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  • Citizenship tests come into force

    by Nush
    31st October, 2005 at 12:45 pm    

    Immigration Minister Tony McNulty is publicising sample questions ahead of the test coming into force on Tuesday.

    People seeking to become British will take the test at one of 90 centres across the country, before taking part in a formal citizenship ceremony. The “Life in the UK” test is the last of a series of changes to how people become British brought in by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett.

    The Home Office says that it wanted to create a new more meaningful way of becoming a citizenship in an effort to help people integrate and share in British values and traditions. Prospective new citizens already need to demonstrate sufficient working knowledge of English to help them get on.

    Take the test here [more recent link] and see how you get on.

    I got a score of 9 out of 15 and apparently that means I should get a seat on the district council, rather than wait for my deportation orders!

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    Filed in: Culture,Current affairs,Party politics

    26 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs

    1. Nush — on 31st October, 2005 at 4:25 pm  

      Whoops sorry about that folks! hopefully you should be able to reply now!

    2. Sunny — on 31st October, 2005 at 4:35 pm  

      Not a bad idea I think, though its more massaging a symptom than dealing with the root cause of alienation. But anyway, I support english language tests.

    3. Nush — on 31st October, 2005 at 4:38 pm  

      I think you have to do this test on the link to see the kind of questions that are being asked.

      being born here i have to say some of them i was pretty clueless.

      i got my office to do it and the highest was 12/15 and the lowest 6/15!

    4. Geezer — on 31st October, 2005 at 4:39 pm  

      How on earth immigrants will pass tests like that whilst natives struggle with some of those questions I do not know.

    5. Don — on 31st October, 2005 at 4:43 pm  

      That wasn’t the test. That was some questions a journalist made up from the book.

    6. Vikrant — on 31st October, 2005 at 4:43 pm  

      Whoa… i go 13/15… i’m not even a citizen, I just have a PR.

    7. Rohin — on 31st October, 2005 at 4:44 pm  

      Oh I definitely support English language tests. Although I fear that most British Asians in possession of a mobile phone and hair gel would fail miserably and be deported to east Africa or the Pind.

      Professionals like doctors need to pass linguistic tests, so should all people hoping to live here. One thing that doesn’t get said much is that being an immigrant is damn hard. Adjusting to a new country isn’t easy and not the money-grabbing easy option it’s made out to be. But if you don’t speak the language - wow I can’t even imagine what would happen if I tried to move to somewhere like China or Algeria etc.

      Thus - being able to speak English makes it easier for the immigrant and also better for us. If a person can speak English, they’re more likely to mix with other people outside their community and more likely to register for a bank account and so forth.

    8. Nush — on 31st October, 2005 at 4:57 pm  

      ok well i doubt that the actual questions would be published but this is prob representative enough of the content

      i think its important that people who come to this country can grasp spoken and written english for communication and contribution in general

    9. coruja — on 31st October, 2005 at 5:07 pm  

      Yes, this is all very well, but if I pass the test will I be able to change my colour?!
      Because at the end of the day regardless of the fact I am ‘educated’, speak English, pay taxes and &etc &etc, the offensive/ignorant comments &actions I have to deal with are triggered by my colour and the assumptions made thereafter.

      When is the government going to introduce a good citizenship test for the current residents of the UK (not just for recent immigrants) to teach them British values of tolerance, fair play &etc (by the way, are they so exclusively British?) ?

      The problem is not, for the most part, with the immigrant, the problem is that for most people in Britain a non-English person is not a legitimate human being. But this is hardly surprising, only about 50 odd years ago we were sub-human and had to be told what to do. You can’t change attitudes like that in a few generations.

      So I’d be willing to take the test, if it guarantees that I wont be followed around in shops, asked questions about my religion & arranged marriages, and won’t get my head kicked in purely because I’m dark, not because of my obnoxious behaviour!

    10. Vikrant — on 31st October, 2005 at 5:15 pm  


      we choose to come to this place in the first place. lets not generalise things by branding average native britons as racists.

    11. no way — on 31st October, 2005 at 6:26 pm  

      what a load of bollocks,

      I guess then since their are 30,000 english natives currently working in Sudan, I think a test on the Cush empire along with understaning of the Arabic language is a must then?

      okay okay

      I understand what they are trying to achieve, but they are doing it the wrong way, answering questions will not make you integrate.

      integration, integartion, integration, why do the British get scared when a group of people who share a culture want to chill together?

      oh yeah terrorist, terrorist, terrorist……..last time I read about the backgrounds of the terrorists…..oh they integrated alright among the British……..


    12. ContraryMary — on 31st October, 2005 at 7:53 pm  

      10! phew. maybe they’ll put the score on ID cards…

      on the radio this morning (5 Live), the general line was that immigrants have more of an understanding of what makes up Britishness than native brits. (queueing ranked quite highly apparently)

      to try and define britishness, in black and white terms (excuse the pun), and then set a written test around it is ridiculous.

      it would be an interesting exercise to get indiginous Brits to do the test too and see how they fare. maybe they could also have lessons in Britishness if their scores are too low.

    13. Sunny — on 31st October, 2005 at 8:11 pm  

      Actually I’m not fussed about how this affects “multi-culturalism” and that silly debate.

      My point here is that by taking these tests, learning about England, and learning up English - the benefit lies more to the immigrant.

      Firstly they will feel more like they are part of the country (America as example), and secondly they will have a better understanding of how to participate in society. I want them to vote, use the NHS and all the rest of it if they are paying their taxes.

      Women specially are vunerable because if they don’t know how a country works, they are dependent on the man and thus can be taken advantage of or abused without anyone finding out.

      So yeah, long live English tests.

    14. The Don — on 31st October, 2005 at 9:57 pm  

      Actually, the questions seem quite sensible; can you be fired for joining a union? how do you call emergency services? that sort of thing.

    15. Mokum — on 31st October, 2005 at 10:17 pm  

      Hi Sunny, as an American immigrant to Britain allow me to suggest that the American way of citizenship will not work in Britain. The whole American-style Blunkett pitch has been ridiculed, all over, and always will be if they stick with it. How do you codify ridicule?

      I do agree on language classes in return for a passport. Ridicule comes first in language classes, and that’s where the values and customs come out too.

      A test? Phooey.

    16. Sunny — on 31st October, 2005 at 10:32 pm  

      When they ridicule such notions, on what basis do they do that on? I have always felt that Britain lets in its immigrants like a dirty secret it does not want to admit to. Whereas America lets them in with some loud noise and a feeling that the new country is their home. Here, people don’t feel the new country is or can be their home, and therefore the alienation.

      I believe the psychological aspects play a part along with the economic and social.

      And as Don said, some questions are just sensible to ask and learn.

    17. Mokum — on 31st October, 2005 at 10:55 pm  

      I think you’re right. Inglan is a bitch. But Blunkettism is not the solution. Britain has so many dirty secrets of its own that immigrants should have a good laugh at it all, just like the best of the natives.

      Blogs will sort the rest.

    18. Mokum — on 1st November, 2005 at 1:49 am  

      I should emphasise, if it isn’t obvious already, [no matter how much I like snarky Britain (PBUH)], that Rosa Parks is my kind of American and I have company.

    19. Arif — on 1st November, 2005 at 11:52 pm  

      Almost anything can be justified by putting it into different context. That’s what part of what makes spindoctoring an unkillable profession. The other part is the fact that we fall for it because our brains aren’t made for objectivity. At least that’s the spin I put on things…..

      And the context which makes this seem like a good idea to some of you (ease of communication and pride for immigrants) is different from the context which make it seem silly or degrading to others (proving yourself in ways that other citizens don’t have to or see any point in themselves).

      In itself, maybe this isn’t a big deal, but I think it’s sad that we make this a world full of tests and exclusions. There can always be more justifications for testing, grading, branding and excluding people. We can create such a complex society that we even claim people need to be processed for their own benefit. We can be so desperate or unimaginative that we are even grateful for the opportunity to learn how to conform. Something within me protests that this just isn’t what life should be about.

      If there is no conceivable alternative to testing people for citizenship, it makes me even more sad that we are on a treadmill with no escape.

    20. Sunny — on 2nd November, 2005 at 12:14 am  

      Arif, I see you rpoint, but I’m looking at it this way. There was an appeal by an Asian womens group, I think Southall Black Sisters, who said that older Asian women were more likely to tolerate abuse because they didn’t know what rights or avenues or escape (recourse) they had.
      To my mind, english is about the only thing should be compulsory, if only to help the women learn more about this society.

    21. The Don — on 2nd November, 2005 at 1:48 am  


      I completely agree that ‘it’s sad that we make this a world full of tests and exclusions.’ and I think that ‘We can create such a complex society that we even claim people need to be processed for their own benefit’ is so true it makes my skin crawl.

      But , my understanding is that if you ‘fail’ to show that you have a basic understanding of how things work here, you are obliged to atttend a language and a culural educaton course; you don’t get rejected.

      I would hope that such a course would explain that nobody has the right to treat you like shit; that there are unions and support networks, that domestic violence is not acceptable, that lawyers are available, how debt works, that your neighbours are probably decent enough people. Just an introduction.

      And who is likely to be running these courses?

      Probably decent, well-informed, committed, low-paid people doing the best they can.

      I hope.

    22. Geezer — on 2nd November, 2005 at 4:04 am  

      Im in favour of testing immmigrants. English tests, health, IQ and so on. (Many 3rd world countries find that they are loosing a majority of all of their graduates, so in all conscience we couldnt take anyone from those places). Then perhaps a year of voluntary service (failure to do so = deportation). Next a probationary period of two or three years - any law breaking leading to instant deportation - after serving a full sentence (no remission) of course. Finally an oath of loyalty to the Queen (failure to do so = deportation). Thats it, you’re in. All this bollocks abiut claiming benefit can be sorted out whenever, it shouldnt be part of any test. Anyone who really wants to come here would be happy to do this. Oh and obviously no Muslims need apply in the first place thanks very much.

    23. Edward — on 3rd November, 2005 at 4:24 pm  

      Personally, I think these tests are all cock. I remember browsing one some time ago that was highly subjective, and seemed more intent on ensuring that those taking it were able to fit in with the examiner’s (at times highly minority) views.

      It all smacks to me of Tebbit’s Cricket Team Test. And let’s face it - if he emigrated to Australia, would he start supporting their team? No. One rule for them etc.

      In my opinion, what matters is if the individual has a need and/or valid contribution for being here. Not whether they know what two numbers to dial for an ambulance. Which won’t turn up when they call for it. Unless the LHA has recruited more drivers. Who have probably been drawn from the immigrant population. Without whom the NHS would grind to a halt. As will happen when immigrants don’t know what two numbers to call for an ambulance.

      I despair sometimes.

    24. Geezer — on 4th November, 2005 at 2:24 am  

      Edward - Tebbit hasnt emigrated to Australia so your example is irrelevant.

      And anyway Australia is family, their cricket loyalties when living in Britain and ours when living there dont matter. End of.

    25. Sunny — on 4th November, 2005 at 2:57 am  

      Australia is family,

      So who else is in this family then?

    26. Edward — on 4th November, 2005 at 3:25 pm  


      What? I said “if” Tebbit emigrated to Australia. It was a rhetorical question, designed to highlight what I strongly suspect is a double standard.

      As for Australia being “family”, on what basis? Australians who move here are still migrants, are they not? Or does the fact that they come from a Commonwealth country exclude them from that status?

      In which case, I look forward to silly tests being made non-compulsory for all other Commonwealth residents.

      Or is it just that there is one rule for white people, and another rule for non-whites?

      I should very much like to know the answer.

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