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Anorak | A British Farce

A British Farce

by | 1st, November 2005

‘LONG gone are the days when you could spot a Briton by his civilising manner, bowler hat and stiff upper lip. These days John Bull swears in public, wears a chavtastic Burberry cap perched on his head and emotes like a banshee in therapy.

Osman tried hard to blend into the crowd

Immigrants should be aware of this change in the look of the typical British gent lest they stand out from the crowd when taking the new Britishness test. They wouldn’t want to turn up to one of the 90 test centres looking ridiculous.

And turn up they must. As the Sun says, from today immigrants must pass the Government’s test if they are to become UK citizens.

And don’t worry if you fail the 45-minute exam because, as the Express says, you can keep on taking it so long as you pay the £34 administration fee.

Not that you’ll fail. The Express says it’s easy. Wannabe Brits will not need to know anything about British history as they’ll only be tested on day-to-day life.

To Shadow Home Secretary David Davis this is just too awful. “It is a disgrace that the sample questions seem to show there will be nothing about British history in the test. Understanding British history is crucial to understanding how our country works in practice today.”

That it does. Immigrants need to know about our relationship with the Germans if they are to sing about “Two World Wars and One World Cup” at football matches like a native. History will help them understand why the Scots have their own parliament, and why Geordies sound like they’re speaking Danish.

But the real complaint is that the test will only be compulsory for those with a good grasp of English. Those who can’t speak a word of their adopted country’s idiom will not be required to take the test. As the Sun says, all they’ll need do to qualify for a British passport is to attend an English for Speakers of Other Languages course.

To the Express this is a “farce”. But however absurd there’s no need for immigrants with decent English to put on a dumb show. The Mail says passing this test is “as easy as ABC”.

The exam, based on a 145-page pamphlet, Life in the UK, written by Sir Bernhard Crick, is not exactly onerous. As Tony McNulty, the Immigration Minister, explains in the Sun: “I don’t want the bar set too high to deter people from applying.” Quite so.

And to encourage new arrivals to make the effort, here are a few of the 24 multiple choice questions in the test. You’ll need 18 correct answers to pass.

Question: “Where does Father Christmas come from?” Answer: “A) Lapland; B) Iceland; C) The North Pole.” Tricky perhaps for a Sudanese Muslim, but a walk in the tundra for Icelanders and Eskimos.

Question: “How old must you be to buy a lottery ticket?” Answer: “A) 21; B) 18; C) 16.”

Question: “Did Tony Blair lie in the build up to the Iraq war?” Only joking. That’s an example of our fabled British sense of humour. Something else any immigrant will have to get used to…’



Posted: 1st, November 2005 | In: Tabloids Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink