Tuesday, March 11, 2008
What happens then? What is the status of those persons? Is it recorded on their national identity database that they are oath refuseniks? Do they suffer any reductions in their citizenship status as a result? Are they to be barred from getting student loans or grants?
Remember we are not talking about people getting naturalised, giving up one allegiance and taking up allegiance to this country. We are talking about people born with the pains and pleasures of UK-ness who have a right to citizenship.
In the glorious tradition of the law of unintended consequences we have found that the ASBO, for some people, becomes a kind of battle honour, a mark of status gained by putting up defiant fingers to 'authority'. I suspect that, for the rebellious and uproarious, 'oath-refusal' might be an even more potent tribal marker.
And on a sober note, being a Quaker I cannot as a matter of conscience take any kind of oath at all. Quaker teenagers commiting to this tradition will likewise not be able to swear allegiance in the way suggested. So the young people for whom I have some care in my Quaker Meetings are directly threatened by this notion.
I do wish some people would actually be proud of the relaxed and civilised way we manage some things in this country instead of being Daily Mail panicked into pseudo-patriotic stunts.
We will soon be nicely boxed into citizens, those who have earned the right to the full benefits of the state, and civilians who decline on grounds of faith or belief to adhere to the demanded norm.