Ladies and Gentleman, the world might just have found its new George W. Bush. Albeit without the muscle of the US. Or the nuclear weapons. Or the economy. Or the international recognition. Or anything like the power.
But the swagger and the international derision… well, it’s there in spades.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has decided to weigh into Scottish politics, giving a startling interview to The Times newspaper in which he labeled people who wanted Scotland to secede from the United Kingdom as ‘enemies of freedom and justice’.
And that, according to two years worth of polls, includes almost half the Scottish population.
Voters in Scotland will go to a referendum in mid-September, to determine whether or not Scotland should remain part of the UK. While in London earlier this week, Abbott gave The Times a statement full of the sort of ‘freedom loving’ rhetoric for which George W Bush became infamous.
"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,” Mr Abbott told The Times, before going on to tell the Scots which way they should vote.
"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, the friends of freedom, and the countries that would cheer at the prospect… are not the countries whose company one would like to keep.”
BBC Scotland political correspondent Glenn Campbell described Abbott's comments as “the most outspoken of any international leader on the forthcoming referendum”.
Scotland has long debated breaking away from the United Kingdom. The latest iteration of the debate gathered steam in 2012, but on no occasion has any poll reflected majority support for the move, with figures consistently hovering around the 40 per cent mark. However, the number of people "vehemently opposed to independence" has declined over time.
Of course, if Abbott’s influence on the Scottish population mirrors that of his influence in Australia, his opposition to secession is likely to strengthen the yes vote.
Since coming to office, Abbott has enjoyed the lowest rating of a new Australian government since polls began, with his net approval rating consistently in the negative.
Lurching from domestic disaster to domestic disaster, in the last few months Abbott has instead focused his energies on international matters, sending police to Ukraine to investigate the MH17 tragedy, and gaining international attention for remarks about Russian president Vladimir Putin which were widely deemed the most extreme of any world leader.
Russia responded to international sanctions with sanctions of his own against the West, banning good and services from Australia (primarily meat, butter and live animals) worth almost $1 billion a year to Australian producers.
More recently Abbott has announced Australian troops would join efforts to bring stability in Iraq. It’s a bitter irony, because it was Australian troops who helped bring instability to Iraq a decade ago.
Abbott is back in Australia this evening, and will join the Mudgee to Sydney leg of his annual Pollie Pedal over the next two days.
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