In a moment of boredom the other day, I noticed that David Cameron's government have made some changes to the UK 'Citizenship Test'. I won't get into the "are we subjects or citizens" debate, but I do think this is a ridiculous idea.
The test is called "Life in the UK", and is a requirement for any new applicant for British nationality. So, you would think it would ask questions about everyday life in the UK, wouldn't you. But no. (Incidentally, British people of a more Celtic persuasion may have noticed that the test appears to apply to just one of the UK's four nations.)
I tried answering some of the questions here just for a laugh. I should declare at this stage that I was born in Hampshire, hold a British passport, and tend not to feel comfortable with bodily contact of any kind. In other words, I'm quintessentially British. Furthermore I have lived in the UK for all of my adult life, so I figured I'd be pretty good at this test. Er, no.
In fact I scored 18 out of a possible 24. Actually that's a pass - which is nice, as it presumably means I get to stay here for a while longer. But I couldn't help noticing that other people - British people, as well as foreign nationals who have lived here for some time - struggled with the test. These are intelligent people who are comfortable dealing with everyday matters in British life, so you would think that a test called "Life in the UK" would be a doddle. Again, no. An admittedly unscientific self-selecting sample of around 20 people all failed. Every single one of them.
So, I could only conclude there is something wrong with the test. Nobody needs to know when the first Census took place, or who the Queen is allowed to marry - or, indeed why the Queen is the Queen at all. What the test really needs is questions that do relate to life in the UK as we live it. Here are my suggestions, which Cameron is free to use. I won't even charge him.
If you can pass this test by scoring 50% or more, you should be entitled to claim a British passport. If you fail, you should have to give your passport back, and move somewhere more appropriate.
Ownership of which item can protect you from deportation?
(a) A gun
(b) A copy of the Daily Mail
(c) A cat
(d) A whistleblowing website
(e) A huge pile of cash
If you are caught exceeding the speed limit, what should you do?
(a) Admit liability and pay a fine
(b) Slow down
(c) Attempt to bribe the police officer
(d) Claim your wife was driving
In a General Election, who controls the vote count and announces the winner?
(a) The Returning Officer
(b) Simon Cowell
If a train leaves London at 0945 bound for Nottingham, what excuses will be offered for it being four hours late?
Complete the following well-known phrase: "I see a little silhouetto of a man..."
True or False: The Prime Minister is selected from the ranks of minor royalty.
Healthcare in the UK is...
(b) Only available to those with expensive health insurance
The answer is (a), unless you are taking the test after 31 December 2013, in which case the answer is (b).
Explain the rules of "Mornington Crescent" in 50 words or less.
The correct response to "how are you?" is
(a) Very well thank you
(b) I'm fine, how are you
(c) Mustn't grumble
Which is the odd one out?
(a) Short Leg
(b) Silly Point
(c) Deep Cover
(d) Wet Blanket
Jammy Dodgers are:
(a) a professional baseball team
(b) one of your five a day
Complete the following sentence: "I'm not racist, but..."
Someone pushes into a queue ahead of you. Do you:
(a) Push back in ahead of them
(b) Protest loudly
(c) Do nothing
(d) Mutter quietly about the lack of morals in modern society
Fill in the blank: "_______ Britain"
Explain the correct use of apostrophe's.
Chips and _______
(b) curry sauce
_______ and chips
What generally accompanies the phrase "you couldn't make it up?"
(a) A devastating exposé of the decline of Britain
(b) Shocking facts about the exploitation of hard-working white British families
(c) Something that is completely made up
What is the correct name for a Snickers bar?
You are leaving a pub after a long session of binge-drinking. What do you lose?
(a) Your phone
(b) Your clothes
(c) Your lunch
(d) Your self-respect
(e) All of the above
Welcome to Britain! Please let us know if you have any suggestions for further questions to be added to the test.