If you haven't heard of the proposal for every public office holder to swear an oath of allegiance to this country, I forgive you. The way this year is going (just like every year before it), the end of the year can't come soon enough. However, I will take my very own oath as a British citizen, right now, with all the readership as my witnesses.
I vow to fight against an oath for Great Britain.
Unfortunately, the hypocrisy of making an oath to fight oaths doesn't stop there. Even in 2015, when I asked a question on BBC3 Free Speech to a panel of Conservative MPs and voters about this, I was met with a hasty response from the likes of Sam Gyimah MP, that these are just values everyone should hold.
So if everyone holds these values, why is it not just a universal value?
Herein lies the problem. Many of the values that people like our Communities and Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid MP want us to call our own are, in fact, values which stem from global discussions. There is nothing inherently British about being a good person.
A closer look at what these values represent would show us that even our governments and ministers can be scolded for not being British enough. Given that this oath would be for public office holders, maybe it's the government's way of admitting that it has been letting down British people. After all, Iain Duncan Smith's old department has been investigated by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, for endangering the lives of disabled people in the UK. Apparently this is respect for the law, even when you don't like it.
As if we - the people - have not suffered enough, here comes the brigade of self-righteous politicians who can tell you whether you are British enough to be acceptable. Sajid Javid MP, in response to the Casey Review, also wants migrants to take this oath. You can imagine that Twitter users had a lot to say about what should be included in this oath. What makes our current society so different to ones before it that we need a set of values that are exclusive to British people?
You know the answer before I've even said it. Counter-extremism strategy is a delightful little thing. Maybe it's British to pretend integration can be fixed with an oath. "I promise to solve all our problems if you just sign 'here', 'here', and 'here'. Please ignore the fact that it may be mandatory, when we have told you forcing people to do things is bad. You are now more integrated than a mathematical function."
It seems ludicrous that a set of values, being sternly dangled in front of public officials, will turn bigots or hateful people into decent, upstanding citizens. This kind of behaviour is patronising. All it does is play into the trope that those who express outrage at such a thing are un-British. It's very British to be outraged, I'll have you know! People who want to live here already take a Citizenship test; moving here should be enough evidence that you want to be included in society. Instead of creating more hoops, maybe try and treat these people as genuinely British, rather than as not-British-until-proven-otherwise.
Words will not make me authentically British. Am I converting to Britishianity? (I coined that phrase, because apparently we can coin entire value systems by copying global ones nowadays). If we are truly moving towards advocating secular systems, why this strange fundamentalism?
The blunt truth is that this is a last-ditch attempt to appease people who are scared that there is an overpopulation of Muslims in this country. The oath has divided us before anyone has even taken it; talk about unity and all that. The Casey Review, with all its flaws, focuses on justifying government attitudes to Muslims and migrants, rather than proposing solutions. Is it British to have cut funding to English lessons for migrants, and then report that they are struggling to integrate because they don't speak English?
I'll let you in on a secret: apparently it's okay to judge others for your own shortcomings, if you're deciding the meaning of "Britishness" for everyone else.