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.