If Breda O’Brien had any more hoary old chestnuts in this piece in today’s Irish Times, she could have held a conkers convention. I don’t often agree with her, as she holds more traditional conservative views than mine, but I also recognise that holding conservative views does not mean you should be denied a voice either. However, today’s piece does a neat job in summing up almost every unattractive trait that exists in the Irish psyche, which is quite an achievement.
Firstly, she declares that by being denied access to the European Stability Mechanism (the bailout fund) if we vote No (that is, refuse to obey its rules) we are being “bullied by an elite”. Just think about that for a moment. Angela Merkel is pushing this fiscal pact because she has to convince her voters that their money is being spent wisely, and that they’ll get it back. Does that make all 82 million Germans, worried about their money, a bullying elite? Is Germany not a democracy too? Or do Germans not really count as people too?
She then goes on to talk about how voters need to be better informed. Seriously? Having campaigned in a number of referenda, I can tell you that the dirty secret of Irish politics on that old one is not a lack of information, but a refusal of voters to actually read it. I have stood at doors with voters who have denied getting any information, until I pointed out the referendum commission booklet actually sitting on their hall table. What more can we do?
Breda then says that the fiscal pact with prevent Keynesian measures in a recession. No it won’t, provided countries built up a sensible reserve in the good times. Is that really such a bad idea?
Finally, out comes the old gun to the head routine. This is the self pitying aspect that most saddens me, the Irish, once again, as pathetic victim scrabbling in the dirt. There is no gun. We can vote No, and it will be accepted. And no, don’t start the “they’ll make us vote again” crack, because they don’t make us do anything. The Irish people were asked again before, by the Irish people, and they had the opportunity to vote No again, and they didn’t. That’s the thing though, isn’t it? That if the Irish vote Yes, they are being bullied, but if they vote No, it’s the legitimate voice of the people. Some animals are more equal than others, apparently.