Thursday, February 26, 2009

British births for British citizens

In an argument between Sunder Katwala, of the Fabian Society, and Paul Dacre, of the Daily Mail, I can generally expect to find myself much nearer Sunder’s side. So it is with this case.

Sunder’s written an open letter to Dacre:

I was disappointed to read reported in today’s Daily Mail that the newspaper regards it as a mistake to consider that the children or grandchildren of immigrants are British, but rather would classify us as “second or third generation immigrants”.

I hope that your proposed reclassification of Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince Harry as not British, as second and third generation immigrants descended from the foreign-born Phillip, will not distress them too much.
But it does seem most ungrateful, when Winston Churchill was voted ‘greatest Briton’, to now strip him of that status because he had an American mother. …
Perhaps you could let us know who the Daily Mail thinks is truly British. I can see you probably think it is too late for my children - as “third generation immigrants”, currently aged under 3 - but perhaps there might be a tip or two they could pass on to their descendants.

Nice, but I think Dacre a fairly obvious comeback: that if you have one British parent you get to count yourself as British. Thus Winston and the princes are in the clear. Phew! Dacre could probably be really classy about it and work the word ‘interbreeding’ in there.

The answer, which I have no doubt Sunder would actually agree with, is ‘British births for British citizens’ (not necessarily as the only way of becoming British, but certainly as one infallible means).

But that hardly makes for a really witty blog post.

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