In a report he issued on British citizenship Lord
Goldsmith has stated that school-leavers should take an oath of allegiance to ‘Queen
and Country’ and suggested that schools should hold citizenship ceremonies for
leavers. Additionally to this, Goldsmith has also proposed for a national
holiday dedicated to ‘Britishness’. One apparently
progressive measure did appear in this report; the removal of archaic penalty
laws for ‘treason’ to the bourgeois state. Modern anti-terror legislation seems
to have done a more than adequate job in superseding this.
Goldsmith argued that school-leavers taking this oath
would somehow give teenagers a sense of belonging to something. We might
have little options but to face huge student debts or low paid insecure service
sector jobs but at least we’ll know we’re doing it for Britain!
Peers of Lord Goldsmith came out criticising this
measure with Baroness Kennedy saying “I think this is a serious mistake – I
think it’s puerile and I think it’s rather silly. The symbols of a healthy
democracy are not to be found in empty gestures and I’m afraid I see this as an
empty gesture." Let’s not forget that the symbols of a healthy democracy
are certainly not found in an unelected legislative institution like the House
of Lords itself.
The report also called for the disenfranchisement of citizens
of the Commonwealth nations from voting in British elections. In practice this
means that people who have lived and worked in Britain for decades, many since
they were children, will be denied votes. This is a disgusting attempt to
cuddle up to racism and fears of ‘overcrowding’ by immigrants diluting ‘our
culture’, and yet another failure to stand for working class unity against
bigots by the Labour right.
My contact with others supposedly in line to take this
oath has shown a large degree of distain towards it, all declaring that they
would be unwilling to take it. This is not surprising; this proposal was
not made to appeal to working class youth who may well be pushed in the
direction of nationalist parties in Scotland and Wales as a result of this
rampant chauvinism. This is far more concerning than most of the proposals
themselves. It is quite likely after their usefulness as headline grabbers has
gone they will be conveniently forgotten.
These proposals were made by a Labour government
that has pandered to the demands of big business at the expense of working
people. In an effort to cover the glaring cracks now appearing in our public
services, below inflation pay rises, the imperialist military adventures in
Iraq and Afghanistan and the Northern Rock farce, it has resorted to flag
waving and giving those unruly kids some sense of pride. This may satisfy the
Daily Mail and a wing of ‘middle England’ but it will do little to answer the
problems for workers and youth. This oath will not stop the economic downturn
or the growing radicalisation of the workers and youth. Socialist policies are
the only solution to this situation and the very thing that those who wrap themselves
in the Union Jack fear most and argue most bitterly against.
The abolition of the monarchy and the House of Lords.
Full economic powers for the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh
Assembly, enabling them to introduce socialist measures in the
interests of working people.