Saturday, 3 October 2009

No means Yes, and Yes means Yes

Counting is underway in the Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty for a new EU Constitution (I know they claim it's just a tidying-up exercise - like Hercules and the Augean Stables was just a spring-clean).

Of course, 18 months ago, the people of Ireland said No to the treaty, by 53.4% to 46.6%. But that wasn't what the government, opposition, business or the rest of the EU wanted to hear, so they just asked the question again.

Can we assume that if the answer is yes this time, there'll be another one in 18 months to check people haven't changed their minds? I think not.

It's rather like the Church of England's General Synod. If you want to see women ordained, just keep asking the question. Eventually people will say yes, but then funnily enough, the question doesn't get asked again.

It looks like the Irish will say yes this time. Not because they've really changed their minds, but because when you're suffering economic hardship you don't bite the hand that feeds. but if they don't, will the government just ask again in another year, and keep asking until they get the answer they want.

I must confess, we sometimes try the same tactic with our toddler - just keep asking until he gives the answer we want. Perhaps that says something about Governments' attitudes to their people - they're fickle children, but nanny knows best!