Surely you're joking, Mr Goldsmith

"SCHOOLCHILDREN are to be encouraged to swear an oath of allegiance to the Queen and promise to obey the law in ceremonies similar to those for new immigrants.

A review of citizenship by Lord Goldsmith, the former attorney-general, will say this procedure could strengthen children’s understanding of what it means to be British."

(From The Times Online)

For all the furore this is certain to cause, it's still a silly season news item. The chances of anything like this happening are, I believe, ridiculously low. For that reason I'd normally ignore it, but I'm Scottish, and it's stuff like this that really, really gets my back up.

I have a distinct memory of returning to Scotland by car from London in the late Seventies with my Dad after a weekend trip. It was the time of the Queen's Jubilee. It was also a time when the Sex Pistols were in the charts with God Save The Queen. All the way back up through England, there was bunting everywhere, along with the street parties, the commemorative mugs, the union jack t-shirts - you name it.

The closer and closer we got to the border between England and Scotland, the less and less street parties and obvious signs of commemoration there were. As soon as we were over the border, there was nothing. I mean it stopped dead. The Jubilee might well have been happening in England, but it was an awful lot rarer north of the Border.

I, like a lot of Scottish people, was also later somewhat mystified by the outward signs of public grief over the death of Princess Diana. Lots of celebrities who got where they were by marrying the right person have had unfortunate deaths. What on Earth was the big deal? I was far from alone in this judgement.

So you can imagine my reaction to even the suggestion that British kids could be 'encouraged' to swear allegiance to the Queen. I can also imagine a lot of other people's reaction north of the Border were something like this to come anywhere near to being implemented, which I suspect would largely take the form of voting for Scottish independence in unprecented numbers.

One does of course wonder what the people behind this suggestion might have put forth on how to treat those opting not to 'swear allegiance' to an unelected Head of State who represents so much of what is wrong in the United Kingdom, not least class inequality. And let's all breathe a sigh of relief when this particular item fades quietly into obscurity along with the Sinclair C5 and other famous bad ideas from the past.

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