There is concern among the population generally that our national identity is being diluted, and this seems to have been taken on board by the PM, who has instructed Lord Goldsmith to look into the matter. It would appear from what has been said on television today, 11.03.08, that there is a proposal to require children to swear allegiance to the Crown. When I lived in Africa as a small child, Empire day was a great occasion and I have a feeling that allegiance to the flag was in there somewhere. When I joined the Navy, on that first day I think we were lined up and had to swear allegiance. When I was a boy scout, I think we swore allegiance at the same time as having a short prayer at the beginning of every meeting. In retrospect possibly in later years, when there were splinter groups like the Brown Shirts, the Red Shirts and the Black Shirts, we were so British it had almost hurt.
With sweeping problems like this one, I often think of an analogy, and find the reduction in scale enables me to see my way more clearly. When I think of our country I compare it to my home as an analogy, and the nation as my family. We as a family don’t need to constantly assert our affection, we take it as a given, demonstrated by our actions, our respect and concerns. I have come across people who are effusive, and I find that they’re not respected. I think Lord Goldsmith perhaps has forgotten his schooldays, when we had assembly every morning, with a Bible reading and prayers. This, unlike Sunday School, impinged not at all on my religious outlook, it was a bore and a waste of time. When I was young we not only knew we were British we were proud we were, and I do not believe that swearing allegiance in any way is a solution. All the time that we have ghettos in our country, a sense of isolation contributed to by the lack of a cohesive family life, factions determined in every way to emphasise their difference, and a level of political apathy among the indigenous population, we will continue to be more isolated, more indifferent. I can remember when we knew the names of practically everybody in our street, and had been, at some time or other, into about 30% of the houses. I lived for 42 years in a house in its own grounds and had very little to do with the residents who were more than 4 houses away from us. It is our lifestyle, of course, which is to blame. We are so busy, today, even more than we were 15 years ago, but I believe we have little time to even think about being British, until some occurrence causes us to wake up to the fact, such as the Archbishop of Canterbury wanting to meddle with our constitutional rights.
My own experience of having been evacuated in my last year at school, and then going into the Navy, has taught me that friendships made at school, if continued into adulthood last forever, providing geographically it is possible. Friendships made in later life, as a result of work or other associations, can be equally strong, but will be fewer in number. So this reasoning could imply that if Britishness is indoctrinated during the schooling years is should last. The problem is that being British, is not like favouring a football club, there is no contact on a repetitive basis which strengthens the bond. In my day we had two wars which brought the country together as nothing else could. Now we are told we are part of Europe, but we are being more and more concerned with our effect on Europe and Europe’s effect on us. This does not strike me as fertile ground for Britishness. It only surfaces when everybody in the country rises up against some European law which is totally un-British.