In what could be considered to be a constitutional ‘Cones Hotline’ moment Lord Goldsmith has recommended the idea of a ceremony to the Dark Lord in a report suggesting that it would it would give teenagers a sense of belonging and would help improve their understanding of what it means to be a British subject / citizen.
Which is lovely.
But if teenagers today are anything like they were when I was at that age the chances of the ceremony being taken seriously are somewhat limited. Swearing an Oath of allegiance to anything wasn’t exactly high up on my list of things to do as a teenager. And like several of my peers I probably would have objected or at least been awkward, not out of any sense of disrespect but rather just for the sheer hell of it.
Also what about republicans? The republican friends that I have are as patriotic as the next man (or woman). I disagree with them totally about their 'ideas' for constitutional reform. But it's their opinion and their entitlement to believe what they like.
But why should someone take an oath if it involves declaring an allegiance that they would never honour. Surely the point of taking an oath is that you will be bound by your words. So for a section of the pupils you are at a stroke putting them in a position where they end up as hypocrites or potentially viewed as less British if they refuse to take part. Which just isn't right.
You could of course go with the ‘crossing ones fingers behind ones back’ route.
You could remove any mention of the Queen, her heirs and successors from the Oath altogether leaving just a mention of the country. But as we do live in a constitutional monarchy it would, from my perspective, make the Oath pointless. Saying you believe in the ground and not the sky.
What really annoyed me though is why it is felt that we (or our kids) should have to do this sort of thing in the first place. If you join an organisation that’s fine. I helped our eldest learn his Scout Promise and hopefully to take seriously the words and undertakings he was making.
But this is different. Really what do we need to prove here? One of the things that I have always felt most comfortable with is the general lack of flag waiving that goes on in this country. I rather like the idea that we don’t keep banging on about this stuff all of the time. It’s going to be a shared sense of history and a sort of commonality that will bind the people as a nation together. And you are either going to get it and feel it or your not. This certainly won’t result from an artificial ceremony designed to reflect or support a short term political objective.
Nor will a ceremony paper over the cracks manifest in society. Those who are going to be productive members of society will be that anyway. Those with a predilection towards stabbing people when challenged as to why they are trashing someones car probably won't be moved by an appeal to declare loyalty to the Crown or the Country..
Mind you I suppose that if our master wants our children to pledge allegiance then I suppose they must. Especially as Goldsmith was recommending a review of the Treason Laws as well.
So one for the kids;
“I swear by the particular version of God espoused by the faith school my parents sent me to;
That I will not moan about the taxes I will pay, the student debt I will incur, the New Deal ‘McJob’ that I get, the ID card that I must carry or the happy slapping or stabbing that I may receive.
I promise that I will rejoice and marvel at the economic prudence, stability and opportunity for the many and not just the few.
One Nation, under the Brown, indescribable, with condescension and Tax Credits for all."