Migrants face test on Thatcher, Churchill and Monty Python

Jan 27, 2013

Coalition revises 'politically correct' citizenship handbook - and cuts Tony Blair's entry to one paragraph

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IMMIGRANTS who want to become UK citizens will now need to swot up on Monty Python, Chris Hoy and Margaret Thatcher the economic reformer, as the coalition reveals its revision of the citizenship manual originally devised by Labour.

The Sunday Times reports that the new publication, intended to prepare aspirant Britons for their citizenship exams, junks the "political correctness" of the previous, 2007, version in favour of Union Jacks, Spitfires and Morcambe and Wise.

Margaret Thatcher is now celebrated as the first female PM and an "economic reformer" where the 2007 book warned that some saw her as a "divisive figure". Tony Blair's entry has been reduced to just one paragraph.

Labour has condemned the year-long handbook revision as a waste of time, saying ministers would have been better occupied securing borders and cutting queues at immigration counters in airports.

The biggest change is that the new version ditches previously lengthy sections of advice for immigrants on the rights they could expect to enjoy in the UK, on benefits they might be entitled to receive - and even on what to do if arrested.

Instilling knowledge of the history and culture of the UK, the coalition version focuses instead on "the events and people who have contributed to making Britain great".

It advises new arrivals that "Britain is a fantastic place to live: a modern thriving society with a long and illustrious history." It invokes the wartime spirit of Winston Churchill, Nelson's historic victories and the esoteric comedy of Monty Python.

Immigration minister Mark Harper said: "The new book rightly focuses on values and principles at the heart of being British. Instead of telling people how to claim benefits, it encourages participation in British life."

As well as re-writing the 180-page handbook, the coalition has produced a new version of the citizenship test. Multiple-choice questions now demand students learn whose memorial stands in Trafalgar Square (Nelson's), who is the patron saint of Scotland (St Andrew) and how many years the Queen had spent on the throne by 2012 (60).

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