I am in equal parts baffled and irritated by this business about public servants swearing an oath to British values, not least because nobody seems to be able to say what they are. Are they the values that most people hold or the ones that people in the Westminster bubble think that most people hold, or that they think most people should hold? I happen to think that one outstanding British value is that we don’t go around making people swear oaths left, right and centre.The one most quoted is tolerance and yet the whole atmosphere of the country at the moment feels very intolerant. Another one quoted is belief in ‘democracy and the democratic process’, but the proposal suggests that anybody elected to public office must swear this oath, which sort of excludes people from the democratic process if they disagree with any of these things, which is not very democratic. Come to that, if you only allowed tolerant people to stand for election or be elected then the democratic process would not be truly represententative of a country where the Daily Mail has such a large circulation.
I suppose that is a bit like the swearing of allegiance to the Crown which, among other things, prevents the Sinn Fein MPs taking up their seats in Parliament, and fortunately that hasn’t been mentioned in this context. Yet.
As somebody on Twitter pointed out today, if swearing an oath makes you a better public servant then we wouldn’t have had six MPs sent to jail since 2010.
The other problem is one of diversity, and I am not talking about the obvious things like religion and race. Even when the country was almost entirely white and still Christian, there were all manner of different opinions, attitudes and behaviours. I really don’t like this attempt to force conformity on us.
It is clumsy and impractical stunt policy and I’m sure Mr Javid should be worrying about the more pressing issues we have.