Saturday, May 17, 2008

Lisbon, Lisbon and more Lisbon

So the Irish Times had it latest poll on the Lisbon Treaty in today's paper. Yesterdays party results, FF lose a leader due to his financial wizardry and go up 8%, are far too surreal for serious political analysis. Time for a new electorate anyone?

Anyway the Lisbon Treaty poll shows that 35% intend to vote Yes, 18% No and 47% Don't Know. It would be interesting if there was a fourth option given to those polled, namely "What you talking 'bout" - I suspect that many of the Don't Knows are in this group.

That said the presence of tens of thousands of posters throughout the state provides a very visible nudge to the electorate that they are being asked to decide on something, and soon.

With 25 days to run the Yes side, although ahead on a 2:1 basis, are far from safe as the IT notes;

The first Irish Times poll during the Nice referendum campaign in 2001 showed the Yes side with a bigger lead of 52 per cent to 21 per cent, yet the No side won a month later.

This campaign is going to be decided in the last three days, the Yes voters and campaigners I have met and debated are uneasy and intend supporting the Treaty for largely emotional reasons or fuzzy logic; grateful to Europe, Europe is good, need to be in Europe.

By contrast the No campaign is clear on the dangers of the Treaty and the main groups have managed to articulate it in a precise fashion, and the most welcome and surprising development, in a sober manner without try to spin utter nonsense and ripping into one another.

I've two non constituency Lisbon events this coming week.

On Monday at lunchtime I am debating with Fine Gael MEP Gay Mitchell and Brendan Kiely of the Alliance for Europe, also speaking from a No perspective is Declan Ganley of Libertas.

The debate is a little different, its on a lunchtime in the KPMG office in the IFSC, the attendance will be mainly those working in the centre. Not exactly the people who will be hardcore Shinner voters.

Both Gay Mitchell and Brendan are aggressive debaters so while the panel may enjoy themselves there's a chance that it will become bogged down in too fine a detail on the text of the Treaty for many in the audience to engage with.

On Thursday I back to Dublin Castle for the last time in the current round of National Forum on Europe debates. Thursday features the new veliki sir. The format is protective of the guest speaker so I would expect Cowen to deliver a well researched civil servant written speech, light on whats good in the Treaty, but heavy on history.

Cowen's response to the questions he will be asked will be interesting; he can choose to evade the questions and finish content that he will have secured his 15 seconds and soundbite on the 6'O Clock news, or he maybe tempted to get stuck in.

Given that its not clear how much he knows about The Lisbon Treaty, any attempt by him to assert himself holds the real danger (for him) of making a false claim on the benefits of the Treaty.

Here's hoping he goes for the latter option.

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