Friday, June 26, 2009

Another Libertas founder, David Cochrane, say Yes to Lisbon

In today's Irish Times David Cochrane, states he will also Vote Yes to Lisbon in the next referendum. 26 June 2009

Madam, – I expect to hear a lot in the coming months about the consequences of Ireland not ratifying the Lisbon Treaty.

It’s easy for the Yes side to talk about the negative consequences of a No vote, and they always seem shocked when they get accused of bullying and threatening behaviour. This is an unfortunate truth, and one which did play a part in the first Lisbon campaign. Even this week, reports covered comments by German Socialist MEP Jo Leinen about the consequences of a No vote and Ireland being moved to a second-class status in the EU. This simply isn’t possible, and it is important that the Yes side seeks to reassure voters of what is possible and what isn’t possible. This is not to say that it should be seen as giving oxygen to the No campaign, far from it – a successful treaty result will be tied to a need for renewed trust in what our politicians tell us.

Comments about the consequences of a No vote need to be seen as unhelpful. It’s all too easy to play to those comments and give them coverage and airtime. These kind of comments also run the chance of giving credence to the possibility that the people may in fact vote No. This is a big mistake. The Yes side need to work from an assumption that the people will vote Yes. This doesn’t mean resting on laurels, but it does mean giving little or no credibility to the chances of losing the second time around.

A successful Yes campaign must be on the merits of what is good about the Lisbon Treaty and what’s good about Europe. Any successful campaign must be based on talking about how Lisbon will fix Europe and, by focusing on areas that are in effect broken, to make it work better.

Classing Yes voters as pro-European and No voters as anti-European didn’t work last time. I doubt whether it will work this time. The Yes campaign can own the argument (unlike last time) by focusing on what’s good; focusing on voting No means being against the positive reform as brought about by the Lisbon Treaty.

Those who voted Yes last time are likely to do so again, thus the focus must be on how to turn the Nos into Yeses. This can be done by focusing on the primary arguments of the No campaign which Ireland has secured guarantees on, and making them arguments in favour of a Yes vote. This may be difficult for those who campaigned for a Yes vote last time to stomach, but they did not win the argument last time — it’s imperative that they do so this time.

But we’re already seeing the same faces with the same language and rhetoric, with the same arguments. This isn’t going to help the Yes campaign. Lisbon 2 must be a fresh campaign, with fresh faces, fresh energy and fresh passion for convincing the No voters to cross the floor – that means telling them their vote did something positive as brought about by Lisbon 2 and urging them to agree by voting Yes.

In particular, I believe the right to retain a commissioner is a massive change, and one which should be overwhelmingly applauded. During the first campaign, many on the Yes side said it wouldn’t be possible, but some of those people have secured that for Ireland.

Focus needs to be put on that leadership, and the ability to secure a better deal, which has been done. Not only has a victory been won for Ireland, but concessions have been given to each member-state with regards keeping a commissioner – this is a victory for everyone across Europe.

People who voted No should be proud of securing not just a better deal for Ireland, but for all Europeans. I believe this is an important aspect to a successful second Lisbon campaign for the Yes camp.

I voted No to Lisbon last year to keep Ireland’s commissioner and am proud of that vote. I’ll be proudly voting Yes in October for precisely the same reason. – Yours, etc,



(Former Libertas Lisbon

Campaign Director),

Celbridge, Co Kildare.

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