Tuesday, 11 March 2008

A British Oath of Allegiance

According to today's news the government is to consider making schoolchildren swear an oath pledging allegiance to the Queen and respect for the law.

The suggestion comes from a review of citizenship ceremonies led by former Attorney General Lord Goldsmith. At last October's launch it was suggested that "people born and raised in this country are often far too cynical about being British and it seems to be a national pastime to put down British institutions and our way of life."

We are governed by half-wits. As a nation we don't do pledges of allegiance. And we have always laughed at our institutions. It's the way we express our affection for them.

I just can't see our children standing to attention, right hands on their hearts, singing 'We are the World'. But if it's inevitable - and stupidity in government usually is - Brother Tobias can at least offer his services by drafting the oath.

One based on the American model doesn't work too well:

"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of Great Britain (or to one of the several flags of its constituent countries, and also to the flag of the European Union) and to the Republic Kingdom State for which it they stand, one four Nations (or six if you include Geordies and the Cornish), under God (or gods, or not, as appropriate), indivisible, with liberty (at least when there is no room left in prisons) and justice (but not necessarily in equal measure) for all."

Here is my alternative paean to the British way of life:

I pledge allegiance to...

Binge-drinking on a Friday night,
Humbugs, Hovis and Marmite;
Train delay, Cadbury's Milk Tray,
Ann Widdecombe and Ronnie Kray;
HP sauce, repeats of Morse,
Spotted Dick for second course;
Private Eye, Beano and Eagle,
Triumph Norton, Reliant Regal;
Basil Brush, Winnie the Pooh,
Not jumping the Post Office queue;
Tabloid rags, banning fags,
Football players and their WAGS;
Jones's (Griff Rhys and Catherine Zeta),
Balamory and Blue Peter;
H and coke, (downers and uppers),
Takeaways and TV suppers;
David Beckam, Dickie Bird,
Being good at coming third;
Falling standards, nits in schools,
Government by deluded fools...

...But frankly, any oath's absurd
Except one short, four-letter word.

(It's a work in progress)

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