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Hello Lisbon, Goodbye UKIP
As well as forcing Ireland to reassess its attitude towards Europe, the second Lisbon referendum was a reminder of just how nasty British euroskeptics such as UKIP really are
The Hog, 16 Oct 2009
So that’s that. We’ve done our bit for the Lisbon Treaty… at the second time of asking. But few would have forecast the scale of the landslide. It was pretty emphatic, as emphatic as Leinster’s victory over Munster. But what it means is less clear, other than that voters took a look at what’s happening out there in the world and decided it was better to be inside the tent pissing out than to be outside being pissed on.
I’ll return to some of the implications later but before that I want to mark the passing (hopefully) from Irish politics of UK agendas and in particular the UK Independence Party (UKIP).
These bozos had and have no interest in Ireland or its politics, unless of course we want to return to the Commonwealth or indeed the United Kingdom. Their sole interest was in using the AAyerish referendum as a proxy for the one they won’t be having in the UK.
Perhaps the most problematic of their contributions was the claim (based on no doorstep canvassing on their part, mind you) that Irish reservations on the European Union were based on anti-foreigner prejudice.
Now, I am not so stupid as to think that there aren’t people here who are hostile to foreigners. Just listen to your next taxidriver, for Chrissakes. Nor am I saying that we don’t have to address issues arising from largescale and very rapid (and rapidly changing) immigration.
Indeed, I can’t say for sure that it was UKIP that was behind the posters that read Hello Lisbon, Hello Turkey. Cóir have been adept at raising these fears too, and they’re not alone. I met a longstanding Labour Party canvasser who explained that Eric Byrne lost his seat in the Rialto/Crumlin area some years ago when Sinn Féin canvassers told voters that he was responsible for the influx of Roma in the area.
No, as in the UK, the problem is UKIP’s legitimisation of racism as an acceptable field of political debate as opposed to something that should be roundly challenged at all times. That’s where we’ve been till now and one fears that they have released a genie from the bottle, for their own ends in their own country, that we may have more problems with later.