Archive for September 19th, 2009


Thank heavens for Joe Higgins

As arguments for a No vote go, this is surely the feeblest. There are placards dotted around Cork stating the EU will impose carbon taxes us. “On your business. On your farms. On your families,” is the claim. The thing is, we have to pay taxes anyway, on our businesses, farms and even (if indirectly) our families. And if the Greens are to have any effectiveness in government, we’re all going to be paying carbon taxes soon, regardless of anything that happens in the EU. To many, if not most, paying carbon tax is a good thing.

It is this level of argumentation that I think is giving the Yes camp the edge in the polls. People are sick of the irrelevance and downright deceitfulness of the No side’s arguments. I am aware this is happening on both sides of the fence, but it seems to me the Nos have been dominant in this regard. It is for this reason that I’m genuinely delighted by the presence of Joe Higgins. It is only because of Joe that we’re having a proper debate at all. I’ve remarked before how Joe Higgins has usurped Declan Ganley as the No side’s mascot in this referendum, and this has proven to be a good thing. Unlike Ganley, there’s no ambiguity about why he wants us to vote no. There’s no questioning his motives. He’s a socialist in comment and deed, and regardless of how you rate his opinions there’s no denying he’s stands up for what he believes in. Bertie once described Higgins as a failed politician (actually, what he said was failed person, but let us suppose that was said in the heat of the moment and what he meant was failed politician). Well, at least Joe’s failures didn’t take the rest of us down with him.

As boring is this campaign has been, at least we’re having a debate. Last year we were preoccupied with microchipped babies, enforced abortions and super-army conscriptions. Many on the No side have made much of the fact that we’re voting again on the same treaty, cheerily ignoring that the second referendum is largely their fault. If we had rejected the treaty on its own merits last year, rather than get distracted by Cóir’s bullshit and Ganley’s questionable vested interests, then the EU wouldn’t have been able to pass it off with legal guarantees. This time it’s the affect Lisbon will have on workers that’s the focus of debate, and for that we have Joe Higgins to thank.

I’ve spoken here previously about Higgins in a manner that was perhaps more sarcastic and mocking that was warranted, but I for one am glad he’s campaigning. I’m not convinced by his argument. I’m still voting yes, but I’m grateful there’s someone of Joe’s integrity asking me to consider voting no. I’ve been reading Nick McGinley’s 100 Reason to Vote Yes to Lisbon II, an reasonable yet hardly definitive call for a yes vote. Reason 97 is “Joe Higgins will have to engage constructively with the EU institutions”. I’m sure he finds it repulsive that he has been personally tagged as a reason to vote yes, but I’m sure we can agree that we’re better off having an MEP like Joe working on the inside for us.