It's not a bad treaty, it's also not a very good treaty. I don't hate it, I don't much love it either. Yet I've got to have an opinion on it and I've got to vote. So what to do, well I suppose I should go over some of the basic arguments in my head.
It's long and complex: Yeah so what? Do you think a legal document should be written in baby speak? Or on the back of a cereal box?
You don't know anything about it: Then read it, Ok I read it. Perhaps I skimmed most of it. But I got the gist of it. (we're the good guys right?)
You don't understand it, then find someone you trust and listen to what they have to say on it and then think some more about it yourself.
So, where does that leave me? Blurry eyed and owing people pints.
There are specific things I don't like about it. The absence of a commissioner for 5 out of 15 years is one. I think my own proposals on a rotating commission with seniors and juniors would be more workable that the idea of reducing to 2/3 (after all we could be back up to mid twenties commissioners inside of 10/20 years). That said, there may be other better ideas, the problem is that we didn't hear about them in advance and make a judgement on what we liked or disliked.
I think the lack of engagement by the government of the day with the public prior to setting off to negotiate the treaty was a mistake, bringing this sheaf of paper home like it was Jack's Magic Beans is so 19th century.
Gov: "Look we signed a new treaty isn't it great!"
Voters: "I thought you were going out to get milk and sell the cow?"
We're getting a President of the EU sure but it is not a US style president who gets to declare war and do things on his own. Rather it is one who is there to provide continuity between the Presidencies of the circus that moves around from country to country every 6 months and who does what he is told by the heads of the member states. Less of a President and more of a butler with travel privileges.
And as for the foreign minister, we've had Javier Solano wandering the world the last few years and he's not exactly embarrassed us by setting off fire alarms in buildings or nuking Pakistan.
I think there is a basic contradiction in the no argument about democracy when they talk about QMV and how awful it is that larger countries with more voters get a bigger say than we do. Democracy is all about giving those with more votes, more influence.
And then it comes down to this. Last night's Q&A was useful in demonstrating that there is no Plan B for us, rejecting the treaty because we might get something better is not a sensible option. We could actually get something worse and the li(n)e from Mary Lou MacDonald that she believes the government capable of getting a better deal next time when she doesn't believe they were competent to get an even passably good deal in the first place. Doubling up might be the way she rolls but there is a time to cash in your chips and sometimes that is when you're way up, and sometimes it is just when you're marginally ahead. Also, with their excessive tales of woe the No side lost me last night because if they're seeing all these things that obviously aren't there then maybe the more plausible things aren't there either or simply aren't as solvable as they claim. That said, many serious and genuine issues have been highlighted during this campaign and I hope to God that we learn or relearn in some cases the lessons of Nice I which were that public engagement during the process is as important as the last 3/4 weeks of the campaign.
A key point for me was the impression from the No side that we would be just renegotiating with the EU as an entity, when in fact with Lisbon dead, it would be all 27 member states negotiating with each other and God knows where that will lead us. I don't much like this treaty but I can live with it. The idea that we should say No just so as to spin the wheel again in the hope that we might get something better is fine for members of gamblers anonymous but is irresponsible in grown political leaders.
See the point is this, there are aspect of the Treaty I don't like and there are aspects you probably don't like but the areas I would change you might leave the same and the things you would change I would be loath to touch. So we end up with some middle ground document that we all can live with and that is what this treaty is. It's not exactly what we wanted but when do you get that when you're an adult?
So I'm not crazy about this treaty but rejecting it because it ain't perfect doesn't make much sense. Do I think we could have done better? Yes! Do I think that by voting No we will on the balance of probability get a better deal afterwards? No! For that reason, I'm voting Yes.