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National derision

The Goldsmith review was widely mocked, but a modern idea of citizenship is no laughing matter

By David Goodhart   April 2008

The hoots of derision that greeted Lord Goldsmith’s citizenship review in early March revealed a continuing reluctance on the part of much of the British political class to think straight about national citizenship. Most of the media coverage got stuck on a single footnote in the review—the idea of a school-leaver oath of allegiance to the Queen (or to British society)—thereby providing an opportunity for leading figures on both left and right to disdain the modest reforms to the language and institutions of citizenship that this government is proposing.

Opposition from the left was to be expected. Since the 1960s,…

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