Jason OMahony - Irish political blogger, Irish politics, EU politics

We need to start negotiating with British eurosceptics.

Posted by Jason O on Oct 18, 2012 in British Politics, European Union, Irish Politics

Judging by the Tory annual conference, it seems fair to say that Britain is heading, one way or the other, towards a referendum on the European Union. Of course, there’s still a huge debate to be had over what exactly Brits will be voting for: a simple in/out, or to endorse a new form of membership negotiated by Cameron, or maybe even the biggest cop-out of all, a “mandate” to renegotiate. Whatever way it goes, Britain’s membership is up for a fundamental debate.

Pro-Europeans should not be afraid of this. In fact, we should welcome it, for two reasons. The first is that there is no universal agreement as to how this shapes up. Don’t forget, eurosceptics are terrified of losing a referendum in Britain. But more importantly, the future of the EU needs to be endorsed democratically by the people it effects. People say that issue should be decided in a general election, but that is nonsense, especially in a country that uses the monkey-throwing-faeces-at-a-wall voting system of first past the post. The people need to be consulted, and not just in Britain.

It’s time that the real options are put to the people in each country: a federal union based around the euro with mutualised debt and federal controls on overspending (including ceding the right to borrow), an outer “common market” ring which has single market access but no commissioners or access to EU funds like CAP, and exit from European integration itself. All voted on the same day in each member state, with the exception of Germany which, as the one vital nation, will have to vote earlier.

Such an idea tends to horrify my fellow pro-Europeans, especially those in Brussels, but the reality is that this union does not belong to the Berlaymont. It can only exist with the consent of the people, and that includes eurosceptics too.


Once a week, let’s give a single taxpayer back her money.

Posted by Jason O on Oct 18, 2012 in Irish Politics

Let’s be honest. In Ireland, if you obey the law, pay your household charge and road tax and TV licence, you are regarded by many as a bit of a mug. Yet without those people, this country would not function, so here’s a thought. Let’s recognise and reward those people who vote and pay their taxes and obey the law. Let’s pick one of them each week at random and give them back the previous year’s taxes, up to a limit of, say, €20,000, which will cover the vast majority of taxpayers. It’ll cost just over a million, which could take paid for by a price rise in the Dail bar. Let’s invite them to meet the Taoiseach and collect their cheque and be given a simple thanks for being a patriot and obeying the law. Sure, loads of people won’t be eligible because they don’t do what they’re supposed to do, and they’ll bitch about it, but so what? It’s time to tip the hat at the battlers and strivers who keep this country running.

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