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National politics

Coming of age ceremonies

This morning the Radio 4 Today programme is talking about Lord Goldsmith’s proposal that children leaving school should pledge an oath of allegiance in a ceremony modelled on the citizenship ceremony for immigrants.

Oath of allegianceI had some recent experience of these as earlier this year I attended my wife’s citizenship ceremony where she pledged an oath of allegiance to the Queen. She is an American who wanted to be able to vote (against Ken Livingstone in particular). On the whole I thought that the ceremony was well done and did indeed make a fitting way to mark the end of the (quite convoluted) journey to British citizenship. I can see how it might be a useful way to mark a child’s coming of age. Maybe it would be more attractive if some kind of party was included in the package!

The oath you have to say in a citizen ceremony is reasonably full-on even for a product of New Labour:

I (name) swear by Almighty God that on becoming a British Citizen, I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second; Her Heirs and successors according to law.

I will give my loyalty to the United Kingdom and respect its rights and freedoms. I will uphold its democratic values. I will observe its laws faithfully and fulfil my duties and obligations as a British Citizen.

It doesn’t take too long to work out what is wrong with our schools when John Dunford from the Association of School and College leaders said it was “a half-baked idea that should be left to go mouldy”. OK so someone representing a union responsible for people teaching our young people writes off a constructive suggestion with name calling. Not very impressive.

Update: New Labour icon, Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, quangocrat extraordinaire, was the first interviewee on Today’s flagship 8:10am slot this morning. On this subject she said: “I’m afraid I groaned … risible … puerile … serious mistake … divisive … coercive … empty gesture …” If this pernicious, Scottish lawyer is that against this idea it must have some merit if only because it so infuriates this pompous, unelected twit.