy to track down and cross-reference. Take this (entirely representative) example…

ARTICLE 2

  1. The articles of the Protocol on the Statute of the European System of Central Banks and of the European Central Bank, of the Protocol on the Statute of the European Investment Bank, and of the Protocol on the privileges and immunities of the European Union, as they are amended by the Treaty of Lisbon, shall be renumbered in accordance with the tables of equivalences set out in the annex to this Protocol. Cross-references to articles of those protocols which appear therein shall be adapted in accordance with the tables.
  2. References to recitals of the protocols set out in point 1 of Article 1, or to articles of those protocols, including to paragraphs thereof, as renumbered or rearranged by this Protocol, and which references figure in other protocols or acts of primary legislation shall be adapted in accordance with this Protocol. Such adaptations shall, if necessary, also apply in the event that the provision in question has been repealed.
  3. References to recitals and articles, including to paragraphs thereof, of the protocols set out in point 1 of Article 1, as amended by the provisions of this Protocol and which figure in other instruments or acts, shall be understood as references to recitals and articles, including to paragraphs thereof, of those protocols as renumbered or rearranged in accordance with this Protocol.
Treaty of Lisbon / Protocols / English Language Version / Page 78

From what I can tell, this is a set of instructions for renumbering various paragraphs in several other treaties and protocols. Now, there are clearly plenty of issues on which it is appropriate to consult the people, or vote in parliament. But the paragraph numbering system used within the Protocol on the Statute of the European System of Central Banks, as amended by the Treaty of Lisbon, just isn’t one of them.

This becomes problematic when you’re asked to vote on a treaty that contains page after page after page (after page) of this stuff interspersed with genuinely meaningful clauses and protocols. By burying the relevant information beneath a heavy blanket of bureaucratic fluff, one can be forgiven for wondering what exactly is being hidden from the voter.

I mean, it’s worth pointing out that the section quoted above appears to refer to “point 1 of Article 1″ of The Protocol on the Statute of the European System of Central Banks and of the European Central Bank (PDF file) which itself is no more than a reference to yet another treaty…

ARTICLE 1
1.1 The European System of Central Banks (ESCB) and the European Central Bank (ECB) shall be established in accordance with Article 8 of this Treaty; they shall perform their tasks and carry on their activities in accordance with the provisions of this Treaty and of this Statute.

The Protocol on the Statute of the European System of Central Banks and of the European Central Bank

And I am assuming (because it’s not explicitly stated) that “this Treaty” refers to “the Treaty establishing the European Community”. So to properly understand this tiny section of the Lisbon Treaty which appears to refer to something as genuinely insignificant as a paragraph numbering system, a person needs to track down and cross-reference it with at least two other separate treaties (in fact, it’s more than two).

This may seem like an insignificant point. And I’m well aware that such “bureaucratic housekeeping” is required when complex treaties are amended. But when you hear that somewhere within the 294 pages of the Lisbon Treaty is a clause that denies Ireland representation on the European Commission for five out of every fifteen years (one third of the time). And given that the European Commission is tasked with such minor issues as European Tax Harmonisation and European Energy Policy, I think you can be forgiven for becoming suspicious of the motives of those who decided to bury such important details within a blizzard of administrative irrelevance.

But being suspicious of the motives of the authors of the treaty still wouldn’t be enough to make me vote against something I don’t really understand (as opposed to merely abstaining). After all, when it comes to those who have sought and achieved positions of power, my default position is one of suspicion. Don’t get me wrong, it kind of goes without saying that some politicians are better than others. Bertie Ahern for instance — for all his faults… his many, many faults — would still get my vote if he was standing against Joseph Goebbels in an election. But that doesn’t mean I’d trust Bertie to look after my wallet, let alone the nation’s tax revenue.

The Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community

Here though, we unearth something I am more than willing to vote against. The first thing to point out is that The Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community (link) is an existing treaty which came into effect in 1958. This was prior to Ireland joining the EU, but when we did join (the EEC as it was then) in 1973 we nonetheless technically became signatories to the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community.

I’m more than willing to cut the voters of 1958 and 1973 some slack with regards to nuclear energy. The issues of sustainability, Climate Change and the overwhelming importance of energy policy weren’t part of popular consciousness back then. The arguments against nuke power, though just as valid then as they are now, were far from well-understood.

This is no longer the case.

The simple fact is that whatever else the Lisbon Treaty may say; whatever good it may do; if given the opportunity, I am compelled to vote against a treaty that explicitly promotes nuclear power as a central pillar of European energy policy. I want Ireland to be at the forefront of renewable energy development. I want us to be vocal advocates of wind and wave and tidal (and solar in southern Europe) and to be at the vanguard of the anti-nuclear tendency. A vote for Lisbon is a vote against this position.

Which means I’m forced into a corner I didn’t really want to be in. But every Irish vote for Lisbon is a vote against a sustainable European energy policy. So I must use my own vote to counteract one of those. I’m voting ‘No’ to Lisbon, and I urge other Irish voters to do the same.

7 comments  |  Posted in: Opinion


4
May 2008

Did I dream it? Or was it on telly?

It’s roughly two years since I moved away from London, and it appears — to paraphrase Ripley from Aliens — that IQs have dropped sharply since I’ve been gone. Seriously London… Boris Johnson?! What the hell is that all about? Did they open the polling booths at 2am and you all voted in the midst of a late-night ketamine binge? Or is this some kind of subversive plot to discredit the tories in the long-run; y’know, let them wreck your town and hopefully it’ll stop them wrecking the country…? If so, then let me be the first to say that I admire the nobility of your sacrifice.

But the thing is; that’s not what happened, is it? What happened is that Londoners turned out in relatively large numbers to support Boris Johnson because they think he’s the best person for the job of running their city. I’m sorry, I need to say that again because it’s still not sinking in… Boris Johnson is now running London.

That’s just mad.

The only reason everyone knows Boris Johnson far better than they know Patrick Cormack (Tory MP for South Staffordshire, in case you’re wondering) is because Boris Johnson is the blithering idiot MP who can be relied upon to act like a fool on telly. It’s not his rapier wit that gets him on Have I Got News For You? It’s the inherent absurdity that this upperclass twit actually holds a position of power. He’s there to laugh at. And it’s funny because he’s only one MP out of hundreds, and the only people voting for him are the wealthy residents of Henley.

Until now. It’s really not funny any more, London. You’ve voted for a man who has pledged to “scale back the congestion charge”. Let’s not mince words here, he wants to make it easier and cheaper to drive a car into the city. In a world of record oil prices, of a potential peak in production, a world in which Climate Change threatens catastrophic consequences; you’ve given the job of running Europe’s largest city to a man who actively seeks to encourage private car use? You fucking idiots!

3 comments  |  Posted in: Opinion


18
Apr 2008

The Lisbon Treaty – 6 questions

You all know the drill by now. Some abstract general principle gets illustrated by what is ostensibly a fairly innocuous news item. Predictable? I prefer the word “reliable” myself.

Anyways, in this case it may seem like you’re getting a blog post about European politics, but the point I want to make goes far beyond the Brussels bureacracy. I have to say though, that European politics can be a tricky topic for me. I’m extremely ambivalent about the whole thing and if I’m not careful that can come across as self-contradictory, as opposed to nuanced (anyone else notice the upsurge in things being “nuanced” since the Archbishop episode? No? Only me then). On the one hand, my first instinct — and with very good reason — is always to be suspicious of the undertakings of politicians. On the other hand, I’m very much in favour of “the spirit” of the European project.

And I think, therein lies the central problem. The undertakings of politicians is what happens when we try to structure the spirit as word. It’s an unpleasant spectacle, and it ends up being destructive for society as a whole. That said, I believe we’re smart enough to work out a way of not doing it anymore. And I’m serious about that by the way.

Chances are, though, we won’t get that done by June. That means the Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty will almost certainly go ahead. Which, to be honest, I’m having great difficulty understanding. And I’d be more than grateful if any reader could clear up my confusion.

My confusion exists on a whole bunch of levels. So bear with me as I try to disentangle them and lay them before you in a discrete manner, as opposed to the Escher-designed gordian knot made entirely of pan-dimensional moebius strips in which they currently exist.

Firstly, a rather simple query. I’ve been told by two separate people (neither of whom are generally given to conspiracy theory or unreliable flights of fancy) that the European parliament has actually voted to ignore the result of the Irish referendum should it be in the negative. However, I cannot find any verification for this. Does anyone know the full story?

Secondly, if that’s not the case and an Irish “No” vote will sink the treaty, how can that possibly be described as even vaguely democratic (which is surely the whole point of a referendum)? The expanded EC has approximately 460 million citizens. Ireland is the only nation holding a popular vote on the Lisbon Treaty, with all of the other nations planning (as of now) to ratify it through parliament. Ireland has a population of a little over 4 million people, of whom roughly 3 million are eligible to vote. So even if there’s a massive turnout (an unlikely 90%, say) and a large majority of them cast a “No” vote (an unlikely landslide, with 75% against the treaty), it still means that a treaty ratified by every other state (representing 456 million people) will be overturned by the decision of 2 million Irish citizens. And in reality, if the Irish do vote “No”, it’ll be a much closer vote based on a much smaller turnout. It could be as few as 1.2 or 1.3 million people who scupper the treaty.

It’s stretching the definition way beyond breaking point to describe that as “democratic”.

Thirdly, if we Irish vote to reject the treaty, then what happens? The “Yes” campaign paint a dire picture of Europe grinding to a halt. Or else of Ireland becoming marginalised, perhaps even forced out of the European political system (which would be a singularly difficult process for the nation, given our total economic integration with the continent up to and including our adoption of the common currency). The “No” campaign insist that nothing of the sort would occur and that Ireland can sink the treaty with little or no negative consequences. I suspect the truth is somewhere in between, but given the complete inability of the political classes to offer a balanced view, it’s very difficult to know exactly where — in between — the truth lies.

Fourthly, what the hell does the treaty really propose? The “Yes” campaigners insist that it’s all about tidying up current European legislation and that, in fact, it’ll have little or no impact upon individual nations. If that were true, then why on earth is a referendum required? Why can’t this all be done in the European parliament in the same way that national parliaments are capable (in theory) of handling such irrelevant bureaucratic issues internally? The “No” campaigners, on the other hand, insist that this is nothing less than a complete abdication of national sovereignty. Here in Ireland, we will lose our valued neutrality. More than that, we will be transferring huge amounts of power to Brussels and away from our own parliament. But if that were the case, then why do the vast majority of Irish politicians support it? These are not people whose natural tendency is to loosen their grip on the reins of power.

Fifthly, why on earth is it so difficult to unearth objective and balanced information on this issue? I understand that many people must have a vested interest in either a “Yes” or a “No” vote. But are there no honest commentators? Nobody willing to explain — in relatively simple terms — exactly what impact this treaty will have on my life, and their own? I’m not suggesting that the issue isn’t complex, or that it should be “dumbed-down”, but the text of the treaty itself is absurdly opaque and basically unintelligible (and I speak as someone who regularly reads dense academic papers written by over-intellectual neurotics who haven’t interacted with the real world in 40 years). Why, exactly, should I vote “Yes” (or “No”) to Lisbon?

Sixthly, given all of the above — and the fact that most voters won’t even make the limited attempts that I’ve made to better understand this treaty — who on earth believes that a popular vote is a suitable manner of deciding whether or not to adopt Lisbon?

Like much of modern politics, this whole thing has got an air of the surreal about it.

25 comments  |  Posted in: Opinion