News & Current Affairs
17 September 2014
by David Flint
David Cameron should have looked to the Australian example before he allowed the so called Scottish 'referendum'.
Homeowners in an independent Scotland could face significantly increased mortgage payments and at the same time suffer a fall in real estate values, according to press reports.
The fact is that nobody has any idea of what the currency of an independent Scotland would be.
This demonstrates the extraordinary complacency of the British government, and especially of the British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Cameron should have sought wider advice on the way to run this referendum.
He should have been made aware of the adoption by our founders of the Swiss referendum.
Had Cameron insisted on a similar procedure to ours, he would have protected the Union from an uninformed vote based on emotion and not the facts.
Instead of a real referendum, Cameron has allowed the Scottish National Party to foist a question-only plebiscite on the Scottish people. How extraordinary that he should allow the use of one of the tools devised by French revolutionary terrorists and perfected by the Bonapartes.
A Yes vote will constitute a blank cheque in favour of the politicians on a range of crucial issues.
This will include how the U.K.'s substantial national debt will be shared, how the defence forces will be divided, where the important nuclear submarines will be stationed, whether Scotland will be allowed to use the pound, and whether there would be a shared reserve bank.
And what will happen within a range of international organizations, relationships and treaties? These have include the UN Security Council, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), the Commonwealth, the G20, the IMF, the World Bank, the crucial "Five Eyes'' intelligence alliance (to which Australian is a party) and indeed the special relationship between the USA and the UK.
The people of Scotland will decide none of these important matters.
Salmond wanted this state of ignorance because he knows that if the Scots were made aware of the consequences of independence, those tempted to vote Yes because of the swirl of the bagpipes could sensibly change their minds.
Salmond, like so many provincial leaders, wants to tread the world stage as a Prime Minister.
Before he is unleashed, the UK PM should ensured that the electorate is properly informed as to the consequences.
Cameron has failed the people of Scotland in not protecting them from making an emotional vote.
But he has also failed the English, Welsh and Northern Irish.
The Union could be broken up without the people of these three countries having even been allowed to express an opinion.
Decisions on significant questions ranging from the currency to defence and even the status of the United Kingdom as a great power will be decided without their input.
The English Welsh and Northern Irish are equally entitled to have their say. The British government has failed miserably in its duty to provide an opportunity for them to cast an informed vote too.
Once again, if the British government had gone to the trouble of looking at the very successful Australian solution, they would have found a valuable precedent.
This was in Western Australia in 1933, where separatism had long been strong.
In the middle of the depression, the people of Western Australia were asked: "Are you in favour of the State of Western Australia withdrawing from the Federal Commonwealth established under the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act ( Imperial) ?"
As with the Scottish question, this was actually a blank cheque plebiscite. West Australians had no idea how, for example, the national debt would be divided and what the currency of the new defendant would be would be.
On what was then an emotional issue, a massive 66.45% voted Yes.
(The Western Australians were also asked whether a convention should be called to propose alterations to the Constitution. Unfortunately this was rejected by 57%. It could have been used to reverse the High Court's centralist trend in interpreting the constitution.)
The WA government threw the British into confusion by sending the petition to Westminster. A parliamentary committee finally realized with considerable relief that as we could change our constitution – we were the only Dominion able to do this – this was an Australian and not a British matter.
With a change in government, economic improvement and the likelihood of war, the momentum was by then lost. Nothing further was done, although the issue bubbles along, no doubt encouraged by the present inequitable distribution of GST.
The point is that by learning from Australia, David Cameron could have ensured that the decision on 15 September was made by all the British people and not on emotion but on the clearly established consequences of change.