Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ding! Ding! Lisbon Treaty round 2 has started already!

Well that didn’t take long did it? Hardly had we a chance to pause for breath but Brian Cowan has told EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso that he is going to call another referendum because they didn’t get the result they wanted, although they won’t be so quick to admit it.

We don’t really need to labour the point about how undemocratic this is. No, hold on a minute – yes we do! There will be all sorts of dust kicked up about declarations and protocols attached to the Treaty when it is eventually put to the vote again but they will all mean nothing. How do we know that? Because when the French and Dutch workers told the EU constitution to get stuffed they gave them the Lisbon Treaty instead, with next to no significant difference except that the French and Dutch weren’t allowed to vote again.

It’s also undemocratic because the Irish vote was a vote of EU citizens which, if the EU really was democratic, would count in a Europe-wide vote. In other words it’s not a matter of the Irish being given this or that assurance. Despite the largely nationalistic content of the No campaign this was a European vote against militarism and neoliberal economic policies across Europe. It was a defence mechanism not just for Irish workers but for all European workers.

This means we should say to Sinn Fein and anyone else who wants to negotiate, or rather get Cowan to negotiate, a series of opt outs on our behalf – and what a joke that idea is –that that’s not what we voted for. We voted for all of us to be spared the race to the bottom that the EU has planned in the name of competitiveness.

This means we immediately need to start building a truly internationalist, a really democratic and necessarily socialist opposition.

The No camp has now been told – rhetorically because they would never dream of letting us do it in reality - that we should put forward what we want the EU to do now. Well let's start with determining what this means.

First we now realise, if anyone was ever in any doubt, that the idea that the Irish State was now out of the domination of an empire is nonsense. Ireland is not France as they say. We can get stuffed but this could never be said to one of the major imperialist EU powers. This means we must unite with workers across Europe also opposed to Lisbon because we will not defeat it by ourselves.

It means demanding a really democratic European organisation - a Constituent Assembly to decide how we really want to be governed. This would mean putting together a constitution that embodied not the rights of free markets, of money, but the rights of workers, women, youth and immigrants to real freedom, and control of resources to deliver a Europe dedicated to its people and not profit. But a Europe for thoseat the bottom will have to be built from the bottom - from mobilising workers in Ireland and across Europe.

The fight has only begun. We have been told by our enemies we don’t have an alternative. Socialists need to put forward exactly what it is. No more hiding behind broad campaigns. It’s time to fight for the socialist No, and also a socialist Yes to what we really want.

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