Occasional reflections on Life, the World, and Mathematics


… or something. Having commented before on the xenophobia that pervades the British political establishment — with politicians of all parties falling all over themselves to profit from public anti-immigrant sentiment — I am hardly surprised by home secretary Theresa May preening herself with the macho boast that her government will intensify the “hostile environment” for foreigners — sorry, she boasts that she will initiate the not-yet-existing hostile environment, and only for “illegal migrants”. One of the most striking provisions of the soon-to-be-law is a requirement that landlords check the immigration status of prospective tenants. This leads me to wonder, again, how exactly a British citizen can prove to a prospective landlord that he or she is British, now that the government has abolished Labour’s identity-card program as being too intrusive and really the antechamber to tyranny. Of course, many people have passports, but many don’t, and they are, of course, generally the poorer and more vulnerable citizens. Passports cost £72.50.

I asked a British colleague how he would prove his citizenship if he didn’t have a passport. He said he has a birth certificate, apparently unaware that the UK abolished birthright citizenship 30 years ago. Anyone born after 1983 would need not only his own birth certificate, but that of one of his parents.

Of course, I am being somewhat disingenuous here. We all know that the real British will demonstrate their citizenship by having the right skin colour and the right accent. That’s what this is really about.

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