We don't get to tell them what to do any more

Some our of our own, native grown, politicians haven’t quite grasped the manner in which colonialism is no longer quite fashionable. True, it’s not been all that long since it was de rigeur, the White Man’s Burden and all that to civilise the globe, but it’s very much one of those things not done these days.

Unless, of course, you’re a British MP in which case it seems that all is still possible. We’ve laws which insist that you’re not allowed to bribe a foreigner in foreign for example. Rather something that a non-colonialist would assume is something for local law to decide for itself.

Or, as in this case, we’ve even still got people who think they should decide who rules foreign lands:

As the High Court, courtesy of the Australian constitution’s section 44, knocked out MP after MP, their British counterparts have been watching aghast, not just at the stunning fallout from the bench’s black letter law interpretation but at the fact that Australians have a ban on dual citizen MPs in the first place.

Fairfax Media has spoken to members of the Commons representing Britain’s ruling Conservative party, the Labour party and the Scottish National party, who have all expressed dismay that Australia, alone in the anglosphere, takes such a strident stance on dual nationalities.

They all urged Australia to lift the ban, a call likely to fall on deaf ears, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull rebutting calls for a referendum – the only way of changing the constitution.

Old habits die hard, eh?

British MPs have criticised Australia’s law preventing dual citizens from sitting in Parliament.

Twelve of the 15 Australian MPs removed from Parliament have British and Australian passports.

Andrew Rosindell, Conservative MP for Romford, London and co-chair of the ANZAC Parliamentary friendship group, said the ban was ‘absurd’ given the countries’ shared history.

It’s entirely true that we’ve a shared history. And we don’t operate a ban the other way around either – otherwise Bryan Gould (yes, I know, different flavour of standinguponhisheadperson) wouldn’t have been an MP, would he? But it’s also true that we’ve ended this colonialism thing, where we tell foreigns in foreign what to do.

In fact, we gave up in that burden of civilising the globe earlier in Australia than we did near anywhere else- presumably on the grounds of the complete impossibility of civilising the place. But still, you know, worth British politicians recalling this basic point. Telling those J. Foreigners who live in foreign lands how to live is called colonialism, something we’ve rather given up on these days.

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  1. The Bryan Gould thing actually raises a far more important point – Britain’s schizophrenic* refusal to acknowledge the Empire is gone. Oh yes, you can have your own funny little Parliaments and pretend flags, but you’re really still Empire Subjects, you can come here and participate in our political system, if you’re Irish we even still pretend you’re part of the UK, you can some and go as though visiting Devon, we’ve even got a law on the books stating “Ireland is not a foreign country”.

    *I’ve checked, and I’m using that term correctly.

  2. Factoid of the day – the phrase “white man’s burden” was (of course) coined by Rudyard Kipling in his eponymous poem, and referred to Uncle Sam:
    “The White Man’s Burden: The United States and the Philippine Islands” (1899)

  3. The rule is in the Australian Constitution, so it needs a referendum to have it altered. Given that it’s such a daft and disruptive rule, I expect it will go up for amendment in the next referendum, with the support of both parties. But mounting a referendum solely for that purpose now would just draw attention to how negligent politicians from both parties have been.

    • I don’t see what’s daft about insisting that MPs have a permanent and exclusive commitment to the place they wish to help govern. I’ve made the same point about proposals here to repeal election-day registration to vote; both parties have had out-of-state campaign staff cast votes, and one party has turned it into such an industry that they insist it never happens and all disagreement is racism. (Trump was imprecise when he called it “vote fraud.”)