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Sunday 21 December 2014

Lisbon vote still far too close to call

Thank God for Jim Corr. After weeks of claim and counter-claim, the musical genius behind Dundalk's most famous exports has cut through all the confusion and revealed the truth behind the Lisbon Treaty.

Forget all that stuff about EU commissioners, tax vetoes, and qualified voting majorities. It turns out that's all just a front. The real point of Lisbon, according to Jim, is that it's a stepping stone towards a New World Order led by shadowy figures who want to introduce a "scientific technocracy" and destroy national sovereignty across the planet.

The Charter of Fundamental Rights is actually designed to allow the death penalty in the back door. Oh, and by the way, 9/11 was actually an inside job carried out by rogue elements within George Bush's White House.

After all that, how could anyone except gullible idiots with too much time on their hands even think about voting Yes?

It's very easy to mock, of course (and when Jim's around, it suddenly gets even easier). His dramatic intervention brings to mind that it's a shame all the people who know exactly how the world should be run are too busy being rock stars instead.

Still, at least he's brought a bit of light relief to what's so far been an exceptionally bitter and bad-tempered campaign. In fact, there's a strong case to be made that his comments are slightly more credible than some of the stuff that's been flying around over the last few days.

Declan Ganley, the leader of Libertas and one of the most prominent faces of the No campaign, says that Lisbon could lead to the detention of children as young as three for "educational purposes". Sinn Fein are still banging on about the danger to our tax rates, even though they admit they have no idea themselves what they think those rates should be. Fringe Catholic groups such as Youth Defence have been claiming that the treaty will legalise abortion and euthanasia, even though the Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has declared that they're talking rubbish.

The Yes campaign, meanwhile, has had a major wake-up call. Over the last 48 hours they've finally copped on to the fact that petty squabbling over which party is working hardest to get its supporters out will only end up doing them all damage.

The question now is whether their belated show of unity, with Brian Cowen and Eamon Gilmore hosting a rather awkward tea party in the Dundrum Shopping Centre, has come too late in the day.

MOMENTUM

With less than two weeks to go, the result remains too close to call. Most campaigners on the ground seem to agree that the Yes side is still slightly ahead. They also agree that the No side is catching up fast and has real momentum behind it. The more confused the electorate gets by all the misinformation and melodramatic posters with monkeys, the more likely they are to decide that they don't want to take a chance.

That's why Brian Cowen has to try and win this one the old-fashioned way -- by ordering the formidable FF election machine to knock on doors, shake hands and physically get as many of their natural supporters to the polls as possible.

Above all, he needs to tell the middle-of-the-road, floating voter -- the so-called Breakfast Roll Man-- exactly what Lisbon will do for him. Preferably in language he can easily digest.

The 2007 General Election was won and lost in the last 10 days. With so many voters still undecided, the same will be true of the Lisbon Treaty.

The question that both sides now face has, naturally enough, already been best put by Jim Corr -- "What can I do to make you love me?"

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