I was going to blog at length on Lord Goldsmith’s report that pupils should take an Oath of Allegiance when they leave school. Fortunately Mark Steel did it much better than I ever could in today’s Independent. Read his bit and you can catch up me further down the page…
… no, not here – keep going down …
…. even further down ….
… here it is …
Samuel Johnson said “Patriotism is the Last Refuge of a Scoundrel”. It’s certainly where politicians turn when they need a distraction and don’t have enough money to give tax cuts.
How is it that someone as clever Lord Goldsmith could think that forcing kids to chant empty words in unison can cure the problems we have in our society? It’s magical thinking : “Izzy Wizzy – Let’s Get Busy ! Kazaam ! Abracadabra !” Problem solved.
And as a fetish object that we should pledge ourselves to, the Queen is far from ideal. The conduct of the House of Windsor has been less than worship-worthy over the years and there’s every likelihood that some of her successors will be even less suitable.
Plus, if you happen not to be a member of the Church of England, your allegiance is likely to be at best shared between the Queen and the leader of your church.
Personally, none of my activities have ever been remotely against the interests of my country and I can’t think that’s likely to change in future. Even if I were considering “Arson in the Queen’s Dockyards” or something equally treasonous, I doubt that an Oath of Allegiance would alter my decision.
The only reason I can think of for greater Patriotism is that it might improve our ability to cope in the event of War. Unfortunately greater Patriotism seems to make Wars more likely, so let’s not take the risk.
Many people are doing many things to help society, the environment and their country. I think the government should encourage people to DO something and to worry less about forcing people to SAY something.