Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sinn Féin - Why Ourselves alone will not defeat Lisbon 2

The Lisbon referendum is just around the corner and the party is asking us all to get out on the streets and push for a "No" vote.

Mary Lou and others have been highlighting the consequences of a yes vote and she has stated that "These consequences include the erosion of Irish Neutrality, the weakening of Ireland’s position in Europe, the loss of the Irish Commissioner, the erosion of workers’ rights and public services, the loss of an automatic right to a referendum on future treaty changes, continued participation in the European Atomic Energy Community, advancing the cause of tax harmonisation, the promotion of common foreign and defence policies and the militarisation of Europe and much, much more."

However in my opinion if our argument is simply centred around these points then I feel we will loose this vote. One of the main reasons for my thinking that way is the fact that our opponents will simply say here we go again with Sinn Féin opposing another European referendum, as it has every single one since 1972. We will be accused of being petty nationalists who have more in common with the English Conservative Party than with progressive forces in Europe and our opponents will simply try to pigeon hole us and write us off.

The leadership will no doubt respond to these attacks by saying we are fully committed to the EU, but our record on every other referendum makes that argument sound very weak. We will also say that Sinn Féin wishes to see a Social Europe, but can somebody please tell me what this really means and how we are planning to achieve it.

Personally I agree with Pearse Doherty when he said "Those of us opposing the Treaty also have a responsibility to outline what we see as the alternatives to Lisbon. Saying no is simply not enough."

In my opinion we must not only look at the negative aspects of a "yes" vote, but we also need to convince the people that a "No" vote is positive thing for the ordinary people of Europe. We need to show them that across Europe there is mass opposition to the Lisbon Treaty (and surely if the treaty is as bad as we claim it is for workers’ rights and public services then the opposition will be there). We must bring people from other countries into the debate and show we have support from across Europe. This does not necessarily need to be leaders of political parties, but it must include trade unionist and leaders of other social groups. We need to demonstrate that Sinn Féin is a progressive outward looking party who along with other progressive groups across Europe has an alternative vision for a better Europe.


  1. Too late to be talking about this stuff. We need to just get out and vote against this treaty.


  2. iam a petty nationalist. personaly i don't see it as a bad thing. i believe that an irish nation exists that the healtyest function for the future of that nation is if decisions are taken on a basis of self determination.

    i accept that alot of progressive laws have originated in europe but am sceptical that that will last forever. if there is a social shift in europe at any time then at some point in the future laws may come out of europe that i disagree with as is happening and has happened to small irish famers and fishermen consitently. i work in neither proffesion so those laws don't affect me but some day they might so in my opinion relying on progressive laws indefinitly form europe is nieve. ultimity the nation state in my view is the best gaurenteur of rights and i want to protect that/create that, depending on your historical point of view.

    i've no problem with simlpely saying no or with SF saying no. if people call SF naysayers so what. it would say more about there inability to contruct an intelligent argument to what SF are saying that show up a weakness in SF consistently argueing a position from a republican or petty nationalist if you want stand point. SF are a republican party they have argued for the best part of 100 years for the creation of a nation state organised on republician principles, the EU while it has many benifits, by constitly pooling soverty, taking decision makeing abilities away from here is essentialy uspering irish sovernty.

    whats interesting about that from an irish view point is that that is happening with the consenus of the people through referendum which is there right. but it is the function of SF in referendum to argue against it being consistent with principles .

    petty nationalist

  3. Tom, to me it is far from being too late to bring in support from people in Europe. i am not saying that this should be the only tctic in the campaign, what I am saying is that it needs to be part of it.

    I understand what you are saying, but it is the leadership of the party who say we are committed to the EU. We will have the leadership saying that we support a different kind of EU and not that contained in the Lisbon treaty. So I ask you what is the type of EU we are committed to, who supports us in trying to get it, when and and how do we expect to obtain that Europe.

    I ask these questions because that is part of what we will be asked during the campaign. If we don't have answers then so be it, but they should stop saying Sinn Féin is fully committed to the EU and that we support a Social Europe (what ever that means)

  4. Starry Plough, you are up against it on this one. I think the vote will carry and SF will end up further out on a limb as a result. The arguments since last time round have not really changed but the recession will convince many or intimidate them - the result will be a fear of alienating Europe. Eoin O Broin was the most persuasive of all the campaigners last time round. I feel that Mary Lou fronting it will not be sufficient to win the day. As we see from today's poll there is musch there to be played for but it is not easy



  5. a social europe means a europe that values social services, health water education sanitation etc.

    europe is on a privatization buzz, neo liberalism etc, they believe the market is the best gaurentuur of services even in the lisbon treaty, it was writen before the banks colapesed and that ideology should have died, actualy worrying that europeen governments are still pushing the treaty, apaprently they haven't learned their lesson. more legal clauses in it that take government out of regulation open up matket etc

    how this fits in for SF. interesting question. do they want an integrated europe with strong social services, i don't think so adams when talking about it usualy empasises co-operation so maybe an allience of european states protecting essntial sevices, health education water etc sounds a bit bland but theres a commitment in the lisbon treaty for us to increase domestic military sending and contributions to the european defence agency. an obligiation to increase spending on health or education etc. supose thats the contrast between a social europe and the europe were getting.


  6. First of all I like the site - keep up the good work. It's hard to keep things going but hopefully the site will contribute to discussion within SF and beyond.

    As for Lisbon, there will be a core No vote irrespective of who leads the campaign.

    Alas, the economic situation, the lack of a capitalist cheerleader in the form of Libertas and one ojuously biased media campaign will almost ensure that a marginal change of 4 - 5% from the No camp to the Yes camp will be enough to carry the referendum through.

    Political reality in Ireland has changed beyond all recognition. Economics, having become the only topic of deemed worthy of political discussion, has been divorced from its social foundations. This leaves SF out in the cold for the time being. This is where SF should be. There is no coherent economic philosophy or practical policies being constructed from the left/progressive side of Irish politics. We are fairly good at highlighting the frailties and downright inconsistencies inherent in right wing economic thinking, but are dire getting a coherent message into the mainstream of political thought.

    Lisbon is but an extension of the current eco-political doctrine which has been exercised for the last decade and beyond - a few apparently meritorious individuals 'guiding' the gullible and financially illerate into servitude. What the Irish elite have all but accomplished in Ireland, the euro-elite will seek to do on a continental scale.

    While the consolidation of industries, assets and power will create a temporary atmosphere of perceived growth after Lisbon passes, the reality of a tiny elite dictating terms across a continent will fail as the dispossed slowly realise how they were gamed. Imo, I can only see fertile growth opportunities for the progessives and the left in the decades ahead. Unforunately, we will inherent a bankrupt economic and political landscape before we can begin to row back on the inequities of the current system.

  7. Tom, I agree with many points there. I disagree that Economics has been removed from its social roots but rather believe that it was left drift away regarded as something for right wingers only. How else to understand the utter ascendancy of free-market types over the last three decades.

    I agree that Sinn Fein must push its vision in a complete way, capable of challenging a right wing philosophy in an effective way. Thats true of all parties.

    Lisbon is very much the product of a philosophy thats exploded into chaos, and will continue to explode for years to come. Like the fall of communism the end of free-market knows best philosophy will have consequences for years.

    Focussing on SP's original post on Lisbon I saw how Jens Bonde the Danish MEP is over and also a UKIP MEP was over as well. Although not specifically at SF's invitation also more people are over but at the CAEUC's invitation -
    they have a lot of people coming over and SF is part of that broad coalition. I guess there is a trade off here. One the one hand working within that broad coalition helps the building of a network to advance Republicanism with like minded people and build friendships but on the other hand there is the need to get people over under our name.

    Its a question of balance i guess


  8. T MacAmhloaibh,

    saw your blog and your statement at the top that:

    Socialists can no longer afford to believe that the world ought to operate in a certain way. They must see the world and the people who inhabit it as they are. Only when we realise how we function in a complex environment can we begin to change the world. Practical solutions addressing today's problems are the only way to advance Socialist thought. Anything else is wishful thinking.

    reasonates 100% with me. Fine quote.

  9. I am worried this time, the Irish Govt has had much time to spread it's propaganda on Lisbon. They have controlled the media message for months.

    On a side note, I get so many people from around the world commenting on my blog about how great it was that the Irish voted no, asking us not to let them down this time.

    I hope people think and vote "no"

  10. Thanks for the comments anonymous. Well pleased :-). I would just like to clarify where I'm coming from on the social divorce from economics comment. I can easily agree with you about the 'drift' but I think a more fundamental analysis of why the drift has occured is called for in the years ahead. It's my belief that trickle down economics inherently implies that those who are not at the top, ie all the workers, must rely on a meritorious few to guide everyone's detiny without questioning just how meritorious or, indeed, how successful this self-proclaimed meritocracy performs. EG the same failures, who've given themselves massive salaries over the last decade, are still proclaiming their bona fides and ability to steer the good ship Ireland without question from the general population.

    On Topic: those who I know voted NO last time seem to be a wee bit unsure of the issues and some are just have become completely apathetic to all politics given our current circumstances. This vote, imo, will be won or lost in the Dublin City and commuter belt. The left is resurgent in Dublin and maybe the Socialist Party will mobilise big time, but we still have to contend with Labour support which seems to be growing.

    TBH, I see Lisbon passing. I also see the need for the Left to organise as a broad coalition across Europe in a meaningful manner. There will be re-regulation of banking. There will probably be an anemic economic recovery over the next several years, but the underlying fragilities of right wing economic dogma will continue to grow. We'll just have to use Lisbon, when the time is right, against the very elite who so desperately want it now.


  11. T MacA,

    You say that:
    "It's my belief that trickle down economics inherently implies that those who are not at the top, ie all the workers, must rely on a meritorious few to guide everyone's detiny without questioning just how meritorious or, indeed, how successful this self-proclaimed meritocracy performs.:"

    As much as we can argue against the inherent unfairness of hoping the wealth works its way to the bottom we can equally argue that from a cold point of view that system is very poor for creating wealth.

    By aligning the positive and cold economics with normative economics we can win using both arguments.

    back On Topic - the Labour party failed to its voters on Lisbon last time. Growing or not they may have no better success this time.

    I agree that if Lisbon is passed here, and avoids the other probably minor pitfalls in courts etc, that the Left needs to be ready to work it against its authors.

    How about using the petition feature to drive the agenda. As a united european left block thats a possibility.

    But thats making the best of a bad situation and if Lisbon is passed then we as a nation are in abad situation.


  12. Hello, anybody home?

    Well, anon, I don't think we'd disagree on too much. Maybe methods and message delivery - but isn't that was discussion and compromise is all about?

    Things are continuing apace with the publishing of the tax report. From the various sites I'm reading, it seems that the govt is intent on creating an enforced tax regime on the wage earner while making sure their so-called 'entrepenuerial' and meritorious brethern are left to maintain huge incomes and financial tax loop-holes. The 'Notes from the Front' and 'progressive-economy@tascireland' websites are doing a very good job of analysing the recent tax and public cuts documents in circulation from the independent think tank reports (yeah really independent).

    I know the Lisbon II (halloween II) re-vote referendum is probably taking up member's time, but a defeat of Lisbon or a defeat of NAMA makes a GE a real possibility.

    Does anyone think it's worthwhile to convene a wee web gathering and hash out some leftie analysis and document creation? Much of the SF material published already on the SF is excellent but we need to get the message out their as well.

    Right now the wage earner is apathetic and, I dare say, wholely ignorant of what is coming down the line. The proposals of govt and their cronies is setting the stage for a return to a hardening of class/wage outlines.

    Personally, I can't get on board with the SP's reliance on the old socialist methods of thinking and precriptions for economic development. At the very least, their methods are 19th century 'fixes' to industrial conditions that no longer exist and their methods diverged significantly from socialist thinking anyway imo.

    SF has the opportunity to adopt new and progressive economic principles (based on sound logic that can also adapt to changing circumstances) while re-adopting the main socialist platform that strives to free the individual within the complex of the inherent social contract.

    Anyone have any thoughts? ideas? Anything?

  13. T, I find myself in agreement with your post. On the issue of discussing policies then I think that would be no bad thing. In reality the potential of an ad hoc group of posters to formulate policy is limited. However by contrast the potential of a handful of posters to review, deepen and spread the understanding of policies is much greater.

    You said that:
    Does anyone think it's worthwhile to convene a wee web gathering and hash out some leftie analysis and document creation? Much of the SF material published already on the SF is excellent but we need to get the message out their as well.

    I think the more sites discussing, seeking to understand and pushing a credible Republican analysis will only stand to the benefit of the party.

    The impact of a site like this can be quite large as it gets picked up around the web and read by republicans and non-repubicans alike. Thats something that should not be underestimated in our efforts to circumvent what is a general and tacit agreement amongst the media to not really bother about SF.

    I do think that there is a scope for online work but that will be rather analysis and contribution, meaningful engagement and exploration such that maybe everytime we tried to deepen our own understanding of an issue we helped each other gain a deeper understanding of the SF vision. If a forum existed allowing SF activists , supporters and visiting readers to really explore SF policies in detail then thats an outstanding plus in my books and to the party's benefit.


  14. Thanks for the reply J.

    Actually, I'm thinking along the same lines as yourself. It's just that it's not easy for people from say Dublin, Cork, Monaghan and Antrim for example (all who might have a wee bit to add to a progressive agenda) to meet and discuss in the physical form.

    The internet is the perfect setting, but the problem of bona fides becomes of over riding importance and I wouldn't become involved only to have another party's members feeding off a web meeting. I don't have a problem with outside analysis and perspective but I do have a problem with certain parties who think they're rather clever and predatory.

    However, web pages are just too static. There has to be a methodology to advance the broad Republican agenda and specifically the progressive agenda on the net. It's a matter of starting small, experimentation and diligence. A site has to be more interactive and compelling.


  15. you suggest then a board or something similar to that. A type site for sinn fein supporters but without the time wasting. I think the labour partry has something of that nature for their members!