Service Guarantees Citizenship: Would you like to know more?

8 May 2009
by Henry

The Gurkhas have had a very raw deal, and I’m surprised by the way the government is dragging its feet on this one. The government claims that if they allowed all veterans to stay then Britain would be flooded with 100,00 new Gurkha citizens. I seriously doubt this. But, even if they all did decide to come to the UK, then they would deserve it anyway.

Nick Clegg summed it up nicely,

People who are prepared to fight and die for our country should be entitled to live here.

I completely agree with him. If the government isn’t prepared to make good on this entitlement then perhaps they shouldn’t be asking Gurkhas to contribute to Britain’s wars.

The sci-fi film Starship Troopers has brilliant propaganda snippets on this very theme – Service Guarantees Citizenship: Would you like to know more?

A bit of Gurkha background and trivia

  • The Gurkhas were initially enemies of the British Army during the Gurkha War.
  • After agreeing a peace treaty, the British Army started recruiting them into their own forces.
  • The Gurkha motto is, “Better to die than live a coward”.
  • The Brigade of Gurkhas have been a part of the British Army for nearly 200 years.
  • The brigade recruited a peak of 112,000 men during World War Two.
  • Over 43,000 young Gurkha soldiers lost their lives during both World Wars.

Matthew d’Ancona explores the meaning of ‘Britishness’

26 March 2009
by Henry

I’m looking forward to Matthew d’Ancona’s radio series on Britishness. He explores whether Britishness is the glue that can hold us all together or just a word that has lost its meaning.

If you’re resident in the UK then you will be able to listen to this on BBC Radio 4 at 9am on Tue 31 Mar 2009 or on the BBC iPlayer.

English + Scottish + Welsh = British?

9 January 2009
by Henry

I was recently asked on BBC Three Counties whether I think British people were selective about when they choose to identify themselves as British. For example – Scottish people usually recoil at the thought of being accused of being British. Poor Andy Murray was identified as being an English tennis player in much of the US press. An honest mistake but he strongly corrected reporters “I’m Scottish not British”.

What does the British citizenship test say about regional identity? The concept of regional identity is something that was touched on in the British citizenship test. For example some of the peculiar regional New Year’s traditions were included as questions such as “What might you be asked to bring to a Scottish home in the New Year?” the answer “Coal, bread and whiskey”… apparently!

Unfortunately these quirky yet charming questions were removed by civil servants in a later review of the test. Questions about regional differences in schooling and devolved administration now remain.

Who is Amazon’s #1 book on Civil Rights and Citizenship at the moment?

19 December 2008
by Henry

Yesterday, while browsing Amazon.co.uk, I couldn’t help myself and check the rank of How British Are You?. And look! Wow, we’re number 1 in the Civil Rights and Citizenship category. OK, so it’s a niche category – but we’re up there.
We're Number One!

How British Are You interview with Janice Long on BBC West Midlands

12 December 2008
by Henry

Henry Dillon, author of How British Are You?, speaks with Janice Long on BBC West Midlands.

Organise your own Great British Citizenship Pub Quiz

25 November 2008
by Henry

Pub quiz Mondays

It’s three years this month since the controversial British citizenship test was launched to decide whether those applying for a UK passport have a good enough knowledge of life in this to country to become British.

To mark the ominous anniversary, a new pub quiz version of the controversial test is this week being unveiled.

And where better to test our Britishness than a traditional British boozer?

But how would the regulars in your local hostelry fair? Would your drinking mates pass the test with flying colours? Find out by downloading the quiz pack. Send us the results from your pub and we’ll report on the final results.

Click here to download the Great British Citizenship Pub Quiz (PDF) 360K

Photo: flickr.com/kake_pugh / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Behind the scenes of the American citizenship test

22 November 2008
by Henry

It’s fasinating to look at the citizenship tests used in other countries. This video clip gives a behind the scenes look at the actual citizenship test that Scottish comedian Craig Ferguson had to take for his American passport.

What questions would you ask in the British citizenship test?

3 October 2008
by Henry

I received a letter the other day from a reader who had take considerable time to write up some of his own thoughts on questions that should be included in the British citizenship test. I doubt the government will be including any of these any time soon, but hats off for the effort.

During football World Cup finals how many syllables are there in the correct pronunciation of ‘England’?
A. Two
B. Three
C. None – I can’t speak due to monumental pre-match alcohol intake

What does your local council do if you leave the lid of your wheelie bin open?
A. Close it
B. Ignore it
C. Fine you £10,000

When standing at the bar of a pub waiting to order what is the correct way to indicate to staff that you wish to buy a drink(s)?
A. Shout ‘over here you useless %$*&’
B. bang a coin on the counter noisly.
C. Pathetically wave a tenner in hope

When standing at the bar of a pub waiting to order and someone comes and stands next to you and attempts to order before you do you what us the correct response?
A. Let them do so
B. Admonish them saying ‘get in the queue sunshine’
C. Headbutt them

When driving on a motorway in the outside lane at 85mph what is the correct distance to allow between you and the car in front?
A. Six inches
B. A bit more if it’s raining
C. As stated in the Highway Code.

What is the preferred activity of young people on Friday nights?
A. Attending an adult education course
B. Bible study
C. Getting bladdered

When Manchester United are playing at Old Trafford and the scores are level after 90 minutes what is the correct course of action for the referee?
A. Play sufficient ‘stoppage time’ for the Reds to score
B. Award a penalty to the home side
C. Blow for full time

How do you smuggle enough alcohol into cricket Test matches in order to have a working chance of getting jolly and avoid paying exorbitant prices to the caterers?
A. Bribe the gateman
B. Disguise 100 proof spirits with orange juice and hope the gate staff pretend not to notice like last year
C. Wear a poacher’s coat laden with tinnies

If you had been watching a film in a cinema in the Fifties what was the correct etiquette to follow as it ended?
A. Rush out as soon The End appears on screen
B. As the national anthem started up mutter ‘Bloody Hell’ and leave anyway
C. Stand rigidly to attention and sing all the words lustily but slightly out of tune

What is the appropriate response when a gang of yobs sits next to you on the Tube putting their feet on the seats and playing House music loudly on their – probably stolen – cellphones?
A. Identify the ringleader and tap his chest with your silver-topped swordstick saying ‘My good man, pray ask your friends to desist or I shall have no alternative but to call you out’
B. Refuse to have eye contact and try to look as inconspicuous as possible
C. Pretend you have to get off at the next stop and catch the following train

When you are in Tesco wanting to buy one or two bananas and only green ones are on display other than shrink-wrapped packs of more expensive organic ones what do you do?
A. Shrug and take green ones reflecting that because Tesco has told you how cheap everything is you can’t expect perfection
B. Buy some oranges
C. Tear the wrapping off the organic ones and remove ‘organic’ tags from a couple

After reading your free newspaper on the Tube in the morning what do you do with it?
A. Fold it up carefully in order to place it in the next recycling point you come to
B. Try to interest your Polish-speaking neighbour in reading it
C. Drop it on the floor with the rest of them

When you get your first local authority social housing unit what will you do with the front garden?
A. Apply for all The Daily Telegraph ‘free bulbs’ reader offers and plant and water them assiduously
B. Stick in a few cannabis plants
C. Concrete it over to accommodate your pick-up truck and your three son’s motorcycles

How will you approach your 14-year-old son’s sex education?
A. Tell the wife to sort it
B. Tell him to watch as much Big Brother as late at night as possible
C. Steal a copy of The Joy Of Sex from the library but read it yourself

What is ‘dogging’?
A. Walking on Hampstead Heath with your canine pet off the lead
B. A popular version of rapping
C. Alfresco sexual activity with strangers, usually in car parks.

What is a tax declaration?
A. Part of the Duckworth/Lewis method of deciding the result of rain-affected limited over cricket matches
B. An agreement to do some plumbing work without charging VAT
C. Something to do with Hitler invading Poland

When you take a short easyJet break on the Costa del Sol how do you approach eating out?
A. Spend the preceding weeks mugging up enough Spanish so as to be able to order confidently ‘Para empezar, un tuna de bocorones y un racion de gambas a la plancha, despues para mi ocho chuletitas y para la senorita lenguado con patatas pobres y un botella de vino tinto y un botella agua sin gaz por favor’
B. Take a box of Walkers cheese and onion crisps with you
C. Head for the nearest bar offering ‘Full English Served All Day’

When asked your opinion of rail privatisation what do you say?
A. That Richard Branson is a diamond geezer innee?
B. Unfortunately, I was at Maidstone Grammar School with Dr Beeching – where can I buy a hara-kiri sword?
C. Change at Crewe – or should that be change the crew?

An introduction to the British citizenship test

26 September 2008
by Henry

In November 2005, the British government introduced the ‘Life in the United Kingdom’ Test. Its introduction sparked immediate public and media interest as it was labelled a test of “Britishness”. The obvious question raised was, “What is Britishness?”

Of course, the test was never intended to be a test of “Britishness”. Its intention is to assess an applicant’s knowledge of life in the United Kingdom and grasp of English (or Welsh or Scottish Gaelic). But the knowledge of the country which they have to demonstrate is not general knowledge. It is drawn from a government-issued handbook, which they have to study in detail. To pass they must correctly answer at least 18 out of 24 multiple-choice questions.

All questions are drawn from the handbook. The handbook covers a range of topics on life in this country, in particular, demographics, customs, traditions, government, employment and aspects of everyday life. Although the official questions set by the government are not available for public view and are a closely guarded secret, the questions in this book have been used by hundreds of thousands of people to help them pass the test.

For many people, the test is seen as a pub quiz of random information selected by the government. Some people also argue that many British-born citizens would fail the test. Whatever your view of the test, this website will provide an informative, if not quirky, insight into the route to a new British life that most native Brits would take for granted.

Anyone lucky enough to be born in Britain will never have to worry about taking the citizenship test – but if you did, would you pass it?