Wednesday, March 12, 2008

When is feeling for one's country genuine and valuable? How does it relate to happiness?

I'm afraid Bristol's Deputy Lord Mayor, Councillor Peter Abraham shows he is very seriously out of touch with both young people and the evidence by saying that getting children to swear allegiance to Crown and country could help combat unhappiness amongst them ('Children should swear allegiance', Bristol Evening Post, 12 May 2008). Yes there is clear evidence that children in our country are more unhappy than those in many other countries as the unicef table of childhood wellbeing demonstrates (see previous post here). The causes of this unhappiness seem to be many, varied and complex however and according to what children themselves say, relate to wide-ranging issues like climate change, terrorism, violence, poverty, traffic and gangs. The links to allegiance to Crown and country are tenuous at best and in any case unhappiness has roots that originate long before age 16 or 17, when Cllr Abraham wants allegiance sworn. So, does he know what he is talking about here??

There's also the issue of willingness to swear allegiance. What if people dont want to swear allegiance to the Crown because they are republicans?? Do people proposing this idea intend it to be compulsory? Those willing to swear allegiance are 'loyal' anyway, whilst those who are not willing but who are required to swear cannot be regarded as 'loyal' simply because they have said a few words or signed a piece of paper. And if those not willing to swear allegiance are given the choice to opt out should our society regard them as lesser citizens?? What is the value of feeling for one's country if its not one that has developed freely and naturally??

Strong view expressed on this issue in the comments following this newsblog. More on the issue here.


  1. Swear allegiance? I'd sooner swear at the queen.

  2. This councillor hasn't got a clue, but he's hardly alone on this, is he? The Labour Party is at the bottom of all this;

    "Plans to make schoolchildren take part in citizenship ceremonies and a new public holiday to celebrate "Britishness", established by 2012, were announced today as part of wide-ranging proposals to strengthen British citizenship.

    Lord Goldsmith, the former attorney general [New Labour, don't mention the war party] released the results of his five-month review into citizenship in the UK this morning..."

    Labour, Tory, same old story ...

    I totally agree with you about how rotten things are for children now, but I would add 'modern' life and family breakdown to your list of dire problems young people have to face.

    Many in the older generations have been living it up completely selfishly, consuming resources, degrading the environment, and leaving little for future generations. I wouldn't blame young people for being very angry when they realise just how badly they've been ripped off.

    I'm certainly not counting on a pension or a peaceful old age retirement!


Genuine, open, reasonable debate is most welcome. Comments that meet this test will always be published.