I asked Mr Matthews whether his aim was to campaign to restore power to national parliaments or to reform the EU, whose structure would not change even if the Lisbon Treaty failed, and if the latter, how was he intending to go about it. His reply did not fill me with confidence.
The first thing, he said, was to take stock and to ensure that there is a vote on Lisbon (preferably, one assumes a No); whether people are prepared to sanction this enormous transfer of power to the European elite. Then we can move on and, in due course, Libertas will publish its policies. I suspect this means that they have not thought beyond the first step.
Back when I cut my eurosceptic teeth, the days of Maastricht and the battle for that referendum, it made a certain amount of sense to say that we should concentrate on this treaty that had qualitatively changed the process of integration.
The European issue was new to most people as the project had been apparently (though not in reality) quiescent for many years; it was necessary to introduce all the many aspects of it into public discourse and to suggest withdrawal appeared to be politically suicidal. Luckily Jacques Delors on the one hand and the people of Denmark on the other helped us to make "Europe" familiar to many.
We have moved a long way from there, though not as long as we would have done had some people concentrated more on what really matters - politics and policies. To return to the same point and argue that we must not frighten the horses and let's discuss the Lisbon Treaty, which is so horrific that it makes one faint with horror, before we, possibly, move on to other issues is pointless at a time when people are seriously discussing the possibilities of British withdrawal or even the complete collapse of the EU.
But then, that is precisely what Mr Ganley is afraid of: that those wicked eurosceptics will have their way and the great European project, which, in his opinion, would be absolutely wonderful if only it acquired popular support, will collapse. That is why we say that Libertas is not fighting on our side - they want to strengthen the EU, we want to destroy it in order to start creating genuinely democratic structures in European countries and alliances between them and outwith Europe.Given that, I am not exactly clear as to why people find it surprising that he now wants to start a group in Ireland that will fight for the United States of Europe. It's what he always wanted. He just thought and, no doubt, thinks that somehow by some magical wand-waving he will be able to create a United States of Europe that is somehow democratic and accountable to .... well to whom?