Would you pass the citizenship test? I didn’t.
I’m British-born and raised; got a degree from a good UK university; I’m a school governor and charity trustee; I’ve even served over a dozen years as a local councillor in two different authorities. I thought I was a fairly solid and well-informed citizen. Even so, I only managed 15 out of 24. You need 18 correct answers to pass. All those commentators who think it’s an easy ride to come and live here should try the test themselves.
I’ve been to a few citizenship ceremonies in Islington, and marvelled at the different experiences that bring people from all over the world to our borough. Now I’ll have extra admiration for them for having passed the exam.
It certainly proves their ability and determination to learn lots of facts – how useful those facts will be to their life in Britain, I’m not at all sure.
Earlier this year I was in Hackney as a guest of my Kenyan-born friend Julliet at her ceremony. (It was delayed because the Speaker of Hackney was nearly an hour late. ‘African time’ said Julliet’s aunt tolerantly. The Speaker was a cockney.) They gave out sheets with the words of the national anthem. No need: Julliet and her family had sung it every day at school. But I know more than a few lifelong Brits who’d be lost without the lyrics.