Ireland is now in the second last week of its liberal establishment’s tiresome campaign to get the country to radically change its understanding of marriage as an institution naturally fitted to the conjugal relationship between a man and a woman. All the opinion polls are still pointing to a triumph for them. But there are warnings of hubris. This morning’ mass-circulation Sunday Independent carries that warning in a no-holds-barred column by one of the country’s more open-minded journalists and TV hosts, Brendan O’Connor.
The Yes campaign, he muses, must be very nervous looking at what just happened in the UK. Everybody knew what the result in the UK election was going to be. Every poll was in agreement. Neck and neck. Hung parliament. Weeks of manoeuvring to try and create a Government. Everybody agreed. And, as usual, when everyone agrees so wholeheartedly on something, they were all wrong. The media was wrong, the polls were wrong; the whole establishment got it wrong.
The Yes side must be wondering this weekend if the same could be true here. What if the polls are wrong? What if the media is wrong? What if the whole political establishment has got this one wrong? On Friday morning, Antony Worrall Thomson, of all people, pointed out that a lot of Tory voters are his age and they tend not to admit their intentions in advance, saving the truth instead for the privacy of the ballot box. And lets face it, being a No voter in this country is even more shameful that being a Tory in the UK. So the likelihood is a lot more people are lying about their voting intentions in the upcoming referendum. And who could blame them?
O’Connor goes on to catalogue what might at first have looked like winning strokes by the Yes campaign – Twitter et al calling for a Yes vote, massive media support, 100% party political approval – but which reflection might suggest could turn out to be a poisonous concoction. He also mentions the abusive treatment of the opposite side but does not talk about public revulsion at the denial of freedom of expression which their tearing down of No posters is provoking
A friend of mine visited his barber yesterday. The barber told him that he had a few young people in with him earlier, potentially Yes voters, who spoke of their disgust at such hostile, negative and undemocratic tactics.
The thing about Irish people, O’Connor says, is that they don’t like being told what to think. They don’t like being told what to think by the media. They don’t like being told what to think by politicians. And they certainly don’t like being told what to think by the bosses of tech companies. It’s the kind of thing that is bound to get people’s backs up.
The No campaigners can only hope that the Yes campaigners do not read O’Connor’s warning and change their tactics to a more democratic one. Keep the own goals coming and they will be more than happy.
Michael Kirke is a freelance writer based in Dublin. He blogs at Garvan Hill. This article has been republished from Garvan Hill.