Saturday, June 07, 2008

Because he could die...

In the West Wing during season 3 , the idea was tossed around that they could replace the VP John Hoynes because he won't be able to bring in his home state of Texas. The discussion is ended by Bartlet deciding that Hoynes will be their guy "because I could die".

In the real world, with all the other considerations such as ideological balance, bringing in another state, forcing your opponent to campaign somewhere they had taken for granted, for selecting a VP, the oldest and indeed the original reason for the position is that the President might die or be killed in office and then the vice president has to assume the office and the quite rightly awesome responsibility that goes with it. We live in a pretty strange world and all too sadly a world that has some pretty strange and violent people in it. For that reason, both John McCain who could just as easily succumb to disease and Barack Obama because some nut job might decide he must die, the vice presidency selection of both parties may be more important to the election process than at any time since a former shoe salesman from Missouri joined the Democratic ticket in 1944.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Voting on Lisbon - update 2a

I would now rate the Pro-Lisbon side at 53% with the No side at 45% and if it stays like that I believe that the No side will win on the day of voting. Why?

Turnout: it is going to be too low. The fact is that the 'undecided' voters or perhaps we really should call them 'the indifferent' aren't going to vote Yes. The percentage and amount of people I've come across in the last 2 weeks that say they are going to vote No because they don't understand it, because they don't like aspect X, or specific item Y is really surprising. Surprising because these are not No to everything people. Combine this with the reality that it will be a considerable challenge for turnout to break 40% and you've got a committed No vote, a lackadaisical Yes, and a vast pool of indifference for one to swim in and the other to drown in.

The other difficulty hampering the Treaty is that this (the last 4 months or so) is the first most people have heard about the detail involved in the Treaty. Going on and on about the detail of your new wonder product to people who are not in the mood to buy is self defeating. They were none to keen to start with, boring them with information is just browning a lot of them off more.

This lack of prior warning is in part a consequences of the manner in which the Treaty was arrived at. In no significant public forum was the treaty discussed in any detail in advance. There was a European convention on the constitution, but this is not the constitution or so we're told. It would be one thing if the electorate had been engaged before negotiations at EU level took place so that government went in knowing what our bottom lines as a nation were. But they didn't, they simply took the constitution as the template, did some tweaking and reheating and served it back to us. Not once did the government of the day consult the Irish people en masse in advance of the deal being done.

At least some part of the reasoning on the part of a government may be if we as people decide on a set of proposals we like in advance and then we didn't get them in the negotiations that the resultant agreement will prove a much harder sell to the people. That might well be the case, yet the current situation isn't proving to be an easy sell either. People view the Treaty as a weird legalese mutant cooked up out of sight in the elsewhere, and they're not inclined to taste it much less take a bite.

Take two issues the loss of an automatic right to propose a commissioner and the move to more QMV, most people would accept the logic that 30 plus full commissioners is way too many and some means to reduce the number of active commissioners was necessary. Yet why choose a system that excludes 1 in 3 members states for a full term. What other proposals were considered? What specific proposals or arguments were put forward by the Irish government? We simply don't know. The shift to more QMV was always going to impact more on smaller nations, yet no one appears to have prepared straightforward answers that addressed those specific concerns. I do find the No side argument that we need more democracy but they're opposed to the double majorities required in QMV because they bigger countries get more say in the population side (while they ignore the fact that you still need 55% of the countries). I thought democracy meant the more people you had supporting your views the more your views got to prevail. I guess support for democracy goes out the window when there are more of them than of you. The idea of QMV is simple, the big countries can't gang up on the small ones, and the small ones can't gang up on the big ones.

Plus, you just know the government isn't popular when SIPTU and the IFA choose to play hard ball in the final days of the campaign. A popular, well respected government, a government that was feared even would have no problem side-lining the unions and social partners to appeal over their heads directly to the people. Yet 'the people' aren't interested. I think more people would be inclined to vote in the Eurovision at this point than in the referendum. Just as well we didn't qualify for Euro '08 or one bad result for the soccer team and we'd be leaving the EU in a huff.

My Lovely Horse and Bertie

From the people who brought you Bert and Tim's Bogus Finances, a new musical spectacular is to grace our screens as Bertie and a lucky, very lucky member of the equine family star in 'My Effing Lovely Horse'. A story of a simple man, a few spare quid and a fantastical horse that can travel through time and perform miracles of financial wizardry.

Hitting a cinema screen near you soon. A Cock and Bull Story production.