(This blog appears a day later than planned). The Prime Minister proposed, a while ago, that foreigners take an oath for those who want to come to live and work in Britain.
Such an oath is designed to affirm a commitment to British values. There is a problem with this though: British values remain somewhat elusive for a number of reasons.
Despite the mainstream media’s best efforts, many Britons, and many a foreigner moreso, are further aware that we have, shall we say, a bit of a history. This helps explain how we tend to stick to safe examples like World War Two – again without too many details.
To our disadvantage, because the vast majority of us have not been to public school, we have not been imbued with the automatic sense of privilege and understanding of what British values are, otherwise, we, like they, would be the embodiment of it.
But having a certain amount of insight and history as a nation, those moments of furiously waving the Union Jack around or planting flagpoles in our gardens, are few and far between.
The issue of immigration is a vexed one. Although the entire world population could possibly stand on the Isle of Wight, that doesn’t mean that they should, nor that they should come here to practise.
Nevertheless, there is no denying historically, that we have greatly benefitted from immigrant labour, whether in transport or the NHS and many other fields, and there’s every reason to believe we will continue to do so.
Due to its relentless pursuit by a largely rightwing mainstream media, immigration has too often been the top, or near top, issue in people’s minds at election times. This is almost universally presented as a negative for British society and so there is a major populist bridge to be crossed in order for people to appreciate a certain amount of immigration and to see this in a positive way.
Existing ideas of some points system, or yet more forms to fill in, or even an American style hand-on-heart oath before the Union Jack, are unlikely to satisfy this. Many would rightly ask, What good does that do? Scotland would scoff at this for a start.
So we need, preferably, a method to bridge this gap and quickly and clearly show a certain amount of worth on the part of the immigrant in question. It should have the value of being something popular and populist and be close to unassailable in its sense of a goal scored for those who pass the test.
It would have to be of such a fitting challenge, that the average pub devotee would be satisfied and say, That’s a hard challenge. If they pull it off, then yeah citizenship should be on offer. But it should be tough.
We propose, therefore, that a song be used for this purpose and that the song be the rock classic Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen.
Existing routes to citizenship can still be maintained but fastracking could be offered to those prepared to take the musical challenge.
Any average pub devotee would agree that a hard song, in English, would show a certain amount of commitment to our culture.
It could further be agreed to be videoed, for extra advantage, at the discretion of the judges.
The adjudicating panel, it is proposed, would be of three average Britons, to be selected online from those nominated within given areas.
We propose that would-be citizens sing Bohemian Rhapsody to three judges. This sounds a bit X-Factor but it doesn’t have to be recorded, unless the applicant wishes so, for a certain amount of allowance from the judges, and can remain private.
The judges would assess the level of performance of the applicant and award or deny citizenship accordingly.
The choice of Queen, of course, goes way back in British history, to the 1970s. Rumour had it at the time, and arguably since, that any given cassette tape left in a car player would morph, over time, into Queen’s Greatest Hits.
It’s further only right that Bohemian Rhapsody be recognised as predominantly a male song, but this may in turn also reflect the extent to which resistance to immigrants is led by male citizens.
The Rhapsody, indeed, is a challenge. Long term effects would be to introduce the applicant to a large amount of British culture, including humour and Pythonesque wackiness, as well as the ability to fit themselves to the challenging lyrics.
Controversially, “Put a gun against his head, pulled the trigger” – this warns and allows applicants to appreciate a certain amount of bullishness present in UK culture. In addition, because of this infrequently acknowledged threat, it would not be appropriate to introduce the general ownership of guns, as favoured in some political circles. This would unconscionably be asking for trouble.
It is hoped, being a challenging task, a renewed amount of respect for new citizens may be expected among existing Britons. Indeed new citizens may be sought after for karaokes and for parties in the interests of impressing those present.
Equally a female option should be made available, and we recommend Best Friends from the same CD. This song is often under-rated but may appeal appropriately to the female spirit and would be good to be heard nationally on a regular basis.
Queen, of course, has royal overtones, of instant value reflecting British attachment to the Royal Family. The supergroup, also, was fronted by a raving but macho queen who shot to great fame across the country, and is still highly regarded by the generation most likely to form the judges panel. Some applicants may find it difficult to sing in such circumstance; this will be to their disadvantage.
Similarly, “Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me”, would likely be unacceptable to fundamentalists to voice. In which case, tough.
In order not to be accused of cantorism, special dispensation may be offered to those who cannot sing, but who may be able to play rock guitar to the required standard, again at the judges’ discretion.
The citizenship challenge would underscore for applicants how much rock music and performance play in British life. TV shows like Britain’s Got Talent and X-Factor are remarkably popular and thus the culture made more accessible for those who pass the ordeal.
Accomplishments such as this would ensure that Britain does indeed have talent for a generation to come.
Other dispensations may include reciting, accurately and with feeling, certain scenes from British culture, such as excerpts from the Life of Brian, the Monty Python Parrot Sketch, or chosen texts from Blackadder, all at the judges’ discretion.
The benefits of this challenge cannot be over-stated as it will revolutionise how immigrants are viewed by citizens and equally disempower a vicious rightwing media and their camp.
We feel sure it will be readily appreciated how valuable this will be for the country as a whole, unifying and building for a brighter future.