Richard North, 05/01/2005  

Spain will be the first country to hold a referendum on the European Constitution on February 20. The vote is expected to be a resounding yes. Nobody can accuse the Spaniards of having any doubts about a system that provides the country with enormous funds and about which they, actually, know very little.

The government is a little worried about their ignorance. It seems 90 per cent have said that they know nothing about the Constitution. Why that worries the government is a mystery. Surely, the less people know about it, the more likely they are to vote yes.

In an effort to combat this deplorable (or admirable) ignorance the Spanish government has launched a concerted campaign to “sell” the Constitution. This exercise will be done mainly on TV by various celebrities, pop singers, sportsmen and other assorted luvvies. This will add a completely new dimension to the concept of ignorance being bliss.

Then there is football. There usually is. Apparently, every fan attending the Real Madrid match this week-end will be given a copy of the Constitution. What fascinating ideas that raises. Why Real Madrid only? Do other fans not vote or are they beyond the pale? Then again, will those who support the team’s opponents be given a copy of this wondrous document?

Will the footballers be expected to read it and chant various articles during their warm-up session and as they run onto the pitch? Is it, in fact, wise to hand a large group of football fans, a notoriously volatile group of people, such a heavy tome? What if they decide that the referee is as blind as a bat and should, therefore, be put out of his misery with a well-aimed 300 odd pages of the European Constitution?

Let us hope our own government will not think of anything quite so silly. Then again, maybe they should. After all, I cannot imagine a better way of alienating large sections of the population than insisting that they carry a heavy tome like the European Constitution to a football match, unless it is the prospect of listening to mindless participants of I am a celebrity… wittering away about the joys of further European integration.

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