So you think you’re a Brit?
We boast about our 350 years here. But would JC readers pass the Government’s citizenship test?
Foreigners wishing to become British citizens now have to pass a multiplechoice test about this nation’s history and institutions. The new edition of the Government’s Life In The UK handbook — the study guide for the British Citizenship test — was released at the beginning of the year. The test covers subjects ranging from the workings of the European Union to the Scottish Assembly and the Civil Service. As well as learning English, those wanting to apply for naturalisation need to know the history of immigration in this country and how laws are made. In short, they are tested on things that many Brits are a little hazy on.
Jews, of course, have just spent 12 months celebrating how well-integrated this community has become in Britain in the 350 years since re-admission. But are we sufficiently up on our Britishkeit to be considered true citizens of the UK?
Using a practice test from the book, we put four good sports from this community to the test, to see how well we have integrated. To pass, they needed to answer correctly 18 out of the 24 questions. So were the Jewish ex-serviceman, the mum-of-two, the student and the London Israeli knowledgeable citizens?
Leonard Stern is a 72-year-old veteran who served in the Royal Air Force between 1952 and 1954. The semi-retired Ajex member grew up in the East End of London and now lives in Southgate.
He says before he starts: “I have lived here a long time and I think I know how the Government is run. I’m not so certain about the more recent changes in Europe and the regions.”
The result: Pass
Leonard scored an impressive 20 out of 24. He showed a sound knowledge of how government is run, but he was stumped on a question about how local authorities are funded. He also thought the cabinet meets daily rather than weekly. In a valiant attempt to give an answer relevant to the present day, he said Boxing Day celebrated the appreciation of gifts received on Christmas Day, instead of the appreciation of staff or trades people. Bad luck.
His reaction: “I’m pleased. I think I’ve done pretty well,” said Leonard. “But I don’t know if the broader population could answer all these questions. Some are quite hard.”
Jane Conley, 40, a financial director and the mother of Georgia, three, and Jamie, two, grew up in Manchester but now lives in North London. She reads The Times and watches the news to keep her current-affairs knowledge up to date.
She says: “I don’t really know how I’ll do.”
The result: Pass
Jane also scored a very impressive 20 out of 24. But she was also stumped on the local-authority-funding question. Jane wrongly thought that the population of England is 58.8m when in fact it is 49.1 million — she did not realise the question did not include Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. Her other mistakes involved questions about the role of the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly.
Her reaction: “I feel fine, but there were some tricky questions. Some were easy, like the ones about sporting events, but others were difficult — particularly the ones on Europe. And some of the political questions were quite hard too. I would have thought you would have to do a little revision before taking the test. You wouldn’t necessarily know all this stuff just by reading the newspaper.”
The A-level student
Chantal Segall studies Spanish, English literature, biology and psychology at Immanuel College, Bushey. She is also on the executive of AJ6, the Association of Jewish Sixthformers. At 16, Chantal would be too young to take the test in real life — you need to be at least 18. Chantal has not studied politics or citizenship at school, but she says she does watch the news sometimes and read the newspaper occasionally.
She says: “I don’t think I will do amazingly well, but I won’t do too terribly.”
The result: Pass (just)
Chantal scraped through with 18 out of 24. She wrongly thought that non-departmental bodies are a direct part of the Civil Service. She was not clear on the role of the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly or how it is decided which party forms the Government.
Chantal thought the population of England is just 38.1 million, which lost her a point, and, like Leonard, she wrongly assumed that the population has grown faster than the average European growth since 1951. But she was the only one who knew that the Cabinet does not meet daily. She she also knew about the role of the European Union’s Council of Ministers — even if it was an educated guess, having spent time on the school council.
Her reaction: “I feel good. I think it’s quite difficult. Questions on the Football Association and that kind of thing are not so difficult. But I guess that’s a relative thing. It’s cultural.”
RAF veteran Leonard Stern
Jane Conley, a mother-of-two
Student Chantal Segall
London Israeli Simon Posner