Friday, 16 January 2009

The EU is benefiting from the financial crisis

Why should the Irish vote for the precisely same treaty that they rejected seven months ago? Everyone now admits that the text is identical. So what’s changed?

The answer, of course, is the financial crisis, and the consequent collapse in trust for politicians. “That’s it. I’m voting for Lisbon next time,” says Kevin Myers in the Irish Independent. “Not because I like the EU. I don’t. I despise its corruption, its moral laziness, its military torpor, its great glutinous bureaucracy and its fundamental disrespect for democracy. Its many failings will, in due course, spell the end of European civilisation. But at least if we vote for Lisbon, we shall be further drawn into the great maw of the EU, and for all its loathsome vices, this means we will be spared another layer of self-government. In time, we might become a directly administered province of Brussels, with a governor general in the Phoenix Park. It’ll be horrible, of course, but it won’t be as horrible as what we’ve got.”

I’ve argued before that support for the EU is often a product of pessimism, of despair at the perceived failure of national institutions. Britain joined during the darkest days of the long Heath/Wilson winter, beset by double-digit inflation, strikes, power cuts and shortages. It is hard to imagine our having gone in ten years before or ten years later.

Iceland is similarly going through a long night of the soul, which is why the EU is keen to rush through its accession before its people pull themselves together. Italy, which has always held its politicians in contempt, has been commensurately pro-EU. Ditto Belgium.

Alright, Kevin Myers is making a rhetorical point, but others might be thinking along similar lines, even if subliminally. Still, I hope you think before you vote, Kevin. The people you’re railing against, the people who got your country into its predicament, are also those who are keenest to disregard the voters’ decision. What you call “the myth of 1916″ was explicitly cited by a Euro-fanatical Fianna Fáil MEP as a justification for overturning the referendum result. If you’re cross with them, voting for their treaty is a funny way of showing it.

By Daniel Hannan

This article first appeared in the Telegraph