A reader/trainee/friend, who happens to be Irish, emailed me to complain that I was banging on too much about Brexit. It was amusing not just because most of my blog correspondents tell me the opposite, but because of all my reader/trainee/friends the most ardently pro-Brexit is likewise Irish.
The principal reason that I’ve recently explored so many speeches about Brexit is that there are so many currently around; and I surely don’t have to explain why that is.
Nevertheless that email did prompt me to pull out a speech from my ‘to-do’ pile. It is pro-EU, and delivered by a distinguished Irishman.
Speaking in February 2018, here is Daithi O’Ceallaigh.
Instantly I warm to him. That lectern is a handy piece of furniture to lean on, as distinct from a repository for a script. And he leans on it in a manner that suggests that he just wants to feel closer to his audience – excellent body language! From the outset it is clear that he is speaking with us, not to or at. Also as time goes on it is confirmed that he is shooting from the hip, and any paper on that lectern will hold no more than bullet points.
A proper speaker.
When David Cameron first announced the EU Referendum I welcomed it on this blog, saying that I looked forward to hearing the arguments in the campaign. I was pro-Brexit, but welcomed well-reasoned attempts to sway me. In the event I was disappointed by Project Fear and puerile name-calling. That trend has continued ever since, and the current move towards political betrayal is a scandal that besmirches both Westminster and Whitehall. I would add the BBC to that, except they were already an embarassment.
This speech by O’Ceallaigh is the sort of thing I wanted to hear. He is evidently intelligent, sincere, and has proper arguments.
Has he swayed me? No, but if I were Irish, he would have come closer. Being patriotic doesn’t mean you hate other countries, or you’re doing it wrong; but where there’s a conflict of interest we all have to look after our own first. In the event of the oxygen mask being deployed, put on your own before your child’s. Nevertheless it’s more than self-interest.
Every one of his arguments is predicated by the assumption that if it’s not ordered by Brussels it won’t be done (or done properly). It is a variety of bureaucritis, a condition suffered by nearly all bureaucrats, essentially tunnel-vision. It is understandable that when all your working life is based around bureaucracies they assume in your mind an aura of indispensability; but history repeatedly shows that to be false. Bureaucracies are dispensable. They are a luxury, welcome but expensive. They make excellent servants but dreadful masters.
If you dispute my term “tunnel vision” I refer you to his dismissal of the Irexit movement in the Irish Republic which he describes as a minority sport. At 1:30 –
There’s absolutely no doubt about the commitment of the Irish government, and the complete Irish political class, to staying within Europe.
I believe him. It has become evident that the same is true of Britain. But the political class is not the country. The people are the country, and in Britain the people have over-ruled the political class.
I like this man, not just as a speaker – as a person; but I believe his misgivings, considered and sincere as they are, to be misguided.