What are British institutions anyway?

The BBC joined the debate on British citizenship this week by commissioning a MORI poll, comparing the views of a sample of the Muslim community, with the general population.

I won’t go too deeply into the results because there’s a good commentary on the UK Polling Report blog as well as the BBC’s own.

However, there was one thing I thought was interesting.

93 per cent of people generally and 91 per cent of Muslims though British citizens should accept the authority of British institutions. 73 per cent of people, including 76 per cent of Muslims, thought citizens should pledge their primary loyalty to Britain. 51 per cent of people, including 50 per cent of Muslims, thought citizens should swear allegiance for the Crown.

While there is a (bare) majority in support of an oath of allegiance, support is much lower than for the other two propositions. Much of the British public do not identify the legitimacy of British institutions with allegiance to the Crown.

If that is the case, then one of the arguments that has been used to defend the parliamentary oath does not stand up. The oath of allegiance cannot be said to be a proxy for loyalty to democratic institutions.


By the way, it would be wrong of me to depart this subject without noting this comment by Linda Bellos in another BBC commentary piece:

The implication that multicultural issues only concerned ethnic minorities was also wrong, she added.

"We have millions of people of Irish heritage in Britain who are actually rather proud of their Irish heritage, they could and should be part of the debate but it has become polarised as a black and white issue and that’s part of the problem," Ms Bellos said. (BBC News)

Amen to that.






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