Monday 23 July 2012

Cow Girl Takes a Test

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 (  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.  :-)


  1. Replies
    1. Hey, but think of all the cash to be made from those test fees!

  2. Collect the fees then deport them.

    1. Ah, but you see, they can keep coming back for more than one go. :-)

  3. But if they pass what then?

    1. Then they will be more English than the English. :-)

  4. And I thought you once said "There are minorities in London, but assuming you are not talking about foreigners, who are heavily outnumbered by the locals, they are still Londoners."

    How are there supposed to be minorities if citizenship is not given?

    And what kind of country would base citizenship on questions such as the percentage of teenagers in it? A country that is seeking to gain statistic experts as citizens?

    It is rather impolite to use a metaphor of cows to refer to people. Would you be alright with a person from our side of the meadow calling a Brit who has come to work in countries of the Middle East such as UAE, Qatar, KSA, Kuwait...etc. intrusive cows who have trespassed our side of the meadow? What do they know about our countries except for the racist stereotypes they occasionally hear about our people in the news?

    1. First of all, Lama, hello and welcome. :-)

      Yes, I did say that; London is full of minorities of one kind or another but that does imply that they are not also citizens. I think it is important for prospective citizens to have some understanding of the country they are coming to, an understanding of its history, its system of government, its way of life and its political culture. Study followed by examination is clearly one approach, though the actual content of the final paper is obviously a matter of debate. The test paper given here is but a brief example. The actual thing is much more comprehensive.

      Yes, I agree, it is deeply impolite to refer to other people in bovine terms, to use any kind of animal image for that matter, but that is really an issue that you will have to take up with Mehdi Hasan.

  5. Hi, to settle permanently in UK, we must pass the British Citizenship Test. So be prepare in other sites before giving official test like example ->