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Best of British?
The government’s reported decision to expunge understanding of the Human Rights Act from the Life in the UK Test for migrants resurrects the old trope about ‘what it means to be British’.
It would seem to presuppose monarchist sympathies, at the very least, as applicants will need to know the words to God Save the Queen (John Bull, not The Sex Pistols). Mercifully however, the bit about crushing ‘rebellious Scots’ (are you listening, Alex Salmond?) is tactfully excluded, as the knowledge requirement will be limited to the first verse only.
Elsewhere, a stronger emphasis on ‘traditional’ British history will require incomers to know about historical characters such as Winston Churchill, the Duke of Wellington, Lord Byron and Isambard Kingdom Brunel. And the odd woman, too.
We don’t see any prominent legal figures of the past floated for inclusion though; which is a pity, given the pre-eminence of English law. If it’s ‘traditional’ the government wants, with a dash of quintessentially English eccentricity, Obiter’s vote goes to Sir Aubrey Melford Steed Stevenson, who defended Ruth Ellis and sat in judgment on the Kray twins. So fanatical about the rule of law was Melford that he named his Sussex house ‘Truncheons’. And of the Krays, he remarked that the homicidal twins told the truth only twice during their trial - once when Reg called the prosecuting counsel a fat slob, and again when Ron said the judge was biased.
Perhaps readers will have suggestions for other notable legal personalities or historic events that should be on the curriculum? And not just for migrants.
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