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Home > Media

Citizenship Tests: How New Labour Are You?

7 November 2005

This week finally saw the introduction of the long-planned UK citizenship tests. But what gives the whole thing away as yet another piece of tokenism is the fact that the test has no actual consequences. If a wannabe citizen fails the test, they're not going to be deported. And rightly so - it would be a Kafkaesque world in which you get sent back to Rwanda to get your arms macheted off because you thought Rowan Williams was the head of the Church of England. (It's the Queen. Or Christ or someone.)

The test has also been designed so that it's hard to fail: potential citizens must answer 75 per cent of the questions correctly to pass, but they are allowed to retake it until they do. In other words, it's going to be about as difficult as Bamboozle on Teletext. But the fundamental flaw of the test is that it doesn't test anything useful. Indeed, the qualities that make a good citizen can't be tested by a multiple choice test. What makes a good citizen? Is it knowing when St George's Day is, or doing voluntary work? Is it knowing what the Magna Carta is, or is it offering to look after your neighbour's kids in a crisis?

The whole exercise is basically utterly pointless, and actually rather offensive to new citizens, and as such sits happily in the pantheon of crap New Labour ideas. Above all it's sooooooooooo Blairite and New Labour we couldn't resist devising our own test...



1) The role of a Labour government is what?

A. To manage the country effectively and promote the wellbeing of its citizens with policies that promote progressive ideas such as increasing life opportunities and reducing poverty.

B. To spew out endless back-of-a-fag-packet 'initiatives' like citizenship tests.

2) The greatest threat our island nation has ever faced is what?

A. The Spanish Armada

B. Invasion by the Nazis

C. International terrorism

D. Gordon Brown

3) What is the greatest speech ever given by an Englishman?

A. Henry V's 'Once more into the breach....'

B. Winston Churchill's 'We will fight them on the beaches....'

C. Cherie Blair's 'My immediate instinct when faced with the questions from the Mail on Sunday ten days ago was to protect my family's privacy, and particularly my son in his first term at university, living away from home....'

4) Traditional British values include what?

A. Tolerance, hard work, fair play and a strong sense of right and wrong.

B. Demonising asylum seekers, detention without trial, scrounging free holidays from Italian media crooks, doing favours for your cronies, having affairs with married women, queue jumping and lying when it suits your purpose.

5) Complete the following expression. 'An Englishman's home is...'

A. His castle.

B. The result of a dodgy property deal set up by a convicted fraudster

C. Where his wife and family are while he's shagging his secretary or a government press officer in his MP's flat in London.

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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