Good British values

The government has announced recently it wants schools to teach good British values not only to pupils who are immigrants to the country but also to ensure those born here are aware of traditional British qualities and values. But what actually will we be teaching?

Democracy: As the Mother of Parliaments we can, of course, teach our children that we are therefore better than everyone else.

Free debate: Related to our Democracy, this is where we teach school children that in this ancient land we value the freedom of speech and debate over all things. Except when half the population tell the governmen they don’t approve of their actions such as the invasion of another country or a young woman attempts to read out the names of casualties as a protest in Whitehall and is arrested. Or if you speak you mind on a blog and get fired, come to that.

Freedom of movement: Another essential of our Great British Democracy, the right to come and go at will, unimpeded. And those biometric passports, biometric ID cards and the ability to track locations of individuals using cell phone signals and satellites ensures that the government makes sure we continue to enjoy this right, as long as we’re not going anywhere they don’t want us to and know where we are at all times.

Tolerance: A fundamental quality of the fair-minded British is that we are scrupulous in our tolerance of those different from us. As long as they learn to be exactly like us through classes such as those in British values. See also how to homogenise the multi-cultural society and the long-lived tradition of making fun of foreign people.

And let us not forget those other fine traditions of British life we can teach youngsters: how to be incredibly loud and obnoxious abroad, how to work terribly long hours and ruin our family lives, our ability to show how tough we are by drinking more than anyone else, our fine tradition of early heart attacks and our ability to worry about immigrants from places like India and Pakistan coming here and undermining our ‘Britishness’ and how we debate it as we enjoy a good curry and a pint of Kingfisher. Any other fine British suggestions we can teach our kids, folks?

Although in some fairness, here are a few British values which I don’t take the mickey out of: the fact we give a huge amount to international charities every year, the fact millions of us are prepared to march and protest that which we find abhorrent, the fact that we have produced some astonishing writers, artists, film-makers, poets, dancers, musicians and a long list of Nobel Prize winners, the fact that we created some of the engineering and scientific principles and devices that are the basis of our world today and are still doing so (for examples, the British-led team who pretty much saved the Human Genome Project from becoming a privatised money-making machine for one greedy American company) and let’s not forget the British ability simply not to give in even in the face of overwhelming odds and terror, without which we would all be speaking German and abusing Poles. And our delightfully weird sense of humour which gave birth to the Goon Show and Monty Python. Oh and we love animals.

Come to think of it, I think I just illustrated one of the most British of qualities – an ambigious feeling to these islands where I find so much to be unfair and hypocritical and yet there is also an enormous amount to be proud of. How very British.