Competition - Win vouchers to spend at any Tesco store

Competition No 3719

Set by Peter Reeve on 18 February

With reference to the Home Secretary's new citizenship tests, we asked for some sample questions.

Report by Ms de Meaner

Lots of trick questions (The capital of Great Britain is: a) Das Kapital, b) the Kop, c) Wembley - from Will Bellenger), questions you'd only know the answers to if you'd lived here for years (With whom did Maxine betray Ashley? a) Curly Watts, b) Jack Duckworth, c) Roy Cropper, d) "Crusher" Ferguson, e) Matt the medic, f) David Platt, g) Gail Platt, h) a goat - from Basil Ransome-Davies), and questions no one would be able to answer (From your knowledge of first-century British history, assess in no fewer than 3,000 words the historical accuracy of Shakespeare's portrayal of Cymbeline, drawing on contemporary chronicles and Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae - from David Silverman). Ah, but you're a cynical lot. Hon menshes to the above, £20 to the winners, and £5 tokens to R Ewing and J Seery. The overall winner is David Barton, who also gets the Tesco vouchers.

1. Would you be prepared to work in a hotel kitchen for less than the minimum wage?

2. Would you be prepared, purely as a temporary measure, to drive a motor vehicle without insurance cover or a driving licence?

3. Do you have sufficient manual skill to make a rifle?

4. Have you ever made a rifle?

5. Do you enjoy firework displays?

6. Have you ever made your own firework?

7. Which is your favourite songbird?

8. How do you like it cooked?

9. Do you support fox-hunting?

10. Are you an animal lover?

11. Did you own a dog back home and, if so, did it sleep on your bed or in a kennel?

12. What do the letters lbw stand for?

13. Have you had experience of either nursing or mail delivery?

14. Have you ever been to Mecca?

David Barton

(All questions must be answered)

1. Write an essay on the British monarchy since the Glorious Revolution of 1688, with reference either to the development of constitutional law or to the way in which media representations have tended to legitimate or challenge the role of the royal family.

2. Discuss how two of the following fictional texts construct Englishness as a transcendent matrix of social identity: Pride and Prejudice, David Copperfield, The Forsyte Saga, Coming Up For Air, Look Back in Anger, Fever Pitch.

3. Arrange in order of precedence: a Baronet, the second son of a Duke, the Archbishop of York, the Master of the Rolls, the Home Secretary, a Marchioness, Black Rod, the Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire. Explain the reasons for your choice.

4. Analyse in detail the conditions under which an appeal for lbw may or may not be accepted by a competent and unprejudiced umpire.

5. According to Bagehot, "of all nations in the world the English are perhaps the least a nation of pure philosophers". Giving examples, compare and contrast the native tradition of English empiricism with either German idealist philosophy or French existentialism.

G M Davis

1. On polling day, how many times does the average UK citizen vote?

2. (a) Would British citizenship give you many rights?

(b) Are you serious?

3. In the event of a period of two years compulsory military service being introduced for both sexes, would you wish your present application to stand?

4. What would be your reaction if your application were to be approved but only in respect of domicile in the Falkland Islands?

5. (a) Was Britain your first choice?

(b) Are you willing to take a lie-detector test?

6. In your opinion, who was the greatest Prime Minister of Great Britain?

NB: In answer to countless pleas, you may nominate the present holder of the office. Those so doing will receive (completely free of charge) a portrait of Mr Blair with a multimillionaire of your choice.

7. (a) How many times have you sung the National Anthem?

(b) Why?

8. In the event of failing this test, what funds could you produce to cover the fairly expensive appeal procedure?

Michael Birt

1. What variety of fish would you feed to the Lord Privy Seal?

2. Explain why, if God is an Englishman, He did not make the English Channel deeper, wider and full of man-eating sharks.

J Seery

. . . And finally, to help us with our decision, please indicate how much money you are willing to give to the Labour Party: a) Less than £5,000, b) £5,000-£35,000, c) More than £35,000. (If "c", please disregard this citizenship test and go straight to 10 Downing Street.)

R Ewing

No 3722 Set by George Cowley

Ziauddin Sardar wrote in the NS: "We are in the middle of an identity crisis . . . Most of us do not know who or what we really are." Could we have an interview between a prominent person and a psychoanalyst attempting to sort out who or what he/she is.

To be in by 21 March (to appear in our issue dated 1 April)


Photo: Getty Images
Show Hide image

What's to be done about racial inequality?

David Cameron's words on equal opportunities are to be welcomed - now for some action, says Sunder Katwala.

David Cameron made the strongest, clearest and most high profile statement about ethnic inequalities and the need to tackle discrimination ever yet offered by a British Prime Minister in his leader’s speech to the Conservative Party conference in Manchester.
“Picture this. You’ve graduated with a good degree. You send out your CV far and wide. But you get rejection after rejection. What’s wrong? It’s not the qualifications or the previous experience. It’s just two words at the top: first name, surname. Do you know that in our country today: even if they have exactly the same qualifications, people with white-sounding names are nearly twice as likely to get call backs for jobs than people with ethnic-sounding names? … That, in 21st century Britain, is disgraceful. We can talk all we want about opportunity, but it’s meaningless unless people are really judged equally”, said Cameron.
While the proof of the pudding will be in the eating, this was a powerfully argued Prime Ministerial intervention – and a particularly well-timed one, for three reasons.

Firstly, the Prime Minister was able to root his case in an all-but-universally accepted appeal for equal opportunities. It will always prove more difficult in practice to put political energy and resources behind efforts to remedy discrimination against a minority of the population unless a convincing fairness case is made that values cherished across our whole society are at stake. Cameron’s argument, that any party which tells itself that it is the party of the ‘fair chance’ and ‘the equal shot’ must have a response when there is such clear evidence of discrimination, should prove persuasive to a Conservative Party that has not seen race inequalities as its natural territory. Cameron argued that the same principles should animate responses to discrimination when it comes to race, gender and social class. Put like that, wanting job interviews to be fair – by eradicating conscious and unconscious patterns of bias wherever possible – would strike most Britons as offering as clear a case of the values of fair play as wanting the best baker to win the Great British Bake-Off on television.
Secondly, Cameron’s intervention comes at a potential "tipping point" moment for fair opportunities across ethnic groups. Traditionally, ethnic discrimination has been discussed primarily through the lens of its impact on the most marginalised. Certainly, persistent gaps in the criminal justice system, mental health provision and unemployment rates remain stark for some minority groups. What has been less noticed is the emergence of a much more complex pattern of opportunity and disadvantage – not least as a consequence of significant ethnic minority progress.

Most strikingly of all, in educational outcomes, historic attainment gaps between ethnic minorities and their white British peers have disappeared over the last decade. In the aggregate, ethnic minorities get better GCSE results on average. Ethnic minority Britons are more likely, not less likely, to be university graduates than their fellow citizens. 

As a result of that progress, Cameron’s intervention comes at a moment of significant potential – but significant risk too. Britain’s ethnic minorities are the youngest and fastest-growing sections of British society. If that educational progress translates into economic success, it will make a significant contribution to the "Great British Take-Off" that the Prime Minister envisions. But if that does not happen, with educational convergence combined with current ‘ethnic penalties’ in employment and income persisting, then that potential could well curdle into frustration that the British promise of equal opportunities is not being kept.  Cameron also mirrored his own language in committing himself to both a ‘fight against extremism’ and a ‘fight against discrimination’: while those are distinct challenges and causes, actively pursuing both tracks simultaneously has the potential, at least, depolarise some debates about responses to extremism  - and so to help deepen the broad social coalitions we need for a more cohesive society too.

Thirdly, Cameron’s challenge could mark an important deepening in the political competition between the major parties on race issues. Many have been struck by the increase in political attention on the centre-right to race issues over the last five to ten years. The focus has been on the politics of representation. By increasing the number of non-white Conservative MPs from two to seventeen since 2005, Cameron has sent a powerful signal that Labour’s traditional claim to be ‘the party of ethnic minorities’ would now be contested. Cameron was again able to celebrate in Manchester several ways in which his Cabinet and Parliamentary benches demonstrate many successful journeys of migrant and minority integration in British society. That might perhaps help to ease the fears, about integration being impossible in an era of higher immigration, which the Home Secretary had articulated the previous day.

So symbolism can matter. But facial diversity is not enough. The politics of ethnic minority opportunity needs to be about more than visits to gurdwaras, diversity nights at the party conference fringes and unveiling statues of Mahatma Gandhi in Parliament Square. Jeremy Corbyn’s first speech as Labour leader did include one brief celebratory reference to Britain’s ethnic diversity – “as I travelled the country during the leadership campaign it was wonderful to see the diversity of all the people in our country” – and to Labour bringing in more black, Asian and ethnic minority members - but it did not include any substantial content on discrimination. Tim Farron acknowledged during his leadership campaign that the Liberal Democrats have struggled to get to the starting-line on race and diversity at all. The opposition parties too will no doubt now be challenged to match not just the Prime Minister’s rhetorical commitment to challenging inequalities but also to propose how it could be done in practice.

Non-white Britons expect substance, not just symbolism from all of the parties on race inequalites.  Survation’s large survey of ethnic minority voters for British Future showed the Conservatives winning more ethnic minority support than ever before – but just 29 per cent of non-white respondents were confident that the Conservatives are committed to treating people of every ethnic background equally, while 54 per cent said this of Labour. Respondents were twice as likely to say that the Conservatives needto do more to reach out – and the Prime Minister would seem to be committed to showing that he has got that message.  Moreover, there is evidence that ethnic inclusion could be important in broadening a party’s appeal to other younger, urban and more liberal white voters too – which is why it made sense for this issue to form part of a broader attempt by David Cameron to colonise the broad centre of British politics in his Manchester speech.

But the case for caution is that there has been limited policy attention to ethnic inequalities under the last two governments. Restaurateur Iqbal Wahhab decided to give up his role chairing an ethnic minority taskforce for successive governments, unconvinced there was a political commitment to do much more than convene a talking shop. Lib Dem equalities minister Lynne Featherstone did push the CV discrimination issue – but many Conservatives were sceptical. Cameron’s new commitment may face similar challenges from those whose instinct is to worry that more attention to discrimination or bias in the jobs market will mean more red tape for business.

Labour had a separate race inequalities manifesto in 2015, outside of its main election manifesto, while the Conservative manifesto did not contain significant commitments to racial inequality. The mid-campaign launch in Croydon of a series of race equality pledges showed an increasing awareness of the growing importance of ethnic minority votes - though the fact that they all involved aiming for increases of 20 per cent by 2020 gave them a slightly back-of-the-envelope feel. 

Prime Ministerial commitments have an important agenda-setting function. A generation ago the Stephen Lawrence case opened the eyes of middle England to racist violence and police failures, particularly through the Daily Mail’s persistent challenging of those injustices. A Conservative Prime Minister’s words could similarly make a big difference in the mainstreaming of the issue of inequalities of opportunity. What action should follow words? Between now and next year’s party conference season, that must will now be the test for this Conservative government – and for their political opponents too. 

Sunder Katwala is director of British Future and former general secretary of the Fabian Society.