A friendly Irishman in Brussels has e-mailed me a link to the Spoofer’s Guide to How To Not Vote No to the Treaty of Lisbon. You can download the PDF here, and it’s linked from Ciaran Tolan’s website (a guy who looks a lot more serious than Jason O’Mahony who wrote the spoof guide).

I’m not sure you can easily make a Treaty fun and digestible, but the guide has a good go. I hope a few people have a read of it before they go to the polls next week in the referendum in Ireland.

Here are a few highlights:

“The EU is more of a Batman type superpower. Tortured by our dark history and self-loathing, unlike The Incredible Hulk we had to build all our incredible gadgets from scratch, and we wrack our consciences in endless debate before we ever act. But when we do, it’s quite impressive. The Treaties and the European Court are our batmobile, getting us where we want to go, and our single market is our batarang. As President Bush discovered when he imposed steel sanctions on the EU, the dull thud of an EU trade blockade on the back of the head will slow even the hardiest of miscreants. Sometimes, 490 million people refusing to buy Microsoft’s products is as powerful as an aircraft carrier.”

“Please note that we can’t call the Foreign Minister that title as the British break out in hives at the prospect, hence the really catchy name of High Representative for Foreign Affairs.”

“A new rule that the Commission President must come from the winning party in European Parliament elections […] The Commission President is the guy in charge of the day to day running of the EU, and so, should, you know, maybe get the nod from the punters who actually pay for everything?”


  1. Jeremy Hargreaves

    I like the way this post starts with the words “A *friendly* Irishman…” – presumably in order to distinguish him from the normal Irishmen, who we all know are in fact *the enemy*!

    Of course, since last Friday…

  2. Ralf,

    I don’t give a tinker’s cuss for parliamentary sovereignty, I believe in the sovereignty of the people.

    The canard of ‘representative democracy’ is only ever produced when it is clear that the Parliament is defying the people’s will.

    Unlike many who oppose the EU, I don’t do it from a wish from a wish to return to the past, but rather from the desire to live in a truly democratic, sovereign country.

    The argument in this specific case for a referendum in my country is based on a promise from each of the main three parties to hold a referendum. It was upon this basis that they were elected. The political class has stolen our referendum, (for this reason I hope the Irish vote no). If politicians show contempt for the people, they become, not representatives of democracy, but a barrier to democracy.

    As for my use of the word propaganda, I don’t know what you’re wingeing about – especially as you go far further to blacken your opponents as “wilfully malicious disinformation activists”. At least with the latter, I am not expected to fund it through my taxes.

  3. Trooper Thompson,

    You seem to have your concepts topsy-turvy: The norm for legislation, including approval of international treaty commitments, is through parliaments in the world of democracies.

    This is based on the principle of representative democracy.

    If you are a supporter of some other form of democracy (direct?), please take a principled stand.

    You are right, in that the European Commission makes a fair job of informing European citizens about the activities, decisions and legislation of the European Union. Admittedly, communicating in 23 official languages comes at a cost, but in principle the expense is necessary to give the EU citizens a chance to be informed.

    Looking at the blogosphere, especially in English, I think that more of an information effort would be needed, in particular to counter the most glaring untruths spread by either gravely uninformed or wilfully malicious disinformation activists.

    You seem to equate information with propaganda, which tells more about you than about the communication effort by the Commission.

    The latter is usually correct as to the facts, although the general problem of corporate communications, gloss, is in evidence there, too.

    This is one of the reasons for the need of scientific analysis and independent inquiry, of which there is a fair amount available for those who are ready to digest other things than gall.

    I have sometimes wondered at people who trumpet the cause of ‘parliamentary sovereignty’, only to nullify the national parliaments with regard to EU treaty amendments.

  4. “The EU is more of a Batman type superpower”…

    “The Treaties and the European Court are our batmobile, getting us where we want to go, and our single market is our batarang.”

    Holy cow! Is this the best you can do? The tone is not so much light-hearted, but pitched at the level of a five-year-old.


    your comment regarding passports not only shows a very selfish attitude, namely the good of this country should be secondary to your personal convenience as an ex-pat in Brussels, it also verges on hysterical. Are you suggesting that if the UK left the EU, all British citizens would be expelled from Belgium?


    I love it when the Euro-federalists play the poor relation in terms of media and propaganda. Do you have any idea how much taxpayers money the EU spends to further their political goals? The problem is that the people remain unconvinced, hence the need to push the ratification process through national parliaments in France, the Netherlands and the UK.

  5. The existence of EU citizenship is only a legal form. The EU has been created by a generation of officials not Europe’s peoples. Ever closer Union of Europe’s peoples became ever closer union of the national civil servants. Concrete prospects of a European, as opposed to EU, politics were last in evidence during French and Dutch referendums three years ago. The EU soon knocked all that on the head. You can not bring citizenship into life, with all that means, especially in the progressive sense, by decree

  6. I agree Ralf. But there are few people (apart from you and I and scant few others online) who actively defend such positions.

    Plus we can’t let the UK leave anyway – it would make my life as a UK citizen quite hellish. I would have to get a Belgian passport or something.

  7. I am a bit tired of people denying the existence of EU citizenship (in force since the Maastricht Treaty, from November 1993), or the fledgling European level political parties (see Article 10(4) of the consolidated Lisbon Treaty), or impute that the EU is reintroducing the death penalty etc.

    Why can’t the ones who want their country to secede campaign on real issues with truthful arguments, and let the rest of Europe get on with imrpoving the European Union?

  8. European political parties exist legally, and political groups exist in the EP. Some candidates will run campaigns for the EP elections on jointly-branded tickets – PES & SPD for example. OK, these are not political parties in the traditional sense, but what is the problem with greater accountability of the Commission to the EP, on the basis of the EP election results?

    More on this on my post about Pascal Lamy.

  9. “A new rule that the Commission President must come from the winning party in European Parliament elections”

    Given that we don’t have pan-European political parties how is this even conceptually possible?

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