Now that we know this country is bulging with new immigrants, citizenship and what exactly it means to be British has become rather the flavour of the moment. Theresa May, the Home Secretary, has commissioned a test for those who want to make a home in England’s green and pleasant land, requiring them to know quite a lot about the land of hope and glory! British? Know the Bard…or you’re barred, declared the Sun in its inimitable fashion.
The New Statesman’s Mehdii Hasan has clear views on the subject. He wonders who has the right to define what is relevant to British “culture and history.” This man who thinks that non-believers, meaning non-Muslims, are unreflective people of no intelligence, like cattle, is raising objections to the document on which the test will be based. He describes Life in the
United Kingdom: a Journey to Citizenship as a “deeply disturbing.”
I’ve not read it myself, but according to Mehdi it “rewrites British colonial history and presents a skewed and reactionary view of the past.” Consider the following passage, he says;
For many indigenous peoples in Africa, the Indian subcontinent, and elsewhere, the
British Empire often brought more regular, acceptable and impartial systems of law and order than many had experienced under their own rulers, or under alien rulers other than Europeans . . . Public health, peace and access to education can mean more to ordinary people than precisely who are their rulers.
Oh dear, how dire. The thing is it just so happens to be true, but one dare not say anything in favour of Empire, at least not in the pages of the Holy New Statesman. That’s bad enough but it gets worse. The test is a weapon, you see, in the battle to cut net migration, rather than a battle for greater community cohesion. It has to be; Mehdi has spoken. Would that include cohesion for cattle, I wonder?
In writing his piece Mighty Mehdi decided to take the existing online practice test paper, helpfully supplied by the Home Office (www.ukcitizenshiptest.co.uk). Go ahead; be a devil! (Non-Brits have a get out of jail free card.) I was a devil, I am a devil. I decided to follow in his path and every other member of the New Statesman editorial team. How could I not, after being told that they all failed, including the Mighty One!
There are twenty-four questions in all, with a pass set at eighteen correct, that’s a 75% hurdle. People are given lots of time to ponder their answers, the whole thing timed at forty-five minutes.
Now, you’re really anxious to know how I got on, are you not? I won’t keep you in suspense. I got twenty-two out of the twenty-four right, a pass mark of 92%, and it took me all of two minutes and eighteen seconds! I failed on two – the number of teenagers in the
UK and the percentage of people who define themselves as Muslim, pure guesses in both cases. OK, OK, I’m mooing loudly, an egotistical pleasure that, on this occasion, I simply cannot resist.
So, I’m safe. Mehdi and the New Statesman crew will have to surrender their passports and pay a £50.00 fee to be allowed to take the test again. I would not allow them that loophole. Send the whole pack to pastures new, anywhere off my meadows! I, in the meantime, will ruminate in contentment, unreflective cow that I am. :-)