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more britishness March 11, 2008

Posted by Bradley in : Uncategorized , trackback

Lord Goldsmith published his report on citizenship today. He suggests that Britain needs a national day by 2012, and wants to make permanent residents in Britain acquire citizenship:

Permanent residents are people who have lived in the UK for a long period of time and shown an intention to settle here. They pay taxes; and often contribute to society in a range of other ways as well. Hence it is fair that they should have access to certain rights and entitlements.
..However, given that they have made a commitment to the UK and that they are entitled to certain rights and entitlements in return, it is important to consider whether they ought to be citizens. Citizenship is the closest form of political and social connection between people who live together in a society and it should not be commonplace for people to live in a society for a very long time without becoming a part of that society and taking on their social responsibilities as citizens.
..Hence I propose that government should give consideration to moving towards a system of rules whereby people who have come to the UK either have limited leave to be here or they have to apply to become citizens. Our system for allowing people to access citizenship should be rigorous but it should also make a clear distinction between people who are temporary residents and people who are here permanently — and hence people who ought to share in a common sense of belonging, with the rights and responsibilities that go along with that.
..What I am proposing in effect is a move towards abolishing the status of permanent resident and making a clear distinction between non-citizens and citizens. This includes providing people who are committed to settling in the UK — and have the right to do so — with a compelling route to citizenship.

He also writes:

The rules for gaining citizenship should be rigorous but there is no advantage to having people, who have lived in society for over a decade, deciding not to become a part of it in the fullest sense by seeking citizenship.

I’m one of these problematic people in another place, but I don’t really understand why it is such a problem. People can be productive and useful members of a society without being citizens. And decisions about where to live may be complex and not have simple answers.


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