After spending many years observing the efforts of what Robin Day memorably, and rightly, called “here today and gone tomorrow politicians”, it has become all too easy to tell when someone in Government is trying to deflect from perceived problems, and that is when they propose something which has obviously been dreamed up to give an “exclusive” to newspapers which matches their editors’ and proprietors’ prejudices.
So it was when Communities Secretary Sajid Javid gave an “exclusive” to the Murdoch Sunday Times, in which, as the BBC has reported, “Civil servants and other holders of public office should swear an oath to British values … Mr Javid said people could not play a ‘positive role’ in public life unless they accepted basic values … These included democracy, equality and freedom of speech”. And who might this affect?
“Mr Javid's proposals would mean every new recruit in the public sector, including councillors, school governors and civil servants would be expected to commit to the oath, which may have to be read out loud before starting the role … This could extend to those working in the NHS and the BBC”. But not the Murdoch press, of course.
So how would that help? “Mr Javid recalled how, aged about eight, he went to see a GP with his mother to act as her interpreter … He said while today she is completely fluent in English, a minority of immigrants have failed to make such an ‘effort’”. Ri-i-i-i-ght.
One hates to quibble with a former Managing Director of Deutsche Bank, but this is total crap. Exactly how would public office holders swearing an oath make someone seeking advice from their GP fluent in English? Why would the swearing of an oath help with learning English? Sajid Javid seems unaware that his own example shows that the problem he is describing is not addressed by his suggested solution.
What other excuses does he have to justify this steaming bovine bowel movement? How about “tolerating the views of others even if you disagree with them … believing in freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from abuse … a belief in equality, democracy and the democratic process [and] respect for the law, even if you think the law is an ass”?
No, I’m still not convinced. Anyone already in public office, including the NHS and BBC, is already well aware of such details. How else would they be holding down a job there? Moreover, Javid seems to have missed out two practical details from his hare-brained scheme, one of which is that the press he is trying to convince of his idea is all too ready to jump on the intrusive and nannying of the state - which is what he is proposing.
The other is that British values includes the tendency to take the piss out of jumped-up busybodies from the authorities sticking their bugle into peoples’ lives because they’ve got nothing better to do. This looks for all the world like an excuse to divert the press away from the Government’s ineptitude on the railways, the postal service, the prison system, Brexit, poverty and homelessness, and a whole lot more.
Plus the Kippers are making positive noises about it, which suggests the idea is dead on arrival. This idea will solve nothing, it won’t help anyone become more integrated into wider society, and it won’t make anyone more British. Take it and shove it, Sajid.
John McTernan tweeted "No one has to take this oath"
Various people pointed out that nobody has to, because it doesn't exist. I asked whether he knew the "plan" and knew it would be optional (and therefore even more pointless).
He replied, imperiously, "only a fascist state would introduce such an oath, and we aren't one".
So that's all right then.
“tolerating the views of others even if you disagree with them … believing in freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from abuse … a belief in equality, democracy and the democratic process [and] respect for the law, even if you think the law is an ass”?
Shame the papers won't sign up to that. Their entire workforce would be in the dole queue quicker than you can say Leveson Inquiry.
This not being able to speak english without need of an interpreter, it could become a bit of a moot point. Take the Sun readers of (for instance) south Yorkshire and get them to try it. It may not end well....
And who exactly would define what British values are? Him? HMQ? Newspaper editors who would be exempt? A phone poll?
a belief in equality, democracy and the democratic process [and] respect for the law, even if you think the law is an ass
There is one obvious politician who would fail if such an oath were to be put in place... Theresa May.
After being fairly anonymous as Home Secretary in the early days, her first misstep was the cat flap.
The illegal immigrant who cannot be deported because – and I am not making this up – he had a pet cat.
In this case, the judge catalogued the mistakes the Home Office had made in attempting to deport this person, making a joke at the end about the cat. Theresa May, rather than accepting the fuck-up of her own department, wanted to get rid of the law that prevented her from getting her own way.
Then there was her mini performance for the Remain campaign:
The ECHR can bind the hands of Parliament ... makes us less secure by preventing the deportation of dangerous foreign nationals ... it isn’t the EU we should leave but the ECHR and the jurisdiction of its Court.
Hurray for Theresa May, standing up for the rights of our ancient institutions, and protecting our safety! But hold on... Parliament does not deport foreign nationals, dangerous or otherwise. That's a job for the government, specifically the home office, of which May was the responsible Secretary of State. So the ECHR does not "bind the hands of Parliament", but rather those of Theresa May. And because of this occasional limit on her power, she wants to abrogate the treaty.
And about Brexit itself?
we are not leaving only to return to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.
"We" means the government here. The ECJ only rules on matters of EU law. Decisions against the UK therefore mean that the UK government has not been implementing EU regulations properly (a matter for another debate). Again, May is concerned that a judge can limit her personal power. Her solution is to abrogate the treaty, so the court no longer has jurisdiction.
Finally, we get onto the recent High Court decision that parliament has the final say on Article 50, not the government. Putting the outrage of the Daily Mail etc to one side, her immediate reaction was to appeal one of the clearest judgements imaginable. Of course, she could have put a one-line law through parliament the next week, but she just can't accept legal judgements when they go against her.
In summary, Theresa May's record shows that she does not accept legal restrictions on (her) executive power, and is prepared to change laws and treaties in order to remove these restrictions.
You left out her part in the deportations of overseas students.
'Disaster for Theresa May as legal ruling brings student deportations to a halt' By Ian Dunt. Wednesday, 23 March 2016 11:37 AM
A few months later, Theresa May became Prime Minister. Some disaster eh?
Maybe our new Home Secretary for Scapegoating wishes to curtail the number of overseas student visas because her predecessor fears the return of deportees seeking legal redress?
At my age I tend to look back at my life and the twenty five years in the RN twenty of which was in the submarine service. I followed that with sixteen in the FCO mostly in Africa seeing things in places like Rwanda that would turn anyones stomaches plus several bouts of malaria. On retiring I do voluntary work and became a local councillor. 40 odd years of service to my country so can anyone understand why when some jumped up Tory minister says people like me in the future should swear an oath to do the jobs I did and think, what a crock of shit that is just playing to the gallery!
The ECHR might bind the hands of our government on some things but it doesn't stop us deporting dangerous foreign nationals at all. That was one of Gove's referendum campaign lies, too.
I wonder if Mr Javid ever read the Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade episode in 'Catch 22?'
"Almost overnight the Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade was in full flower, and Captain Black was enraptured to discover himself spearheading it. He had really hit on something. All the enlisted men and officers on combat duty had to sign a loyalty oath to get their map cases from the intelligence tent, a second loyalty oath to receive their flak suits and parachutes from the parachute tent, a third loyalty oath for Lieutenant Balkington, the motor vehicle officer, to be allowed to ride from the squadron to the airfield in one of the trucks. Every time they turned around there was another loyalty oath to be signed. They signed a loyalty oath to get their pay from the finance officer, to obtain their PX supplies, to have their hair cut by the Italian barbers. To Captain Black, every officer who supported his Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade was a competitor, and he planned and plotted twenty-four hours a day to keep one step ahead. He would stand second to none in his devotion to country. When other officers had followed his urging and introduced loyalty oaths of their own, he went them one better by making every son of a bitch who came to his intelligence tent sign two loyalty oaths, then three, then four; then he introduced the pledge of allegiance, and after that “The Star-Spangled Banner,” one chorus, two choruses, three choruses, four choruses. Each time Captain Black forged ahead of his competitors, he swung upon them scornfully for their failure to follow his example. Each time they followed his example, he retreated with concern and racked his brain for some new stratagem that would enable him to turn upon them scornfully again."
That'll be the "democratic values" which include an unelected head of state, an unelected second chamber of government and a government not voted for by the majority of the registered electorate.
Maybe Javed could read up on the history of loony Joe McCarthy and the US loyalty oath proposed as far back as the Yank Civil War - one of the reasons that rogue nation is as institutionally paranoid as it is.
Then again, what to expect from a Deutsche Bank bureaucrat. That'll be the same Deutsche Bank that ruined millions of lives in Greece and Spain - and anywhere else it can stick its corrupt fingers.
All of which means Javed wouldn't know a value if it stood up and cheered in his face. The fellow is morally insensible. I'm-Alright-Jackery incarnate.
Thanks for that link. I'd heard about the case, but hadn't really followed it. It's absolutely horrifying how the Home Office proceeded in this case. Unbelievable was the comment after the case:
"The investigation into the abuse of English language testing in 2014 revealed extremely serious, large scale, organised fraud."
Except of course that it didn't. And even when it is explained to them in simple, direct language, they still won't accept that they fucked up.
This country's going to hell in a handcart etc.
The Government say the strikers show contempt for the British public. All I would say is that they have had a fine example set by our Government.
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