What does the Irish “No” vote mean for Europe?

No pro-European can be happy with the Irish “No” vote.

It leaves a huge question mark over the future of the Lisbon Treaty – and coupled with the past “No” votes in France and the Netherlands for the more radical Constitutional Treaty, suggests a continuing inability to marshall our arguments successfully against the diatribes of populist misrepresentation of “No” campaigners.

Can Lisbon be rescued? Only the Irish Government can answer that question – but they should be asked to answer it sooner rather than later. The usual diplomatic practice of playing the long game, letting the dust settle and negotiating a backroom fudge should not be promoted let alone accepted by pro-Europeans. First, because prolonged uncertainty this time will be more damaging to the European cause than a decisive approach, whatever the conclusion. Second, because a result where opinion is utterly ignored could fatally wound the longer term reputation of the European Union.

If Lisbon dies, what then? The impact on the day-to-day workings of the EU will be surprisingly small. Lisbon was not necessary to make the EU work – its objective was to make it work more efficiently and more democratically. Yet institutional change is not the only way to improve efficiency, or, for that matter, to address the democratic deficit. The loss of Lisbon will prevent faster progress on co-operation on tackling international crime, which is in my view the biggest loss. However, the EU can still continue to make progress tackling climate change and completing the single market without Lisbon. Since Lisbon was only ever a relatively minor Treaty – different in that respect from the Constitutional Treaty because it sought only to amend past Treaties not replace them – then it follows that if Lisbon is lost then it’s a minor setback, not a crisis.

However, it is in the perception of Europe – and thus the follow through to the politics of Europe – that the loss of Lisbon would be most keenly felt. The best response is therefore to be clear: no more institutional change. The EU should focus on the dull and boring work of delivery, focusing on the prizes it delivers so well – trade and prosperity, peace and democracy. In a world becoming less secure and in a world where global shocks in oil and food prices can hit ordinary people hard and sudden, the case for Europe will be made better without the confusion of a Treaty.

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66 Comments

  • Hurrah for the Irish. After the backtracking in this country by a party far too close to my heart on a real referendum, and the the failure to give one in the other two states where it was rejected before, at last one in the eye for the centralising bureaucrats in Strasburg. I fail to understand why so many in our party are still so massively pro EU. It is almaost as if some people regard being so as the touchstone of being a Liberal Democrat. So often I see it behaving either anti-democratically or in totally illiberally. To me this creeping centralisation is as big a threat as almost any other to our liberties.

  • Well said Ed. The sooner the EU concentrates on the many things it does well, the better. Keynes once said that economists should aspire to be like dentists, boring but necessary. Perhaps the EU should do likewise for a while.

  • “What does the Irish “No” vote mean for Europe?”

    All it should mean is that nothing changes and things will continue as they have been before. The old treaties will remain in force. The rules don’t need to be changed all the time, it seems it has become some kind of a obsession to the ruling class of EU to to leave their mark in its legislation.

    And I really hope that the EU elite stops trying to press a new treaty on people at least for a while. Maybe they could try a new one after 20 or 30 years, but if they keep on pressing until people “get it right”, it is likely they are making a great disservice to the whole organisation by damaging people’s trust in its democratic process.

  • >No pro-European can be happy with the >Irish “No” vote.

    Eh, yes they can Ed. Quite a lot of pro-europeans are very unhappy that 35 years after the Uk joined, the EU still has the monthly treck to Strasbourg farce.

    Pro- Europeans are unhappy that Fish are caught and thrown back into the sea – not protecting fish stocks or fishermen, but beaurcracy.

    Pro-europeans are unhappy that MEPs lining their own pockets with expenses claims that are basically fraudulent

    Pro-europeans are unhappy about widespread finacial irregularities

    Pro-europeans are unhappy the unelected commission or indirectly elected ministers take decisions while the european parliament is plagued by political fringe partie and has few powers.

    Did the Lisbon Treaty address these issues? If it had, it might have been a lot more popular.

    The huge weakness is for the Lib Dems is to pretend the choice is in or out. No, No, No, if we are in, the question is what kind of EU do we want ? Sorry Ed, if the only choice is take it or leave it, then people will want to leave it.

  • I agree with a lot here. I’m always proud to be a Liberal when our party takes a principle and honest stand, even ordinary people who aren’t Lib Dem supporters respect us… until it comes to the EU where having taken the moral high ground under Paddy Ashdown, we now come across as unprincipled and ‘establishment’ as the others.

    It’s a mammoth task, but I think a completely new Treaty needs to be built, from the bottom up, by the people of the EU.

    I suspect that most people are happy for their nation to be in the EU, but want a looser union, a confederation of sovereign states working together.

  • And all that nonsense about whipped abstentions was for nothing …

  • M.R. Hutchins 14th Jun '08 - 10:11am

    The Irish (alone) have had their democratic say – and they said ‘No’

    Had the British not had their fundamental democratic rights stolen (with the aid of the Lib Dems) they too would have said ‘No’!

    How can this Party get away with calling itself Liberal and Democratic when it is clearly neither?

    People will remember for a long time to come that the Lib-Dem Party has consistently conived at the destruction of our democracy.

  • Acton wrote: “I think a completely new Treaty needs to be built”

    Why? Can you single out what’s wrong with the old ones?

  • There is a simple (but controversial)solution to the problem the Irish people have created. Ireland should leave the European Union and allow the remaining countries ratify. They can then re-apply in the future on take it or leave it terms.

  • Jeremy Hargreaves: “The response that after three referendum “no”s this all now seems like too much trouble and so we should just forget about the whole idea of new treaties, is I think completely understandable – but I also think it’s completely wrong, as I’ve set out here.”

    So you mean, that the democraticly expressed opinion of the people can be just ignored, if it is, according to the elite, ‘the wrong one’.

  • Boldkevin wrote: “There is a simple (but controversial)solution to the problem the Irish people have created. Ireland should leave the European Union and allow the remaining countries ratify. They can then re-apply in the future on take it or leave it terms.”

    The problem hasn’t been created by the Irish people, but by the ruling elite and their lackeys who want to ignore the opinion of the people. This time the Irish people were the only ones who were allowed to express their opinion, but it is likely, that if politicians in certain other countries wouldn’t have betrayed their promises which they gave before elections, the Constitutional Treaty would have been rejected in other referendums, as well.

  • Chuck them out – they clearly don’t want to be part of the EU as it is envisaged. 18 countries have ratified this treaty and the rest will in the next few weeks. Why should they all go back to the drawing borad just for half million Irish people. Let those that want to get on with it. Ireland can apply to rejoin some years down the track if it feels more comfortable.

  • “Chuck them out – they clearly don’t want to be part of the EU as it is envisaged.”

    Envisaged by whom? By you, or by the people who were denied the vote that was promised? The only difference between UK and Ireland is that the Irish politicians seem to keep their promises.

  • Ah but as I understand it, no one can leave the EU until at the moment. So the now failed treaty itroduced a clause on leaving.
    So failig to sign up means you can’t leave.

  • Anonymous – Nobody promised a vote on the Treaty of Lisbon! And if it is the same document as before why are all these countries ratifying it again?

  • Karen Synott 14th Jun '08 - 1:32pm

    “Why should they all go back to the drawing borad just for half million Irish people.”

    Just half a million Irish people? That’s still 490,000 more than the other ‘people’ who have had an opinion on the Treaty. Guido’s lanced that little smear here.

    http://www.order-order.com/2008/06/bbc-reporting-insults-irish-democracy.html

    “Ireland can apply to rejoin some years down the track if it feels more comfortable.”

    Rejoin? It’s already joined. It’s a member whose people don’t like the direction it was going. Live with it. If a Treaty can’t be ratified then the present Treaty is the status quo. Isn’t that the way liberal democracies work?

    All your statement of the EU having some arbitrary power to expel a members state does is show that the ‘No’ campaign were right to say “Don’t be bullied”.

    Ed Davey – “No pro-European can be happy with the Irish “No” vote.”

    Low Ed, low. You know quite well that being against Lisbon does not make one anti-European. However arguing that deals done by Government Ministers at Lisbon should be blindly accepted isn’t very democratic or liberal.

  • “Anonymous – Nobody promised a vote on the Treaty of Lisbon! And if it is the same document as before why are all these countries ratifying it again?”

    There’s no essential difference, but it is ratified again, because the places of few commas were moved and the title was changed, so that an illusion could be created that it is a different treaty, and it could be pressed on people again, though people in France and in the Netherlands already rejected it. That doesn’t change the fact that it’s essentially the same treaty, and there should have been a referendum.

    To quote Abraham Lincoln: “How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.”

  • I remain amused by all those calling for EU reform (which is needed), which they state as the reason for being against the treaty. So in order for reform, you don’t want any?

    My opinion that those who are anti-EU have no interest in reform, as reform would harm their agenda, continues to gain credence.

  • David Evans 14th Jun '08 - 3:30pm

    Dafs said:

    Chuck them out – they clearly don’t want to be part of the EU as it is envisaged. 18 countries have ratified this treaty and the rest will in the next few weeks. Why should they all go back to the drawing board just for half million Irish people. Let those that want to get on with it. Ireland can apply to rejoin some years down the track if it feels more comfortable

    The problem is (from a liberal viewpoint) that those were the only half million allowed to vote. I believe they represent a majority in many countries now, who were disenfranchised by their so called representatives (from a democratic viewpoint). The question is Dafs do we believe in liberalism, democracy or just the EU? I know where I stand.

    Regarding Ed’s piece, I’m afraid I disagree with a lot of what you say. Your emphasis on the “diatribes of populist misrepresentation of “No” campaigners”, does a great disservice to those like myself, who judge the EU on what it does, not what people say it does. The real question is not can Lisbon be saved, but can the EU ever be reformed to be Liberal and Democratic. You say Lisbon was to make it so, but from my viewpoint, having failed to be Liberal and Democratic in the past, it is now saying, give us more power to be more Liberal and Democratic – I say get what you are doing now right and I may consider it, but a bit more democracy for a lot more power is a bad deal.

    Finally, I don’t believe that when you claim that the EU has delivered trade and prosperity, peace and democracy. Trade and prosperity and peace are a product or our those European societies growing up in themselves after WW2, not due to setting up the EU, and if you think the EU is democratic …. As my old dad used to say, “I know politicians lie to me and it is very difficult to work out exactly what is the lie when they speak my language, but when they speak fourteen other languages as well, I know I have no chance.”

  • “I remain amused by all those calling for EU reform (which is needed), which they state as the reason for being against the treaty. So in order for reform, you don’t want any?”

    You mean any reform will do for you, no matter whether it’s for good or for bad? I think there are some things in EU which should be reformed, but the Lisbon treaty doesn’t do anything about them, and on the other hand it makes some things worse. I’m not for reform just for reform’s sake, it must be a good reform, and thi isn’t.

    I remain depressed by all those calling for EU reform without knowing why and what kind of reform.

    As it is, it’s better to keep the treaties as they are if those wanting to tamper them don’t have any clear idea what they are doing and why.

  • Half a million Irish people against the ten millions of people in those countries that have ratified the Treaty! So some countries choose the representative democracy route but that is up to them as for many there are good reasons (Germany for example) why popular mandates are not held; it doesn’t lessen the validity just because you don’t like the decision. Besides, many countries have held elections since the Constitutional Treaty (France and Spain to name but two)so the people had the opportunity to kick out parliamentarians who were going to support thr Treaty of Lisbon if they wanted. I repeat why should Ireland hold the rest of the EU to ransom? Chuck them out!

  • “Half a million Irish people against the ten millions of people in those countries that have ratified the Treaty!”

    NO. Half a million Irish people against the few hundreds or thousands in those parliaments that have ratified the Treaty! Can’t you count? Those millions in the countries that have already ratified the Treaty didn’t have a say!

  • “So some countries choose the representative democracy route”

    They, like France and the Netherlands, chose that route only because the referendums gave the “wrong” answer. It’s not any kind of “democracy”, that if the majority of the population is against, the politicians tamper few words of the text and then pretend it’s a different Treaty and they don’t need to ask the opinion of the people this time. The reality is, that they don’t ask, because they don’t accept that the people might disagree with them.

  • Anonymous – I think you’ve lost it mate! Discussion over as far as I’m concerned.

  • passing tory 15th Jun '08 - 8:23am

    No pro-European can be happy with the Irish “No” vote.

    Well Ed, that depends on what you mean by pro-European. This is the nub of the problem.

    If by pro-European you mean that you are tucked neatly into the European political class and like the way that the EU currently operates then you probably won’t be happy.

    If, however, you are a pro-European member of the demos that rather objects to said European political elite, an elite that seems intent on knowing what is best for the people while governing outside any direct democratic control, then you are probably pretty happy.

    It is insane that you seemingly consider that anyone who does not conform to your narrow view of pro-European-ness must be anti-Europe.

    Solve the blatant democratic deficit, crack down on the corruption / money wasting and derail the gravy train and I think you will suddenly find a lot more trust in the EU.

  • can anyone tell me what was actually wrong with this treaty?
    cos i study eu politics and it seems wuite good to me…..more co-decision, more power for us……more QMV, less chance that sum little country could simply stop whole legislation going through (and due to lisbon if they realy didnt like it then its now easier for them to opt-out)…..a smaller more efficient commission, there were to many people for too many jobs and to act like it makes a difference whether u hav a representative init is a joke cos they work in the interest of the eu not their home country…the only things wrong init were to do with tax harmonisation and maybe immigration, we have opt-out from these. and to act like £405 billion of regulation actually affects an economy as big as the eus especially when nearly a quarter of them money is spent on cap (lisbon would have given the ep say over cap, so we could finally of got reform done) and regional funds to help places like cornwall and northern ireland train workers is a joke!the press makes out like the all the eu is make regulation for regulations sake and uve fallen for it, it is true they legislate oin the environment and business (something as liberals we should be happy about) and health &safety which is there to protect workers but most employment legislation we actually opt-out of!

  • to me, the most telling reaction has been the arrogance of the “Euroelite” who have basically decided:

    service as normal – stuff the electorate !

  • passing tory 15th Jun '08 - 11:46am

    Personally, I think that the biggest problem is that people don’t like the smarty-pants “political class” way of doing things that is endemic in Brussels. If I was to pinpoint a single point in Lisbon that would likely be a problem in practice it is the ability for the spheres of influence to be changed without further treaties (i.e. article 48).

    The reason that this is a problem in practice is that there is a complete lack of dialogue between the EU executive and the people. Indeed, it has been abundantly clear over the last few days quite how capable they feel of compeltely ignoring a plebiscite.

    It is notable in this context that the Lisbon document was INTENTIONALLY made as complex and unpenetrable as possible. This is not the action of an executive that wants to engage with its demos.

    Once you have a political class that is convinced it knows better than the people, and the tools to allow then to manipulate their own scope of power, you have the recipe for the complete breakdown of democratic government.

    I will actually agree with you that a lot of the smaller admin details make a lot of sense, but this sort of the vote is the only way the people of Europe have of telling the Eurocrats to sort out their affairs. And boy do they need to.

  • passing tory 15th Jun '08 - 11:57am

    I would add (because I can’t resist) that this is why I feel that the Lib Dem support of the way the EU is run is so at odds with the concept of localism. The EU is precisely not about handling power to the lowest level, it is about power being held by a high-level political class that keeps the plebs at arms length. That the Lib Dems enthusiastically support this state of affairs says a lot about the lack of depth in their beliefs concerning localism.

  • “I remain depressed by all those calling for EU reform without knowing why and what kind of reform.”

    The more comments I see against the treaty, the more convinced I am that very few people have even read a summary of what it does, let alone the whole thing.

    The Lisbon treaty certainly doesn’t reform everything that needs reforming, but are you seriously suggesting that the only time we can reform anything is when we reform everything?

    Can we have an actual argument against the treaty, not against the phantom boogey man we keep hearing about? It seems most of us agree that referendums should’ve been held, so please don’t bring that up again. I’ll just agree again and ask for an actual fact about the treaty.

  • I guess neither of you have even read the summary. It only takes a few minutes, but I guess something this important isn’t worth wasting that much time over.

    I’m unsure why such a document needs to be sexy, except as another meaningless reason to complain about.

    Neil Craig says a few things about previous treaties, nicely ignoring that Lisbon has clear sections that solve his problems. Convenient.

    Lawrence is wrong about the wider issue, as it’s an extension to the debate over the treaty itself. A debate worth having yes, but it’s nicely ignoring the main focus.

    European politicians not engaging people is hardly a European problem, it’s common at all levels of government. It’s something that needs to change, and surprise surprise, the Lisbon treaty made some headway to fixing this. That happening would be inconvenient for the anti-eu campaigners of course.

  • You’re suggesting the summary of the treaty is outright lying about the contents of the treaty? Could you point out where?

    The US constitution is a very different document, as should be obvious. The Lisbon treaty handles a number of issues that the US constitution doesn’t. Unlike the EU constitution, the Lisbon treaty isn’t as easy to read and understand, but I would have thought the fact that both of them spell out things in detail, rather than leaving items up to ‘interpretation’ by the evil EU bureaucracy would be something you’re in favour of.

    It’s a shame that from your position of smugness, you assign things to the treaty it doesn’t deal with directly. Should the treaty be assigning personal and business tax rates, areas for industrial parks, residential areas, and trade policy for the next century?

    Please find an argument that’s relevant.

  • I have a habit of looking for facts, so I was curious if you thought Europe should become more similar to the US, whose growth rate is behind Europe’s, or more like China, which is far ahead?

    Of course, many factors effect growth rates, but I thought I’d join in stripping out any relevant influences and ask a highly biased question myself.

  • Well, I consider the IMF fairly authoritative on this issue

    http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/survey/so/2007/RES1017B-1.gif

    So the sales pitch is inventing stuff not in the treaty? Sure, it’ll give it a good spin, but it’s not making stuff up, or indeed lying about the contents of the treaty. You’re suggesting it is.

    So the treaty either leaves economic policy to be decided, in which case it’s not doing enough to improve growth, or it’s doing too much. Brilliant, something to complain about either way.

  • I was particularly amused by David Cameron’s attempt to write the headlines with regard to the result of the referendum – he said it was a clear result.

    Yeah, right.

    I was a clear result in that it was a clear ‘No, but Yes, but No’ vote. And I’m sure if there had been a DK option then this would have gained 75% of the votes.

    It is also particularly amusing that the Conservatives are complaining about Brussels elitism and the democratic deficit in the same week as they are engaged in the exact same practises at Westminster level – should we ask how many conservative backbenchers are happy to be bounced into opposing 42 days without charge and how many are happy to see the option put to the people even in a single constituency?

    Conservatives – can we have some consistency please?

  • Rich wrote: “The Lisbon treaty certainly doesn’t reform everything that needs reforming, but are you seriously suggesting that the only time we can reform anything is when we reform everything”

    That wasn’t my point. My point was that those things that were reformed by the Lisbon Treaty weren’t among those, witch needed to be reformed. Read what I write, and don’t put words to my mouth.

  • It certainly reads that way to me. I still fail to see why the Lisbon treaty is bad if it doesn’t cover the reforms you want. The treaty certainly does cover things that need reform. You don’t have an argument, you have some angry words without substance.

  • Well, if you didn’t even understand what I said, I very much doubt you understand the Lisbon Treaty.

  • passing tory 15th Jun '08 - 8:18pm

    Rich, as I have pointed out already, there are areas covered that don’t need reform. But in fact I think that you arguments completely miss the point.

    Maybe think of it another way. If as an EU citizen you are favourably inclined towards the EU as a concept but think that the institutions need improving in fundamental ways, then what routes are available for you to make your feelings felt? None at all.

    And this is where Orangepan is profoundly wrong. In the UK, it is really quite easy to get rid of a government and to get a political party to reconsider its position, and for the balance of power within a party to be shaped by external events. There is no similar mechanism to effect a change of direction at the European level. Thus, on the odd occasion where they are given the chance, people give the EU as hard a kicking as possible in the hope that they’ll get the message, but clearly it hasn’t got through yet.

  • Passing Tory – I don’t mind it if you are able to point out if my arguments are flawed, at odds with events or plainly wrong, but you completely failed to address anything I said. My guess is that you were simply countering my attack on your side for purely partisan reasons.

    Your premises are simply bogus, and your conclusions are based on bad comparisons which are fundamentally contradictory.

    It is not easy to get rid of a government in the UK, however much resentment and division it creates, nor is it easy to influence party direction (even if you are on your party’s frontbench – just ask David Davis).

    There is no mechanism to force a change of direction at European level because Europe has no direction. There is no European government except the national governments which comprise the membership – so if you want to change European emphasis you do it through national elections.

    In other words, PT, conservatives are not being open about how they would use their influence or they don’t understand the method for doing so – neither of which makes a case to vote conservative, but both of which makes our case to vote for us.

    In the situation where the official opposition is complicit with national political establishments in avoiding transparency and accountability for fear their parties may not truly represent the democratic aspiration it is hardly a surprise that ‘no decision’ is the outcome of any referenda.

    I’m happy to continue any discussion with you because you seem entirely reasonable, so I have some hope that you will eventually see the logic of your complaints as the same as the grounds for LibDem policies.

  • passing tory 16th Jun '08 - 7:13am

    Orangepan, you are thinking as a political insider. I am talking from the point of view of the wider electorate.

    There is most certainly a dialog between the people and politicians in the UK. In its crudest form it is called focus-group politics where the policies are directly drawn from what is popular with the electorate. But there are many other examples, and combined they mean that the electorate can and do affect both government policies and those of the opposition parties. There is simply no equivalent mechanism at the EU level.

    You are completely kidding yourself if you think that the EU has no direction. Of course you are strictly speaking correct when you say there is no European government, but you are also being highly disingenous. There is a de facto government which was to be institutionalised under the (rejected) constitution. However, the Lisbon treaty and the Constitution are functionally equivalent; so we have a government, it is just called something slightly different (officially it remains just a large NGO which implements a series of treaties …).

    So we have an effective layer of government which hides under the guise of not being one, and which has minimal dialog with the demos. You yourself say that the only way of changing policy at the EU level is to vote in a different national government, but I am afraid this simply isn’t good enough. Once you get 27 Heads of Government in a room then all sorts of horse trading can take place if you have a system that has no culture of, and no need to, take account of public opinion.

    You were the one who started making party political points (for, I presume, partisan reasons). I merely pointed out that your analysis of the democratic deficits in EU and the UK is profoundly wrong, and I stand by that statement.

  • Passing Tory, you remind me very much of Roy Hattersley for your habit of making entirely reasonable points with entirely reasonable examples before going on to avoid the logic of the argument by making a completely perverse conclusion.

    To state that the EU has no mandated government and is therefore impossible to influence; to state that the EU suffers from a lack of accountability because the systems of governance aren’t properly formalised is to call for either dissolution of the whole structure or the introduction of proper and properly agreed regulation of relations – which is exactly what the Lisbon treaty tries to do (not well enough, but still).

    The EU certainly does have an effective layer of governmental oversight, which is entirely right and proper for the areas of common and mutual interest. What it doesn’t do is ‘hide under the guise of not being one’ – it is prevented from fulfilling the proper function it is designed for by the short-sighted and selfish political agendas of that political wing within constituent members.

    Complaining about the size of government (whether at the UK or EU level) is no argument against it, but altogether arguing against government at that level is to argue for war in the hope of conquest: simply put, we live in an interdependent world and our relations must be regulated in an open manner to prevent any unsettling imbalance or distortion of our peaceful normalcy.

    There are however two highly valid arguments against the Libon Treaty – which are 1)it doesn’t do what it sets out to do, and 2)it doesn’t do what we want it to do. That the treaty has been written in such a way as to make it unreadable means it is impossible be exactly sure what our politicians have been up to, but then we all know the established duopoly are a bunch of lying liars, don’t we?

    So why don’t you come clean about whether you are for a peaceful and prosperous integrated Europe or not.

    Dane Clouston, I am also highly sceptical about the methods indulged in by the EU and I think there already is space in our party for people who wish to offer constructive criticism and try to help clean it up.

  • Neil, we could draw a comparison to the process by which we developed our national state.

    Magna Carta was the fourth general restatement of principles by which the monarch agreed to be bound and followed a good century and a half of conquest. The Bill of Rights was an equally significant legal statute which mostly ended the religious wars.

    So by comparison another 10 years wasting anything under 50% of our combined wealth on the process would amount to a significant improvement, but then liberals are always drwoned out when someone storms in shouting “who’s up for a fight”.

  • Neil, this isn’t a question of whether such waste represents a bargain, but how to avoid the waste in the first place.

    I’m not enthusiastic for a super-state, but I am enthusiastic about avoiding a new round of conflict which sees life and property destroyed in the same manner as was the case in each phase of history.

  • Sorry Neil, but the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s are not equivalent with any globalised total war by any stretch of the imagination, nor do any of the participants claim anything of the sort.

    If you mean by saying the EU is to blame that we are each guilty as individuals of failing to engage fully enough in the political processes which could prevent the tragedy of such conflicts, then of course you are right. If, however, you wish to blame an institution for human behaviour then you are sadly mistaken.

    It’s funny how one side criticises EU forces for failing to intervene by sitting idly on the sidelines and another accuses it of exacerbating if not causing the situation with its intervention, while both conclude this provides evidence that the events could be tolerated – rididulous!

  • Nice one Neil, I’m sure that clearly reasoned case will convince one or two people if you repeat it often enough, and back it up with menaces.

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