“our partnership with Australia is one of our greatest assets in world affairs already. But my visit is also the product of a decisive change in the foreign policy of the United Kingdom.”
It seems that the Brits have finally found a use for us Australians. Seeing that we are strategically placed between India, China, and the US, they are using the old vestiges of Empire (the Commonwealth of Nations) to re-kindle that ‘special relationship’.
Last year, I asked on Q and A, “what was the point of the Commonwealth?” I never got a satisfactory answer then. Now it seems that the point of the Commonwealth is for the Brits to advance their geopolitical interests. Hague said so as much in his keynote as well as in this post. Others like Sam Roggeveen and Graeme Dobell have their own take on the keynote.
Dobell observes that former British prime minister Tony Blair in his memoirs “doesn’t mention the Commonwealth once. Not a word. His memoir touches on quite a bit of Commonwealth territory; on aid, especially, and the workings of the Africa Commission. But the soft power of the Commonwealth seems so limp it doesn’t rate in the mind of Britain’s longest-serving Labour Prime Minister.”
I think the most apt observation on the Commonwealth is from, former SAS member, Ken Connor:
“For the first dozen years of its existence, the Commonwealth had meandered along like some gentlemen’s club. The membership rules were relaxed sufficiently for one or two of the more decent types of native to be admitted, but it remained an organisation where the rulers of Britain and the white dominions could get together and enjoy a few chotah pegs while reminising about the good old days.
The steady increase in independent Asian and African members changed all that. By 1960 the white nations’ Commonwealth majority had been ended. From now on it would dance to a very different tune.”
- Ken Connor in Ghost Force: The Secret History of the SAS, page 170.
Now that the Brtis have re-discovered (a use for) Australia and want to strengthen that relationship under the guise of the Commonwealth, what rights, privileges or immunities would an Australian receive in the United Kingdom, other than the right to vote in the London mayoralty elections?
Photo: UK Foreign Secretary William Hague (Peter Morris/Lowy Institute).