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October 11, 2011
Immigrants must pass test on British history, says David Cameron
This might be an interesting discussion theme especially with reference to your first assignment for the Introduction to Politics module
The article (link below) discusses David Cameron’s idea to give greater emphasis to British history in the so-called and already existent “Citizenship Test”. Candidates (or immigrants) must pass this test to become Britons.
The Telegraph article writes that the greater role given to British history in the test “basically means [that] future candidates will be tested on the Roman Conquest, Boadicea, the Norman Conquest, Magna Carta and King John, the Wars of Roses, Elizabeth 1, English Civil War, the Battle of Britain, Churchill and how we ‘encouraged a national spirit of resistance in [the] UK’ in World War Two” (emphasis added).
It is perhaps interesting to note that the preferred historian of the Conservative Party is (Harvard-based) Niall Ferguson who in 2010 was announced to overhaul history in schools for the conservative government. Some argue that Ferguson’s work is an apology for Western (and perhaps especially British) imperialism. It is yet unclear however if Ferguson will be personally involved in the drafting of the history test itself.
How will such a test impact the construction of British history? Will the emphasis on a specific interpretation of history lead to greater chauvinism? And if so, is this a good or a bad thing? What are the potential consequences for other interpretations of British history and what would this mean (if anything) for the recognition of other other histories and/ or cultures?