The Government is considering introducing a new form of oath of loyalty for certain kinds of public servants. They do not seem to have considered the risks this involves. I hope they have not. I would not like to live in a country where the authorities did not care about the risks.
How will they decide who has the right loyalty?
People will be required to swear to their commitment to a specific list of British values. I am not aware of who compiled this list or how. I do know that many people whom I regard as good citizens would produce different lists and even more would differ as to the interpretation of certain words.
Do you share their views on equalities?
Under some interpretations of “equalities”, I would be unable to take such an oath, as would many Christians and members of other faiths. Many good people could be excluded from public service needlessly.
Do your view matter?
Having worked in local government, I have always understood that public servants acted impartially regardless of their own political or religious views. Thus I would never treat anyone adversely because they were in a same-sex marriage. I would, however, object to promoting that arrangement, as I would have objected to promoting Brexit or Scottish independence. I believe the same was true for all my colleagues.
What about the really bad guys (and girls)?
The other risk lies in the probable ineffectiveness of the measure. Spies, terrorists, criminals and self-seekers with no loyalty but to themselves will doubtless swear to anything in order to get where they want to be.
The Risk of an Own Goal to Last for Generations
Overall, the risk is that the Oath of Loyalty will fail to detect the people we would all want to bar from public service but would exclude honest people with reservations about certain points of interpretation, whose loyalty to this country is as good as anyone’s. Think about the kind of country we will be creating.