Will swearing an allegiance to the Queen produce better citizens? According to Lord Goldsmith, it will. Appointed by Gordon Brown to look at ways of enhancing citizenship, Goldsmith has come up with the idea of encouraging children and school leavers to swear an oath of allegiance to the Queen. Financial inducements will be offered to encourage participation, including council tax rebates and student fee reductions.
If carrots have to be dangled on sticks to make people have a sense of pride in either their country or somehow enhance their sense of civic duty, then perhaps its time to pack it all in and head for the hills.
An alternative method would be to install in people a sense of dignity, respect and self worth, born out of a full and rewarding educational background, all based on the mantle of a sound and secure family upbringing. Sounds condescending? Not really. When people have no respect for those around them and no respect for themselves, then any affinity for their country or its institutions is going to negligible.
Respect is also a two way street – not only does it have to be taught, it has to be earned. Therefore all those in positions of influence and authority, including the media, the police, those in the entertainment world etc, all have a part to play in increasing the sense of civic pride and duty which is lacking in today’s modern society.
Somehow, I don’t think reading an oath to the Queen from a sheet of paper will achieve this. In fact, it will only serve to alienate a section of society who already feel isolated and vulnerable. We don’t want a world of little Dennis Skinner’s do we?
Or do we?