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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 80

Historical Causes of Our Difficulties

Historical Causes of Our Difficulties.

The cause of the present difficulties in relation to the foregoing and other questions lies far back in the history of the development of our Empire, The case of the loss of the American Colonies in 1776, just as well as the questions of Chinese Labour in the Transvaal or the Newfoundland Fisheries, illustrates the underlying evil. It will be found that most, if not all, the cases of friction between the Home Government and the States oversea in relation to questions arising between the latter and other countries, and as to relations between the Home Government and those States themselves, came about because the latter had no direct voice in the Councils of the Crown. It was so with the secession of the United States when the British nation and its King consistently opposed the views and interests of the Colonies in America, and it was also the case when the Transvaal was handed back to the Boers in 1881 in order, as we now know, to keep certain politicians from leaving the British Cabinet.

As has already been pointed out the development of the Constitutions of the several Colonial States has been almost entirely from the point of view of their respective domestic affairs and interests. They have Parliaments to which the Colonial Ministers of the Crown—the advisers of their King's Representatives—are responsible, and, since the control of the Home Government is merely nominal, with regard to all their home affairs their evolution is complete. But notwithstanding all this development in questions of their foreign relations and matters relating to the external policy of these States no advance has been made. His Majesty is advised by a Cabinet of Ministers who in no way represent either the Parliaments or the electors beyond the sea. In such a body these electors have, constitutionally or in fact, no confidence, since page 8 they cannot in any way influence or control the selection

The present connection of the United Kingdom and the States oversea may be illustrated by a reference to well-known mechanical laws. Each State may be likened to a pyramid, the base of which represents the more populous working classes of the electorate, and the superstructure the remainder of the political governing classes terminating in the apex of the Crown. In the several communities, as we have seen, the centres of political power lie near the bases of the structures, but they are only united in the Crown. There will be a natural tendency for the several parts to break away unless they are united by bonds, at their sides and bases as well as at the top. Some of these bonds are purely political, such as Imperial Conferences of Premiers—others are informal, such as closer relations by improved means of communication, by conferences of representatives of the Press—by closer trade relations—and by personal ties arising out of the emigration from home—each bond in its own sphere discharging a distinct function, but all tending towards the welding together of the whole. The object of the present article is to indicate how another tie can be created to obviate some of the evils of the existing system of control of Foreign and Imperial affairs, especially those primarily concerning the States beyond