Today when perusing through the BBC News website (as I do every morning) I saw the top story had a big picture of Her Majesty. Naturally my attention was well and truly captured. Then I noticed the title… “Pupils to take allegiance oath”. My initial reaction was one of joy, “Have the Royalists staged a coup?!”, however as reality set in and as I digested the story I found myself becoming…wait for it…opposed to the idea of an oath of allegiance.
A report commissioned by Gordon Brown on British citizenship suggests that School-leavers should be encouraged to swear an oath of allegiance to Queen and country. The report author, ex-attorney general Lord Goldsmith, says it would give teenagers a sense of belonging. I contest this. I believe it will be nothing more than hollow words to them and words are cheap. I think forced patriotism would actually devalue the notion of patriotism. It shouldn’t be force, it should be natural. In principle I support the idea of the nation becoming more patriotic but I don’t feel that a pledge of allegiance is the best way to achieve it.
We need to educate our children about the importance of our country, our monarchy and our history. We need lessons to instill them with pride about our nation and the instituions and traditions that shape it. I don’t know about anyone else but I can’t remember one single lesson about what it is to be British, what the monarchy is, what the Queen does etc. Further to this lessons on British government were confined to an opitional module, funnily enough government and politics, and one brief seminar in General Studies. This is where the problem lies we aren’t educating our children so how can we expect them to be bothered about anything in this country?
National identity has been greatly eroded, the country once had pride, respect, loyalty and deference to Crown and Country. No longer. Contemporary British society has few such qualities. As is typical of New Labour they feel that they can sort it all out with mere words. This wont wash and it never has. New Labour came in to power with their slogan “Education, Education, Education”… well go on Gordon… let’s see some British education not a bloody pledge.