Abbott’s independence gaffe

Tony Abbott has been criticised for giving his opinion on the Scottish Independence vote, with a spokesman for Scotland’s first minister saying his comments were ludicrous.

In an interview with The Times, Tony Abbott, despite saying “What the Scots do is a matter for the Scots and not for a moment do I presume to tell Scottish voters which way they should vote,” went on to say, “But as a friend of Britain, as an observer from afar, it’s hard to see how the world would be helped by an independent Scotland.

“I think that the people who would like to see the break-up of the United Kingdom are not the friends of justice, not the friends of freedom, and that the countries that would cheer at the prospect of the break-up with the United Kingdom are not the countries whose company one would like to keep.”

In a response to Mr Abbott’s comments, a spokesman for Alex Salmon said, “Tony Abbott has a reputation for gaffes, but his bewildering comments have all the hallmarks of one of the Westminster government’s international briefings against Scotland.” Of the 71 members represented at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Mr Abbott was the only one to have “put his foot in it,” said the spokesman.

Given that Australia is a country which not only gained its independence from Westminster, but has also held a referendum on ditching the monarchy and becoming a republic, the spokesman went on to say, “Many Australians, including the great number with close Scottish connections, will look on in bafflement at these remarks – Australia is a country that has gained its independence from Westminster and has never looked back. Australia has prospered as an independent country, able to make decisions for itself. I wonder how many Australians would like to see that reversed.”


Opinion: Keep your thoughts to yourself

As a proudly patriotic Scot living in Australia, I find Tony Abbott’s comments deeply offensive and, to be honest, downright ignorant. Who is he to say that a nation which seeks to be independent because it believes that it would be better in the long-term for its people should be ostracised by the rest of the world? Tony should have stuck with his first comment, “What the Scots do is a matter for the Scots and not for a moment do I presume to tell Scottish voters which way they should vote.”

The 18 September vote is deeply personal for all Scots, one which isn’t helped by those who have little understanding of the emotional pull of national identity. On one hand you have been part of a nation, which for the most part has been great, but on the other, you have seen your country pillaged by conservative governments over decades, shutting down industries and testing poor policies. The people of Scotland, and note it is not all Scottish people, only those who currently reside there, are being given the chance to have a say on the future of their country. They are being given the chance to decide if they are strong enough to make it alone, the chance to be responsible for their own future. Is this not what Australians wanted when they claimed independence in 1931?

Having recently been back to Scotland I can tell you that the decision for many is not an easy one. Many Scots see themselves as Scottish before British, yet making the actual step to distance themselves from Great Britain is perhaps a step too far.

So Mr Abbott, if you truly are a ‘friend of Britain’, you’ll keep your opinions to yourself and let those who actually live in the country make their own decision. And for the record, I’m one Scot who wouldn’t mind if you never ‘spoke’ to me again.

Should Tony Abbott concentrate on what is happening in Australian politics rather than speak on matters which don’t appear to concern him? Were his comments misguided or does he accurately reflect the feelings of Australians?

Written by Debbie McTaggart