The most amusing thing about the nascent referendum campaign in Ireland is the approach of the two sides. It’s not as oppositional at least in spirit as you might think.
The Pro Lisbon lobby are smug. They got a second referendum, meaning they have lots of fun canvassing and self-righteous posing to do before the campaign is done. Lisbon, you see, is the chance Ireland has to be grateful to Europe for all that Ireland has gained from the Union. and for the woolly headed Pro Lisbon people, showing gratitude is as important an obligation on a people as being taxed highly and… Well, it’s considered very important anyway.
On the opposition side (whilst remembering that all mainstream parties in Ireland are pro-Lisbon), there is a mix of emotions. Some are disgusted that, having rejected the treaty once, the government is asking the question again. The people rejected it once, they say. It’s anti-democratic to force them to vote again so soon.
But far more anti-Lisbon people are secretly delighted to have the opportunity to run out more basic lies, racism, xenophobia and visceral hatred of the pro-choice. Cóir, the main oppositional force this time since the crushing of Libertas in the European elections, is a spin-off of Youth Defence, a deeply unpleasant far-right catholic anti-abortion group with ugly campaigning tendencies.