G’day potential mates! The Tory campaign to defend the Union is definitely busting out the big guns now. Last week we were treated to a list of over 100 celebrities who’ve signed a letter in support of Westminster rule. The news that not just Phil but also Kirstie heart the UK is doubtless enough to convince us that having big nukes on the Clyde and watching a bunch of Eton boys we never voted for wreck what’s left of our public services is probably for the best. House prices are rising again after all and nothing shows we’ve learned the lessons from the previous crash like forcing the price of basic commodities to unattainable highs and borrowing against their inflated values, it’s the British way.
While it’s one thing for members of the gentry like Kirsty Allsopp (daughter of Charles Henry Allsopp, the 6th Baron Hilldrup) to rightly claim they benefit immensely for the unequal mess that is the UK, it’s quite another thing for a man who runs a state once governed from London but now a successful independent nation to do so. Step forward Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott.
Speaking in London this week, the right-wing windbag said it would be “hard to see how the world would be helped by an independent Scotland.” He continued,
I think that the people who would like to see the break-up of the United Kingdom are not the friends of justice, the friends of freedom, and the countries that would cheer at the prospect… are not the countries whose company one would like to keep.
So what does our “friend of freedom and justice” get up to when he’s not simultaneously declaring how bad independence from Britain is and running a state which is now independent from Britain? And what sort of company does he keep?
Well he’s obviously keen to keep in with the Brits, who he owes so much to. He recently made a speech begging for foreign investment which contained the line,
I guess our country owes its existence to a form of foreign investment by the British government in the then unsettled or, um, scarcely settled, Great South Land
That Great South Land, so unsettled, except by all the people who lived there. Despite his much vaunted progressive credentials on the rights of First Australians, his initial budget raised the pension age to 70, above life expectancy for aboriginal men and the indigenous affairs budget was slashed by $500m Australian dollars. There was no shortage of money to play with, Australia is in the midst of a mining boom, so $54m was made available to increase “police infrastructure in remote areas.” That’s what’s known as “money to lock them up” in the not so complex lexicon of Australian racism.
Back at Friends4Justice HQ (Climate Division), Tony repeatedly reminds us that he believes that we contribute towards global warming and he’s certainly been doing his bit since becoming PM: he’s axed a carbon tax, slashed funding for Green initiatives, tried to get UNESCO to take part of the country off its World Heritage status list so he could chop it all down, abolished the Climate Change Commission and once described the science behind global warming as “absolute crap.”
Our freedom friend isn’t about to let women or those pesky gays play in his tree house either. Despite vast national wealth and resources, inequality in Australia is spiralling and in 2007, the OECD indicated they had the 14th highest rate of child poverty in the world; they currently estimate around one in ten citizens are unable to feed themselves. So what did Tony Abbott once say was his top priority? Stopping women having abortions, obviously. Here’s a handy video of former PM, Julia Gillard going through a good 15 minutes of Abbott’s “repulsive double standards when it comes to misogyny and sexism.”
Australia took a step back last year when same-sex marriage was effectively nullified by the High Court and our friend Tony wants it to stay that way. He did once say he thought same-sex couples should be allowed “something” but what that is, only he knows. It’s not all bad news though, when asked “homosexuality, how do you feel about that?”, he replied, “I’d probably feel a bit threatened”, so it’s nice to know we can invoke mild terror in this total roaster.
Abbott, who born in London, is just doing his buddy and fellow Oxford graduate David Cameron a favour and there’s a very cosy relationship between the UK Tories and their friends on the right of Australian politics. Cameron’s campaign director Lynton Crosby is an Aussie himself and used to advise Abbott’s Liberal Party on electoral strategy. His most famous form of “strategising” was dealing with the threat posed by the far-right, anti-immigration “One Nation” party to the Liberals. Crosby decided that it would be best if they just stole the rhetoric and a good deal of the policies from One Nation, to win back disaffected voters. This strategy was so successful, the leader of the One Nation Party said subsequently, “the very same policies I advocated back then … are being advocated today by the federal government.”
The Tory’s strategy will be to employ similar tactics to deal with the threat posed by UKIP in the Tory heartlands. If Scotland renders itself completely irrelevant by voting No, the future of British politics will be contested somewhere else, as we spend 2015 watching Cameron & Co deciding just how much more racist they will be, just how far to the right they will drift and just how loudly they shout about ripping up human rights, in the hope of out-flanking Farage in the marginal seats down south, with the man dubbed by Australians as “master of the dark political arts” directing the terrible Tory traffic.
While the ConDems have been systemically ripping up the Health Service and Tony Abbott’s been desperately trying to impose a $7 charge on Australians for GP visits, Scotland has managed to use the limited powers of our Parliament to introduce free personal care and abolish prescription charges. While governments in London and Canberra have been coming up with increasingly punitive and racist measures to keep people out of the country (to the point where Australia’s economy may be coming unstuck due to a Labour shortage), an independent Scotland gives us an opportunity to begin to be a welcoming nation. It’s fair to say that if Scotland, like Australia, manages to gain independence from Westminster rule, we’ll be aiming decidedly higher than Abbott’s vision for Oz.
While we love people prattling on about the friends of justice and freedom, we may take the leader of an independent nation denouncing the idea of independence more seriously if the Aussie PM hadn’t spent his career opposing justice and freedom in all their forms. He is however correct to say that an independent Scotland could be a bit more picky about the company we keep – one suggestion would be to avoid hanging around with climate wrecking, healthcare privatising, bigoted misogynist wankers, like Tony Abbott.
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WEEKLY WANKER #010 : ALISTAIR DARLING
Hope you’ll notice this comment after all this time, but I was reading something you wrote yesterday and through a series of links it led me back here. I am a dual national Scottish Australian, born and brought up in Scotland, I first came to Australia 30 years ago. Last year, however, I was in Scotland for the referendum. Having been back for only a few days at the time, I was shocked to see Abbott popping up in London spouting his crap. I know he was just one of a string of such ill-advised fools, but to me personally it felt kinda creepy. That’s when I wrote this piece: https://thebabelfishblog.wordpress.com/2014/08/19/tony-abbott-is-following-me/ and I share it with you now in honour of the referendum anniversary, and the fact that in the past week, after losing 30 (count ’em), 30 Newspolls in a row, Abbott has now been knifed by his own colleagues and replaced with Malcolm Turnbull (of ‘Spycatcher’ fame if you’re old enough to remember that 80s farce, which gave us the phrase ‘being economical with the truth’). Hope you enjoy the piece anyway. :-)