Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Citizenship test

The other thing I read in the pub was this article about the British citizenship test for new immigrants. I'm not sure the difficulty of the questions is really the issue here; even if they were made much easier, most people probably couldn't answer them. The question is, whether immigrants should be required to know more about this country and its institutions than the people who actually live here? As they stand, I don't know the answer to a fair number of them. Let me give you a sample.

In response to the question that asked when the various saint days for Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland are the only honest answer would be that I can't remember so remind me when it's St. Patrick's day so I can stay indoors and avoid Glasgow's considerable psuedo-Irish population. ("Ah, the craic..." Oh, fuck off - you were born in Govan for God's sake!)

There's also one about the main Christian festivals and when they are. Now I understand Christmas and Easter - and I understand the orthodox theology that argues you can't have the latter without the former - and I know when Christmas is (25th of December, right?) but when the bleeding hell is Easter? They keep moving it, for crying out loud - and according to no pattern I can discern. Something to do with the lunar calendar I believe. Someone explained it to me once but I couldn't concentrate on what they were saying because it sounded completely insane.

It wasn't in the paper but I understand that questions about the Church of England are included. I don't know what they are but I doubt I could answer any of them. For example, if there was a question that asked what the Anglican church actually believed, I'd be at a complete loss. Any answers in the comments box please.

This isn't the only question that isn't about the UK at all but rather England: there's ones about the English legal system and English regional accents. Will they be asked how many members serve on a Scottish jury, hmmm? And how many readers even knew it was different from England? I'm not a nationalist but I am Scottish and that experience alone leads me to believe all this stuff isn't really necessary. Newcomers should obey the law - and I do think learning the language, as well as obviously beneficial, is a simple courtesy that should be observed by any immigrant to any country (New Zealanders and Canadians take note - you struggle in this area I've found) but the rest they can pick up as they go along. Isn't that enough?

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