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10:24am on Wednesday, 12th March, 2008:
There's a proposal by Lord Goldsmith that, among other things, school-leavers should have a "coming of age" ceremony in which they would be asked to swear allegience to Queen and country.
So, what if an 18-year-old doesn't want to swear allegience? It's not as if they can be deported...
Personally, I would not have sworn allegience to Queen and country. I may have allegience to Queen and country, but there's no way would I swear it. I'm not giving future monarchs and governments, to whom I may not have allegience, free rein to call in my oath.
OK, so there is a way I would have sworn allegience: under duress. However, an oath made under duress is meaningless. If there are any negative consequences to not swearing allegience, then people would feel pressured into making the oath. It's one thing to swear allegience and mean it, but another thing entirely to do so because if you didn't you'd suffer the consequences.
What's bizarre about this whole affair is that Lord Goldsmith was commissioned to write his report by the government, so presumably he knows a thing or two about Britishness; that being the case, how come his proposed solutions are entirely unBritish?
Here's the thing, Lord Goldsmith: by calling for us to swear allegience to Crown and country, you're implying that we don't have any such allegience. This is a gross affront! We do have such an allegience, but it's personal, not public, and it's earned, not taken for granted. We love our country because it's worth loving. We don't like out-of-touch petty government functionaries telling us to make public what is essentially a private matter. Come to that, we just don't like out-of-touch petty government functionaries.
We'll be exhorted to fly flags from our houses next...
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