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Reminder

I'm back home from visiting relatives, but I'm off to Montreal tomorrow for the world science fiction convention. If you're going, you can find my (public) schedule here. I'll update it as/when I have any updates to make.

As I'm spending today filling a suitcase and tomorrow filling an Airbus passenger seat, and presumably spending Wednesday recovering and Thursday through Monday running around like a blue-arsed fly, I may not be posting here much.

Today's bone of contention: on immigration and naturalization. The Labour government passed some legislation over the past couple of years, overhauling the UK's immigration system. Along other things, they switched to a points based system for assessing immigrants (hint: don't bother applying if you don't have a university degree and speak English — positive discrimination for the middle classes: not so good if you dropped out and founded a dot-com startup and became a millionaire, rather than graduating with a 2.2 and working as a cubicle drone). They've also brought in a bizarre "citizenship test" — an exam you're supposed to be able to pass before they'll permit you to beg for a passport.

Received wisdom among the Daily Mail set is that this is right and good and defends our precious bodily fluids the sanctity of our national identity. In practice, however ...

How many points do you score on the practice test?

(Hint: I'm a lazy good-for-nothing foreigner who's just asking to be deported. And I've lived here all my life. Second hint: some of the "correct" answers to the questions are factually incorrect, and reflect official thinking rather than actual reality.)

This is bullshit of the finest grade, little more than a test of rote memory (there's a guide book: buy, read, and memorize) rather than anything of actual relevance to daily life in the UK. But it's what the bureaucracy has produced — and now they're planning to add a patriotism test! Patriotism to be proven by participation in civil groupthink activities approved of by the immigration service and their management. (And immigrants who participate in activities that they think are un-British run the risk of being penalized.)

If you can come up with some words to express my disgust, please let me know; I'm about out of them.

PS: If you think I'm straining at gnats, try this for size: "Thousanda of the worst families in England are to be put in "sin bins" in a bid to change their bad behaviour, Ed Balls announced yesterday. The Children's Secretary set out £400million plans to put 20,000 problem families under 24-hour CCTV super-vision in their own homes. They will be monitored to ensure that children attend school, go to bed on time and eat proper meals." (Yes, I know it's the Ghastly Excess reporting this, not The Economist. Nevertheless. More there, if you can stomach it.) Who needs Big Brother when you've got New Labour to tuck you in bed beneath the watchful cameras? The immigration laws are just the canary in the coal mine ...

131 Comments

1:

I don't think the points system applies to anyone other than highly-skilled migrants yet. So if you are already have indefinite leave to remain (permanent residency) then it does not apply to you, yet.

The current citizenship test is a loosely obfuscated test on the English language; no sane brit actually knows any of the answers. The sad thing is that it does achieve its purpose in screening out people who can't speak some English - when I sat it, there were people who had not completed it in the hour allowed, and remember it's a multiple choice test that you can complete and get 100% in literally 2 mins. I had finished it before they had logged everyone in, but had to wait the full hour before they would print the certificate...

I guess the lesson is that if you want citizenship, and don't have it yet, sooner rather than later would be a good time to apply...

2:

You've been doing a lot of metablogging lately, Charles.

Metablogging, or "blogging about blogging" is talking how you haven't been posting lately, or won't be posting much, or various other related snoozers, and is pretty boring.

It's 2009. I've got a RSS reader, and see new posts when they're posted. People who keep up with a blog by visiting it every so often should be shot, and their body burned to keep from their cluelessness spreading.

3:

bbot: just for you, I'm tempted to turn off RSS. (I don't believe it's a good thing, and I abhor Twitter, for much the same reason. Call it the campaign for slow browsing, if you will.)

4:

charlie@3: are you willing to not turn it off for others?

just checking.

I love my console-based rss-aggregator (newsbeuter).

5:

I've seen this oh-so-charming test before when it first went online. It's a sick joke applying some arbitrary ideas as to what constitutes 'Life in the UK' made worse by making it multiple guess.

Doing it, you feel like Apu doing his citizenship test in The Simpsons. "What was the cause of the civil war?" "Well, it was the product of a complex set of cir..." "Say slavery" "Slavery". The depressing thing about great comedy - we can debate whether The Simpsons is still great somewhere else - is that it can never hope to parallel the true absurdities of reality.

Many have said it but Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister were clearly documentaries not comedies. Although I do wonder if our beloved leaders do it deliberately - by descending into self-parody maybe they hope to make it impossible for us to take the piss out of them?

6:

Argh! don't kill RSS, it's the only way I use the net anymore; far more efficient to have things pushed at you than having to remember to trawl sites x, y, and z. Think of it as a bit of cognitive enhancement akin to an early version of Manfred Macx's glasses...

I'd probably go into withdrawal if all my RSS feeds stopped!

7:

It can't be said often enough; 1984 was a WARNING, not a model to strive for.

And bbot, you're a twit. Charlie's metablogging is, in itself, an information channel for those of us wanting to know what he's up to. If we see a lot of "sorry, I'm traveling" posts, we know he's not writing. If we see a lot of "sorry, I'm writing" posts, we can correlate that with his previous comments about what he's writing on, and then come up with elaborate theories of out-of-contract-sequence inspirations and what not.

8:

Wow. I took the practice test for the UK citizenship test and it is truly bizarre. I'm taking the US citizenship test this week, so I've been studying that, and I have to say that the difference in subject matter between the two is striking.

The US test may be as much to do with rote memorization as the UK one, but at least the questions are concerned with US history and government, for the most part. What possible relevance does remembering the exact percentage of self-identified Muslims in the UK, or the number of under-19 year olds, or the TWO places you can find certain government leaflets, have to do with becoming a citizen?

It's as if they tasked some poor civil service sod with hacking together a test and he just randomly picked a few statistics that his department had published that week.

9:

58% - failed, but not bad for a US citizen I hope.

My favorite was:
Question 17 of 24
Which TWO of the following can vote in all UK public elections?
[ ] Citizens of Irish Republic resident in UK
[ ] Citizens of EU states resident in UK
[ ] Citizens of the Commonwealth resident in UK
[ ] Anyone resident in UK

which I read as: "Which two of the following would not overlap on a Venn diagram"?

10:

YFYI: The test is a copy of the new German practice, see "Einbürgerungstest".

11:

Is anybody else starting to think that the nationhood and citizenship models Neal Stephenson discussed in "Diamond Age" and "Snow Crash" are beginning to look more attractive in light of news like this?

12:

Haar: no, "Snow Crash" was a dystopia, and as for "Diamond Age" ....

13:

15 out of 24, which I think is not bad for an American Idjit. Things which struck me:

Questions where I had to make an estimate with less than 10% error. I could come up with a reasonable back-of-the-envelope guess for the number of minors in the UK, but no one can guess between 13 million and 14 million. That's pure memorization.

Am I right that a Parliamentary Constituency is the district which elects a member of Parliament? My thought process was "The US has 438 Representatives, but the UK probably has smaller districts, since they're older, so call it 500-odd." 646, for a much smaller country, is nuts.

Nice to know that I can get a job without proof of ID; can't do that here.

Lots of questions about government services; very little about popular culture or history. And two questions about the number of muslims/asian immigrants, what's up with that?

14:

I'd argue that the socio-political environment of "Snow Crash" isn't more than marginally removed from where we are now. Maybe it would be better to say that the first steps toward the nationhood/citizenship model you outline for old Earth in the Eschaton novels would be attractive.

15:

I find it very reasuring that as a Brit, I failed the test by a massive margin. I managed the questions which actually relate British life, like traffic speeds, even if they're not really relevent to ...

Actually, none of those questions was relevent to anything at all! How much time, money and pain has been and will be wasted on this mess?

16:

I failed miserably at the test, but an interesting item was the use of the term "quango", which last I checked was an officially deprecated term (in favour of "non-departmental public bodies" or NDPB)

17:

Every time I read something like this it reminds me why I still haven't moved "back home". I would truly love to but it appears the home I remember just doesn't exist anymore.

18:

I failed: Questions answered correctly: 11 out of 24 (46%)

But since I'm in the US, I guess that's some reassurance. It was interesting that the questions seemed to focus on current-events minutiae more than the US test, which tends toward vastly oversimplified questions about history and civics that most 9 year-olds know but most everyone else has forgotten...

19:

Holy crap... I only got 12 out of 24. And some of those were pure guesses (2.7%, yay!). Maybe it's a good thing I left the UK 8 years since I know so little about it! On the other hand I passed the US practice test just by watching the DVD of the musical "1776" :-) Perhaps I'll become a US citizen in 3 years time!

20:

"The children of England will never be slaves..."

But apparently they will agree to live in a CCTV monitored, data base surveillance, national ID system, granny state.

21:

andyet@20: indeed, that is why you will never, for example, see a British blogger complaining about such things, and organisations such as the Open Rights Group do not really exist because no-one is annoyed at all by these things enough to oppose them.

22:

I failed with 13 out of 24 (54%), doing a lot of guessing. (Most of this stuff never shows up on PBS or the US version of The Economist.)

23:

I suppose I can see elements of dystopia in _Snow Crash_, though I would argue whether it's a full-blown representative of the genre, but what's wrong with TDA:OAYLIP?

24:

I failed miserably too, which is a bit disturbing as I was born in the UK and have survived for more than 50 years in ignorance.

And some of the 'correct' answers are bizarre. Who, faced with a problem at work, would go to ACAS rather than a local MP as the last resort?

25:

I know this is a bit off topic, but I know you like beer too. While you're in Montreal, you should see if you can stop by and take a brewery tour at my favorite brewery, Unibroue. I was in Quebec City a few months ago, and I just didn't get the chance to drive down there and take a look at the brewery.

I've never had a beer from Unibroue that I didn't enjoy.

26:

Another American here ending up with around 50% with no preparation. It is a silly test, and Davids and tomw pointed out exactly the things that I thought were silliest. Why on Earth would a Brit need to know how many Muslims there were in the UK, or how many under-18s there were?

bbot: Well, I do that because first of all a number of sites I like with regularly updated content do not have RSS feeds, so I have to visit them anyways; second, because I only follow half-a-dozen or so blogs, so it is not much problem doing so manually; and third because all the RSS readers I've used had display or use issues that either overwhelmed me with information or made it annoyingly difficult to use. I fail to see why I ought to go to the trouble of finding and installing an RSS reader which works properly when I would have rather little use for it anyways.

27:

Oh, and I also appreciate the RSS feed and the metablogging.

28:

Riotnrrd @23: a de-facto caste system, a permanent lumpenproletariat, the status of women rewound to the 19th century -- what's not wrong with "The Diamond Age" as a vision of the future?

29:

Charlie, re:28, I was originally referring (and I think Riotnrrd was with me) more to the nature of voluntary subscription "nations", referenced in "Diamond Age" and "Snow Crash", and your own Eschaton novels, being more attractive than our traditional, geographically based, system of classical nation-states.

30:

Ah, how comforting it is to be weighed by the all-knowing, all-seeing perceptions of the Brown government. However, there are clearly areas of UK life which the questionaire fails to address. Aspiring citizens should be given the chance to answer queries based on the true salient aspects of British life, like - a)Cable, b)Sky, or c)Freeview? a)Tescos, b)Asda, or c)Sainsburys? Applicants could also be quizzed on how they would respond to adverts for loans, banks who like to say Yezzzz, and shiny cars.

And as for the round-the-clock supervision of problem families, the solution is blindingly obvious - sterilisation, of course! Preventing the germination of tomorrows crims today...

(Oh, and I got 13/24, a spiffing total for a natchrul-born Britisher!)

31:

I still have to keep reminding myself that your's was the land of the Magna Carta.

My own is coming up behind you.

32:

Crap I just failed (67%)! Does this mean they won't let me back into the country? I've only been away 4 years and I've forgotten my cultural identity.

Though question 16 (when is census data available) is wrong as both answers are true. And since when did any UK citizen care about the number of school days in a year.

33:

The test also discriminates against (people using only) free software, since it is all Flash, and there is no version of Flash for my browser/OS. And Gnash doesn't work on that page.

34:

Stross: "positive discrimination for the middle classes: not so good if you dropped out and founded a dot-com startup and became a millionaire, rather than graduating with a 2.2 and working as a cubicle drone"

The article Stross linked to:
"All applicants will have to pass an English test - unless they have £1m or more to invest."

Stross: "This is bullshit of the finest grade, little more than a test of rote memory (there's a guide book: buy, read, and memorize) rather than anything of actual relevance to daily life in the UK. "

Maybe there could be a better way to do this. But does your country need people who are too stupid or too disinterested to study from a book to pass an easy test? Especially when your country offers a cradle-to-grave welfare state, courtesy of the taxpayer? Think of it as the equivalent of organic chemistry courses for med school admissions - not actually clinically useful, but it weeds out the morons.

The test is stupid and probably not the best of all possible ways to select immigrants, but it's better than "come one, come all."

What do YOU propose as an alternative?

35:

scarily I passed (75%) I suppose listening to radio 4 helps with the educated guesses which just goes to show.

Guy's. how's the border control at Waverley station shaping up? (for when i get bored of the british library)

36:

Well, I scored 88% and passed (and I'm surprised that I did that well - it seems that my guess at the fraction of the UK population that claims to be Muslim was about right.) but it's completely pointless.

Yes, of course I would learn the answers from the book if I was going to take the test for real, but many answers have absolutely no significance.

It doesn't matter whether women got the right to sue for divorce in 1850 or 1870 - just that they've had it for a while, and have it now. It doesn't matter whether there are 1, 2, 3 or 4% Muslims in the country, or whether there are 15 or 16 million young'uns.

You'd hope that they'd at least ask questions where the answer actually mattered.

37:

c23 @34
Not really sure you intended it, but you make it sound like the UK is or should be some kind of country club.

Enough of the world is already difficult to enter unless you're Indian and hold an advanced degree in computer science. Do we really need to put gates up around all the first-world nations?

38:

Apropos @34: we've got a big problem in this country: not enough chefs willing to work in Indian take-aways. Seems the second generation want to go to university instead, rather than work long hours in the kitchen. So the restaurant trade has been importing non-English literate Bengali and Punjabi cooks ... until the Immigration Service unintentionally yanked the brake handle; there's no exam for excellence in methi gosht preparation, it seems.

As ben @37 puts it: do we need to put up gates? Personally, I think that free trade and free movement of capital is an obscenity unless it's accompanied by free movement of labour -- otherwise it's just a license for the owners of the capital in question to squeeze labour costs down to the lowest bidder.

39:

>cradle-to-grave welfare state, courtesy of the taxpayer

c23 have you ever actually been on benefits? It's hardly a joyful lifestyle. I'm on it right now courtesy of a nice boss who sacked me in the middle of a recession to save his own arse. £65 a week barely covers food, let alone bills, clothes, or any of the other 'luxuries' of life.

Walk a mile in another man's shoes.

40:

I passed the actual "Life in the UK" test last October; took me three minutes (kind of the software to tell you your time, though not your score). The test linked to was rather more difficult; I failed with a measly 63%. I've yet to figure out any genuine positive use for that test.

41:

If you have free trade and free movement of capital but restricted movement of labour then in order to take advantage of low labour costs you have to invest in the areas with the low labour costs. If you also restrict the movement of goods and capital then the poorer people don't have the resources or access to markets to become richer. Multi-national investors in developing countries routinely pay far more than the typical local wage and have higher workplace standards, they aren't paying as little as they can.

42:

Hmm, only 50% for me and I am a 50-yo Brit who's travelled about a bit, did a politics, philosophy and history combined studies degree at Manchester University and read papers like The Times and The Guardian and pay some attention to some of what is going on in the world.

Some of the nitpicky detailed questions, such as the number of schooldays (I don't have kids) or the date women could divorce are just daft - if you want to know that stuff, you can look it up. I'd think few people just know that stuff.

I can, as it happens, name the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo astronauts and apply them to their correct mission order off the top of my head. Should I become an American? I get lost around Skylab, though I know the commanders (Conrad, Bean, Carr). I can also name the first 10 Russian cosmonauts off the top of my head, usually.

43:

Looks like I'm not fit to live in the UK either. The passport costs too much anyway (and speed limits, wtf, it's not a driving test).

Charlie, you wanted some more words? Well, this appears to be very similar to the Howard government's Australian citizenship test. I believe I once described Howard as a "racist, war-mongering, self-serving, miserable little ideologue excuse for a human being". Feel free to apply that wherever it fits...

44:

Oh dear, I failed. I've obviously been living in the USA for too long now (11 months) that I've forgotten all those ridiculous statistics from the census.

45:

I failed but with 14 out of 24 right, 58% - not too bad considering I've never been to the UK. A lot of it is just what I would consider general information (Church of England, EU structure, etc.)

46:

My wife sat this test recently to gain her ILR, or Indefinite Leave to Remain. She studied for a month for it, got very nervous and upset about the whole thing, and finished it in 4 minutes with 100%, even after checking every answer five times. It's a stupid, racist hoop designed solely to put another hurdle in front of non-English speakers.

47:

Under the previous Australian government we got a citizenship test too, equally laughable:

www.citizenship.gov.au/test/practice/practice_test.htm

I heard that they've taken the cricket question out of the new real test (our current PM isn't as much of a cricket tragic as the previous one), I can only hope that's true!

48:

Yup, i failed also - 13/24 (54%). I am and always have been a uk citizen so yeah i agree that it is an absurd, factually wrong test that has no relevance to life here but panders to those who genuinely believe we're shoulder deep in immigrants.

49:

The silliness of the test aside, there has to be some form of immigration control - the U.K. is already seriously overpopulated, with 60 million and climbing, crammed into a small island. You can't just keep squeezing people in indefinitely if you want to keep a society liveable and sustainable.

50:

Suzy@49: According to the most recent Migration Statistics Quarterly Report from the Office of National Statistics, immigration is static, but emigration is rising, and showed a particularly steep rise towards the end of last year. The immigration statistics include British citizens returning to the UK after an extended period living abroad. There are still about 100,000 more people coming to the UK than leaving, but 75,000 of them are returning UK citizens.

There is, of course, an extremely simple way of cutting the UK population by about 5 million...

51:

@50: Quite a lot of those emigrating British citizens are heading for Australia - and we have our own problems (like an endless drought, and running out of water)... When climate change starts getting really bad, later in this century, I think a lot of still-livable countries will get even harsher about immigration for their own self-preservation.

52:

13: 15 out of 24, which I think is not bad for an American Idjit.

15 out of 24 also. Not bad for an Ignorant Australian.

That said we introduced these nonsensical multiple choice questionnaires for citizenship in the dying days of the Howard government; they still haven't been repealed. [Memories of coaching a Safrican couple on the significance of 99.94]

53:

I was 14/24, too, not bad for mostly guessing. I got 4/5 in the Australian version. Now I want to find a USA practice test, to see if it has questions on baseball statistics or census statistics.

Charlie, has anyone from the government yet suggested that they can defray government costs by selling the rights to the camera footage of their weird "problem families" penitentiary experiment to entertainment networks? (How do they determine the "problem families"? How will they force people to go to bed and eat?)

I should probably be glad I failed the test; my family might qualify to be part of the panopticon home prison experiment. ;P

54:

I got a 63% on the practice test, which I also expect isn't bad for a silly yank taking it cold. The questions do seem to be pretty useless overall IMO.

55:

I regularly get 100% on multiple choice tests without preparation. I got 58% on this. As other posters have indicated, what a load of crap. Why would anyone other than a statistician know or care the number of children in Britain to within 500,000? Who cares about the exact year that women got the right to divorce their husbands?

I guess you could say that this is really a disguised literacy test - but surely any immigration lawyer would have access to a prepared cheat-sheet with a listing of the "right" answers.

56:

Haar @29 and Charlie @28: The social issues Charlie refers to are particular to the Vickies, but the whole point of that society was that women could get out and go join a FDR commune, the Shining Path, or become Drummers. There are plenty of strong women in that book, even among the neo-Victorians. YT from _Snow Crash_ is not exactly a wallflower, but she is a pillar of neo-Victorian society in TDA.

Or did I miss something?

57:

the whole point of that society was that women could get out and go join a FDR commune, the Shining Path, or become Drummers.

Because a woman raised neo-Victorian will always understand that she has a choice, and will have money and skills to make a new start in a different culture. And won't mind breaking with her family and friends at all.

(HINT: this is a problem in the real world, too. Read some feminists.)

58:

Sam at 56 forgive me if i misunderstod you but i go the impression you were being sarcastic,

whilst i got the impression that this is indeed the case or at least was supposed to be the case withthe neo victorians (they are after all neo) (the book was designed to enhance this as lord whaterver his name was was concerned that their education system wasnt working properly) especialy the sadistic schoolmistress bit which was speciicaly designed to (rather than being random sadism) develope the way the children would be able to work together as free adults (not to repress them).

59:

It's a practice test.

It doesn't use questions from the real test.

It's a .co.uk domain

And it's pushing training aids.

Seems a bit dodgy to me, but if the questions do represent the real test, there's something seriously broken in the design of the test.

60:

R Loyd @58, I may have got lost in the brackets, but I think that was my point. The YLIP was created specifically because of concerns that people *raised* as Vickies, as opposed to those who came to that society as adults, would accept the society uncritically. Fiona's mother would be an example of a woman that would make the feminists mad, as per Sam @56. YT and Lord Finkle-McGraw would be counter-examples of people who came to the society from outside and see it in all its aspects. Also remember that we only really see a handful of the societies in the world of TDA. For instance I would be really curious about those African businessmen who Bud mugs, with fatal consequences.

The contrast between those raised within a system and converts to that system can also show up in the case of religion, though plenty of those converts can become even more fanatical than those who have had time to become blasé about the whole thing.

61:

Brett Dunbar @ 41: "Multi-national investors in developing countries routinely pay far more than the typical local wage and have higher workplace standards, they aren't paying as little as they can."

This type of happy outcome is likely only within a rather limited range of circumstances:
(a) the multinational is establishing a local branch or subsidiary which is operating explicitly under the company's own, already well-established name, with attendant high public visibility [1], and/or
(b) a large fraction of the local jobs are relatively highly skilled, especially by local standards. [2]

The less these conditions apply, the more likely that local wages paid will be at only a modest premium (if any) to prevailing local rates. And, if the local entity is merely a locally owned contract producer, not a direct part of the multinational's corporate structure, the multinational's direct influence on local wage rates accordingly shrinks to somewhere between minimal and zero. (See: any of several hundred thousand consumer goods factories in the People's Republic of China, during the last decade or so; also assorted Central American textile factories.)

[1] Which commonly correlates with a majority/entirety [3] of the local entity being directly owned by the foreign parent firm, as distinct from a minority investment in a more loosely-related affiliate, which is majority-owned and -directed by local interests.
[2] E.g., petroleum and other energy resources projects, mining, telecommunications, and other capital-intensive ventures. Competent engineers (and operating engineers) don't come particularly cheap, even when formal academic qualifications are not used as a primary employment screening tool.
[3] Up to the extent permitted by local law. (Even when majority direct foreign ownership is prohibited, there's usually a way for any sufficiently motivated multinational to maintain effective control through local nominees/sock puppets.)

62:

17/24, fail, and I've lived here all my life. I suspect the average Daily Fail reader would do somewhat worse (for instance, they're likely to get the first question wrong).

There were a very small number of questions which actually tested information which is important for people wanting to live in this country. For instance, the speed-limit question.

63:

Except that in china wages have been going up and up (depending on where you start)because of labour shortages because of more and more firms entering the market (slowed down now of course but not as much as you would think) see:

http://www.dtcchina.um.dk/en/menu/InfoAboutChina/Marketopportunities/News/Generalnews/Archive2008/MinimumWageInShenzhenToOvertakeShanghaiAndGuangzhou.htm


Also ancedotaly i was hiring local staff in beijing and shanghai (highly qualified staff , but mainlanders not expats) and last year was having to pay Hong Kong level wages (ie 1st world UK/US levels) to get the right people.


3 years ago i was paying 1/3 to 1/2 the level in RMB for the same people (note we needed to raise our staff wages to keep them too)

64:

As ben @37 puts it: do we need to put up gates? Personally, I think that free trade and free movement of capital is an obscenity unless it's accompanied by free movement of labour

But surely the answer to this is limits on the free movement of capital and goods, not the abolition of immigration controls and nationalisation criteria? Surely you don't have to be a bigot to think that a come one, come all citizenship policy might create problems?

Logically, Charlie, you have to have one of the following:

Free movement of capital but not labour ("an obscenity")
Free movement of capital and labour (entirely open borders)
Free immigration, but not free nationalisation (which means a citizenship test of some sort; what form should it take?)
Limits on immigration and nationalisation (again, what form should the limits take?)

65:

@ 50 - How does that change the population density of the 'rump' if you remove the 5 million? Belgium in the late middle ages?

66:

Ouch, 11 out of 24 :( and yes I've lived here my whole life.
Do I get deported to australia now?
Please?

67:

ajay @63 "Surely you don't have to be a bigot to think that a come one, come all citizenship policy might create problems? "

The question is, problems for whom? From the immigrants' point of view, it's a big improvement. Why is alright for you or I to call foul if someone else wants the chance to work towards something we already have?

68:

ben @66: The reason existing residents want a say is the same reason it matters to the immigrants. If uncontrolled mass immigration occurs, not only do the pre-existing residents (natives and previous waves of immigrants) experience negative consequences on their own situations, but the new immigrants do not find what they were looking for either. For an example, see the banlieues of Paris and other major French cities, where society has more or less completely broken down, to the equal detriment of the original residents and of the new arrivals.

69:

RiotNrrd @67 That may be true, but the immigrants wouldn't still come if the situation they were moving into was worse than the one back home.

To Charlie's original point, Restricting only the movement of labor smells an awful lot like a convenient excuse for keeping the labor (Read: people) where it's already cheap (Read: serfdom).

It's a cheap way of keeping our Frankenstein's Monster of globalization from coming back and out-working us.

70:

ben @68: Speaking as a second-generation immigrant, the hope when leaving is to end up in the situation of what is perceived as the average person in e.g. France. Having left Somewherestan with the expectation of getting a job and owning the material comforts advertised by the media, and actually ending up sharing a small council flat with twenty other people in the exact same situation, all unemployed, tends to upset people - not unreasonably, I hasten to add.

However, since it's not possible to guarantee full employment for the current population plus an unknown amount of potential immigrants, some sort of system that attempts to match supply and demand by controlling both inputs does not seem unreasonable on the face of it.

Where it all falls down is in the details of individual implementations, of course. Despite having lived in the UK for most of my adult life, I failed the test Charlie linked to abysmally, and I second the various criticisms up-thread. However, one failed implementation does not negate the whole idea, IMHO.

71:

RiotNrrd @69
"actually ending up sharing a small council flat with twenty other people in the exact same situation, all unemployed, tends to upset people - not unreasonably, I hasten to add."

Fair enough, but would keeping your family out of france in the first place (however it was implemented, the desired effect would be the same) have been preferable?
That's a serious question, I'm not just making a point.

72:

ben @70: My family didn't actually immigrate to France, I just chose that example as probably the worst-case scenario result of uncontrolled immigration within Europe.

That said, any law privileging the individual over the group is not going to work for its intended purpose. For each individual person stuck in Somewherestan watching Western media, it would obviously be much better if they could be over here instead, enjoying our advantages. However, if every single one of those people did show up here, nobody would get those advantages. When designing or administering a system, it is necessary to ensure that the system itself will not collapse.

I'm very conflicted on this myself, btw, and if you ask again in a week's time I might give a completely different answer. At the moment, what I can say is that topics like this are what make me a minarchist rather than an anarchist, in that I recognize that there has to be some sort of system, and running that system is inevitably going to upset some people. I just try to hope that the overall result is better, on average, than it would have been otherwise.

Another facet is this: I think the citizens of country A are perfectly entitled to set up barriers, legal and otherwise, to prevent citizens of country B from making their way into country A. On the other hand, I don't blame citizens of country B for trying, and would probably do the same thing myself if I were in their position.

And so we come full circle: why is _Snow Crash_ deemed to be a dystopia? I mean sure, the Raft is pretty dystopian, and the fact of its existence tells us that the world is not made up of Burbclaves, plus I don't fancy freeway intersections closed by sporadic sniper fire, but a hypothetical society where so many, so distinct societies can exist cheek-by-jowl without eating each other has got to have something going for it, no?

73:

From the immigrants' point of view, it's a big improvement. Why is alright for you or I to call foul if someone else wants the chance to work towards something we already have?

Because the commons of the country (on which an immigrant would be drawing, and to which he would also potentially be contributing) are the collective property of its citizens, so they're perfectly entitled to regulate access to them. No one's arguing that a Ruritanian shouldn't be allowed to work towards a decent life for himself - as long as he does it in Ruritania. But he doesn't have any sort of natural right to do it in Britain, any more than he has a natural right to move into your spare bedroom, simply because it would improve his lifestyle.

If anything, the problem with the points system is that we will be carefully siphoning off the best and the brightest Ruritanians and bringing them to Britain, thus decreasing the chances that Ruritania itself will grow and develop into the sort of place that smart Ruritanians will want to live in rather than emigrate from.

74:

ajay @72

On your first point, that's fine, only it doesn't change anything. It's the line we've been taking since forever, unless your point of view is "I've got mine, you get yours."

Also, entitlement != morality. I may be entitled put barbed wire around the windows and doors of my spare bedroom, and put a sign out front that says "ABSOLUTELY NO IMMIGRANTS!" but it still makes me a jerk.

I think you're also conflating someone having access to opportunity with some kind of welfare. Giving a guy the opportunity to rent out my spare bedroom isn't the same thing as forcing me to allow him squat in it.

75:

Giving a guy the opportunity to rent out my spare bedroom isn't the same thing as forcing me to allow him squat in it.

Sorry, I was unclear: I was comparing completely open borders to the latter, not the former. Is it, then, your position that the UK should have a completely unrestricted immigration and citizenship policy? Passports handed out on request around the world? Every time someone suggests criteria for immigration or citizenship, there are a lot of posts like the one above decrying them, but no one ever seems to say out loud "Yes, we should let everyone who wants have a British passport and right of residence."

And I also have several problems with Charlie's position of "free movement of capital must involve free movement of labour". Labour just isn't as intrinsically mobile as capital. Money can move around the world in the blink of an eye. But, even without any legal barriers, people have homes. They speak different languages. They have children in schools. They can't just suddenly uproot and go to live in Indonesia and then shift to Australia six months later. Not to mention the local network effects - this is the sort of thing that Paul Krugman won a Nobel for writing about.
Short form: People are sticky; money glides. So limit capital rather than freeing labour.

76:

@74

Fair point. I'm not entirely certain that "come one, come all" is the most prudent solution, though I imagine that the most just solution lies much closer to that end of the spectrum of solutions than otherwise.

77:

RiotNrrd@67 "For an example, see the banlieues of Paris and other major French cities, where society has more or less completely broken down, to the equal detriment of the original residents and of the new arrivals."

That's funny, I live in the banlieue of Paris and, last I looked, society hasn't completely broken down yet.

Now, most of the UK strikes me as an uncivilized hell-hole these days.

78:

75: Which is, and please don't be offended by this, exactly the sort of non-response that normally appears in discussions like this.
If you don't actually support "come one, come all" then you are in favour of restrictions on immigration and nationalisation. What sort of restrictions should there be?
At present, there are limits by nationality, by wealth (the investment loophole mentioned in 34 above), by skill and by 'citizenship test'. Which of these do you think are unjust?
If they should be changed, should they be tightened or relaxed?
Should there be a citizenship test with different sorts of questions, or none at all?
Is the overall intent to raise levels of immigration and/or nationalisation, to lower them, or to keep them the same, or is that not a consideration?
By how much?
Should we give preference to the very poor, to those from very poor countries, to those from unpleasantly dictatorial or violent countries, to the skilled or what? How should we assess skills?

Simply saying that the current scheme disgusts you beyond words is frankly not good enough.

79:

Oh, by the way, I (a UK citizen) got 71% on the test, a fail.

If you want a real fun time try filling out the UK visa application form: Visa4UK. That is a true nightmare, and only available in English - yes, non-english speaking tourists are now unwelcome in the UK.

80:

@ 77

And I think "Solve immigration, you have 10 minutes." is a pretty poor test of a theory of justice.

And I didn't say I was or wasn't in favor of it. I was trying to say, perhaps poorly, that I'm still thinking it over.

81:

ajay@63

Why does "Free movement of capital and labour" have to mean "(entirely open borders)"?

What makes trade so much better to allow thru the gates than people who have skills. I think that you could implement a system whereby people could come into a nation to work and find jobs but not be a citizen. They would have special legal status clearly defined. I don't see a problem with this except that the local upper class that control the indigenous work force would be forced to pay well, and the nations themselves would have to spend far more on education and social programs in order to remain competitive. taxes can and should be split between host nation and nation of primary citizenship.

82:

I think I got into the conversation a bit late, but why are we only looking at the poor immigrant moving to the rich western country angle of this? If you have free movement of labor I could take some cash got to poor country a build a business and come home. Said, immigrants would then have no reason to move to aforementioned western country. I think we overlook the ability of trade and labor work both ways.

83:

79: fair enough - but it was you that compared restrictions on immigration to serfdom...

80: that's one option, sure, but it's not free movement of labour, and it would also involve restrictions on citizenship, possibly of the kind the original post was decrying.

84:

@ 9
I too got 58% and failed (a FAIl is better than 50% ???)
AND
I was born here in 1946, the descendant of Huguenot religious refugees (amongst other diverse groups).

What a load of lying SHIT.

However...
@46 "non-English speakers"
Well, I think people who live in a country should make some SERIOUS attempt to understand and use the local language.
Otherwise, you are NOT going to fit in.
This still does not mean that these "tests" are STILL SHIT, though.

I think I'm going to write to my (retiring at the next election) MP.

85:

79: fair enough - but it was you that compared restrictions on immigration to serfdom...

80: that's one option, sure, but it's not free movement of labour, and it would also involve restrictions on citizenship, possibly of the kind the original post was decrying.

81: well, possibly, but technically, that's free movement of capital, not of labour. If you're taking the cash to a poor country and building a business, by employing locals, then you're supplying the capital and getting (most of) the labour locally (except your own labour, of course). You could have a similar effect by just finding a smart local guy, lending him the money and letting him run the business - which is simply foreign investment.

86:

How do you solve a problem like the UK?

Or, by extension, The West. Heavy-handed regulation of the media, I would say.

Yeah- I went there. We're willing to accept that adverts sell pampers and deo, then we should be open about the effect of media on the national psyche, too.

I've had TV for about a month now, having largely gone without it for 10 years, and frankly it disgusts me-
At about the same scale as 'Pearl Harbour' did. I don't have a newspaper, but when I come across one of the more popular ones I get the same gut reaction of disgust at the irreversible pathology reflected therein. It's the same with these sort of measures- if only the problem was with the government- but it is not.

People are sick. Like crazy sick.

Xenophobia, lack of personal responsibility, lack of love(not respect but love), afraid, constantly kept afraid and worse of all angry, angry at scapegoats. The ancient Greeks would have had trouble categorizing us under a single bodyfluid.

The only solution seems to be to pack up, buy a boat, and sail off to new shores, there to found a government based on humane principles and, perhaps, a modest production of weapons.

I.e.: Where is our true internet 2.0? No Youtube to fill the internet with hockey matches, nor Facebook filled with the bastards that beat me up in school nor the Sun (well perhaps page 3) or Fox drawing in the Lusers.

I want an internet of educated, free-thinking individuals, even if they are severely spelling-disabled or libertarians. Just less of the plebs! Perhaps we could have them take a test before allowing them in...

87:

Nike in Vietnam pay their shop floor staff about the same as a mid ranking civil servant. Even if you don't have free movement of labour the free movement of capital and investment will tend to bid up wages over time, so it is better to free up investment regardless of how you deal with immigration. This bidding up process has resulted in textile firms abandoning Shanghai and moving up the Yangtze to less developed areas with lower wages.

88:

"79: fair enough - but it was you that compared restrictions on immigration to serfdom..."

specifically what I meant was the expectation of cheap labor that is thoroughly hemmed into it's area (and therefore, it's circumstances) of origin in an environment where everything else moves freely smacks of serfdom.

Closed borders by themselves do not constitute serfdom, just isolation.

89:

L2GX@85, Where you gonna sail to brother? No one but us ape-kin running around here.

Personally I think that's part of the problem. We have this belief that we can just pack up and go to the "New World" every time we crap all over our old houses. In a finite world that's just a non-starter, eventually you hit the wall and then all hell breaks loose.

90:

71: why is _Snow Crash_ deemed to be a dystopia?

Because the burbclaves are market segmentation, not multiculturalism. They offer a narrow selection of vanilla lifestyle choices to those who can afford them and nothing to anyone else. And they come at the cost of every public good, ever.

91:

Second thoughts
EVERYONE write to their MP.

This is disgusting, as disgusting as the police state we have, where a single policeman can condemn you as a criminal, for the rest of your life, with no trial.
and, yes, it has happened, already.

92:

Wow:
Questions answered correctly: 12 out of 24 (50%)

Time taken: 05 minutes

93:

R Lloyd @ 62, Brett Dunbar @ 86:

As the amount of local economic development increases (at least relative to the size of the available local labor force), the average cost of local labor goes up. This happens regardless of whether multinationals are active participants in the local local market, and regardless of any premiums they may pay over prevailing local rates, for similar jobs.

Meanwhile, as noted above, the careful observer will see more job seekers moving into the local area to take advantage of the higher wage opportunities, while at least some production facility owners look for suffieiently lower-wage areas to which they can move their factories, to reduce total costs per production unit.

Think of the process as a variant on economic osmosis, with diffusion of multiple solvents in opposite directions, across the same semi-permeable membrane of government-controlled access to the local economy. As the membrane gets more permeable (to a particular type of material, whether that material is dihydrogen monoxide, people, or investment capital), the rate of flow (in the direction of equalizing the concentration of that component) increases accordingly.

94:

Sam@89: It's also a dystopia because it's in decay. The burbclaves are bubbles of middle-class consumerism surrounded by warlords and people packing up their lives into vans and hitting the road with nowhere to go...

95:

Bob@52:

Here's a link to the (new) US Naturalization Test:

http://www.uscis.gov/newtest

There's no baseball or census questions in the study materials, but it is heavy on American History and the workings of government (branches, checks and balances, etc.) including asking who is the current office holders are (President, Chief Justice, Speaker of the House) including who are the Senators, Representative, and Governor for the person taking the test. Then again, if someone wants to become a citizen of a country, it seems reasonable to ask that they know something about the country and its history (particularly since the history of the US explains so much about who we, collectively, are). Actually, I think it is a shame that many natural-born citizens would be hard put to pass this test.

Regarding the "Sin Bin" proposal, every time I think that the UK has become such a nanny state that it would be hard to get any more extreme, they come up with something like this. I hope the the (ever more likely) self-immolation of Labour at the polls will reverse this trend but I am worried that the Tories would be insufficiently committed to individual rights to go far enough.

96:

50%

Ho hum. Apart from the distinction between can and may or should, the one on hospitals is nowadays wrong.

97:

@ 96
It always was wrong.

Anyone can walk into A&E and ask for medical help.
I've done it twice!

98:

"Nice to know that I can get a job without proof of ID; can't do that here."

You can't.

Well, not legally anyway. Employers have to see a proof of right to work, which means a proof of ID in effect.

"How do they determine the "problem families"?"

They're the ones who don't vote Labour.


99:

Katie @ #98:

No, an employer doesn't HAVE to see proof of work, but if they fail to check and are found out employing someone without the right to work, they're in for rather stiff fines.

I suspect most businesses will check, however, as a line in the new starter process saying "check for work permit or citizenship" ticket off would be a good defense against having to pay the fine.

100:

"No, an employer doesn't HAVE to see proof of work, but if they fail to check and are found out employing someone without the right to work, they're in for rather stiff fines."

Yeah, that's one of those "You can freely choose not to do this and just pay the fine instead" things...

101:

19 out of 24 (79%)
Due to several lucky guesses and being a trivia sponge.
So I'm not gonna be exiled yet. Goody.

OK as pub quiz. As a basis for citizenship, not so much.

Silly test. Silly silly test

102:

Hm, I've done this one before.

7 - there is no UK divorce law - the laws are different in England & Wales as opposed to Scotland - if I'm not mistaken there would be different timescales to the granting of the right to women to divorce their men!

9 - Also currently all people resident in Wales, and soon to be all people resident in Scotland.

15 - again there are different organisations available in Scotland.

18 - not sure if there is a difference, but there is different legislation applicable to education in England & Wales/Scotland and NI, so I have to assume this answer would be different depending on in which part of the UK you were living.

19 - what about a trade union, if you are a member?

63% for law graduate, whose first degree was in Constitutional Law!

103:

ajay @64: or alternative 5: no limits on movement across frontiers of capital or people.

You're not considering that one because the received wisdom is that it will create chaos, despair, and the collapse of civilization. And in the short term it will. But in the long term, ask yourself: who do these arbitrary restrictions on immigration serve? Prior to 1914 you could move around Europe without a passport, settle where you would, and that was that. I'm descended from folks who lived that way. (The branch of the family that settled in Poland and left it too late to get out were murdered by Nazis; this tends to colour my thinking.)

I really don't like restrictions on mobility and I think if we don't find a way of lifting them we're going to see (a) the use of state borders and migration restrictions used to provide cheap compulsory labour pools, and (b) eventually mass die-backs on a large (tens to hundreds of millions scale per nation) due to climate change.

104:

I agree. I am not certain but aren't the eastern EU countries allowed to come and go in Western Europe? I thought I read somewhere that their economies have grown significantly since then. I am sure, much of it is do to capital investment, as ajay pointed out, as well.

105:

cod3fr3ak: the biggest wave of immigration to hit the UK recently was from Poland -- around a million incomers in the period 2000 to 2007. Now Poles (and other Eastern Europeans) are the largest demographic of emigrants from the UK -- they seem to have decided that if there's a global recession rendering them jobless, they'd rather be jobless back home with their families.

106:

#19 bugs me a lot, since the wording doesn't match the answers and they leave options out.

"From which TWO places can you obtain advice if you have a problem at work and need to take further action?"

I think, as someone who works in HR, that your employer would certainly be somewhere to go for advice if you had a problem at work. A union would be another, though I'm not familiar with how they work in the UK.

But the answers they say are correct seem to assume that you're having a problem with your *employer* where as the question doesn't specify that. Perhaps you're having a problem with a coworker, or a customer, or the duties of the job itself. In which case, going to your employer first would be perfectly reasonable.

107:

I had to check my browser to make sure I was reading Charlie Stross not the Devil's Kitchen (http://devilskitchen.me.uk/ ) when I got to the meat of this post. Though it should be noted that the CCTV in your house thing seems to have been a Daily Express fantasy with about as much basis in reality as any speech by G Brown or his ZANU labour appartchiks

OH and re 105: The biggest growth in UK exports this year is apparently Hob Nobs to Eastern Europe

108:

Charlie -

That's true to a certain extent of the Polish immigrant community in Ireland, but significantly (IMO) a certain perecentage of Poles here are electing to stay in Ireland, for a number of reasons. Some of these are related to the perceived lower level of corruption in Irish everyday life (politics and business here are insanely corrupt, but ordinary people don't have to pay small bribes just to access everyday services, which apparently is the case in Poland).

109:

I'm not clear on the borderline between Metablogging and Metametablogging. I'm still amazed by the U.S. Constitution and California State Government Exam which I had to take (30 miles from home or my university at UCLA Extension) as a prerequisite for my California Secondary School Teaching Credential. I re-studied the subject intensely, having dealth with State and Federal Constitutional matters in Appellate Court and State Supreme Court writs, motions, and Briefs which I'd drafted in an earlier sub-career. The Exam was filled with trivia and what I took to be unintentionally "trick" questions. One must get at least 60 of the 75 questions right to pass. I got 2 wrong, the highest score the proctor had ever seen. But I don't know which 2. About 5 or 6 times I had to put what I knew to be the wrong answer, but which I could infer from reading between the questions was the answer that the exam writers wanted. Exampled (re: Venn diagram): "True of False: the Vice President must be at least 25 years old." Now, the Constitution specifies that the VP must be at least 35. But 35 is greater than 25. So, to be VP, you DO have to be over 25. So do they want a "True" or a "False"? I must have decided wrongly on 2 of the pseudo-trick questions. By the way, one has to know older versions of the Constitution, i.e. what was the law BEFORE a given Amendment. Anyway, I feel very entitled to be a California Resident and U.S. Citizen. My Physics professor wife is a Resident Alien, but that's another story.

110:

13 out of 24 for me, a 43 year old Brit. I note with interest that no single one of these VERY IMPORTANT QUESTIONS was ever taught to me at school or university. Clearly they aren't things that you need to know if you were actually born in the UK. I also note a selection of questions relating to Europe. Why does anyone need to know these? Everyone knows that proper Brits want nothing to do with those Johnny Foreigners types. Also agree that the hospital question is just wrong. I have been to hospital twice in non-emergency situations without a note from my GP. Dentist referred me on each occasion.

111:

I was quite pleased to get 71% right - and surprised too seeing as how so many of the questions are about irrelevant nonsense - but apparently 71% counts as a miserable failure. Disappointed. Will I be chucked out of Scotland now?

112:

AS I saw suggested elsewhere, all you failures should write to your MP saying that you demand to be deported for failing the test, seeing as you are obviously not good citizen material.

113:

103: ajay @64: or alternative 5: no limits on movement across frontiers of capital or people. You're not considering that one because the received wisdom is that it will create chaos, despair, and the collapse of civilization. And in the short term it will....

Charlie, that was actually my alternative number 2! "Free movement of capital and labour (entirely open borders)". And I don't think that chaos and despair are consequences to be shrugged off because they're only short term. The long term is made up of lots of short terms.

But in the long term, ask yourself: who do these arbitrary restrictions on immigration serve? Prior to 1914 you could move around Europe without a passport, settle where you would, and that was that.

As I said in 75, even without these arbitrary restrictions, people are still sticky. Maybe the ancestral Strosses managed it: good for them. But I bet it wasn't easy. People will never be as inherently mobile as money, unless we get rid of the international banking system and go back to shipping bags of gold bullion around the world at the same speed that people move. So if you want to do something about that, restrict capital (through, for example, a Tobin tax), don't try to free labour.

And as for your suggestion of massive diebacks due to climate change: if things get that bad, the diebacks not going to be prevented by open borders. If the Indus dries up, I don't think three hundred million Indians and Pakistanis are going to move to Europe and be saved, whatever our immigration policies are. And if things don't get that bad, I don't think that reducing the developed world to "chaos and despair" is going to be a good thing to aim for.

Absent catastrophe, there's also the brain drain argument: because people are sticky, the educated, multilingual ones are going to be the ones who try to emigrate. (Whether there are restrictions or not.) And because of technology, it's much more possible to emigrate now than a century ago. Which risks impoverishing the poor countries further through human capital flight.

114:

abi@113:

As I said in 75, even without these arbitrary restrictions, people are still sticky. Maybe the ancestral Strosses managed it: good for them. But I bet it wasn't easy. People will never be as inherently mobile as money...

Or to put it another way: there's no such thing as free movement of labour. Economic capital can be abstracted into money and moved from place to place as easily as any other kind of data; people have social capital that can't easily be abstracted or moved. So unregulated borders still actually favour the owners over the workers - to fix the power imbalance you need support for immigrants to compensate for lost social captial, and/or some kind of protectionism to inhibit the movement of economic capital.

115:

ajay@113
"Charlie, that was actually my alternative number 2! "Free movement of capital and labour (entirely open borders)". And I don't think that chaos and despair are consequences to be shrugged off because they're only short term. The long term is made up of lots of short terms."

I read this as entirely open borders meaning anything goes. No enforcement of immigration, etc. I do think that if people are going to come over then its best to allow them a legal way to do so.

116:

Question 8 of 24:

In which two of the following places does the European Union meet?

A London

B Strasbourg

C Paris

*headdesk* - it meets in Strasbourg and in Brussels

Anyway, I took Strasbourg only, being the only right answer available...

Incorrect. The correct answers were B Strasbourg and D Brussels.

I suppose being treated as an idiot because you failed to choose an option that was not available to you is a valid representation of modern British life.

117:

I managed to pass, despite having to guess at most of the answers. I'm British, and could move back if I (went totally crazy and) wanted to, but this test is one more reason to stay away.

118:

115: I don't quite see the distinction you're trying to make...

119:

@116.
Question 8 of 24:

In which two of the following places does the European Union meet?

A London

B Strasbourg

C Paris

*headdesk* - it meets in Strasbourg and in Brussels

Anyway, I took Strasbourg only, being the only right answer available...

Incorrect. The correct answers were B Strasbourg and D Brussels

FWIW That question, and a number of others allowedyou to select more than one answer.

120:
[Snow Crash is] also a dystopia because it's in decay. The burbclaves are bubbles of middle-class consumerism surrounded by warlords and people packing up their lives into vans and hitting the road with nowhere to go...

Actually, no. The setup of the novel was that globalization had equalized wealth worldwide -- "...once the Invisible Hand has taken all those historical inequities and smeared them out into a broad global layer of what a Pakistani bricklayer would consider to be prosperity." So there was decay in the First World (or at least, America), but improvement everywhere else.

So, from a utilitarian perspective, the world of Snow Crash is better for more people than our own world. So not dystopia, modulo Babylonian spoilers.

121:

Well, there already exists a fairly efficient answer to the race-to-the-bottom aspect of free trade, but scaling the european union up to a global scale would be rather... Challenging.

122:

120: hmm. What about all those thousands of desperate refugees on the Raft?

123:

FWIW That question, and a number of others allowedyou to select more than one answer.

Yes, but it only provided the three options I mentioned. I could have selected an extra, wrong answer, but I don't see the point.

124:

@ 98-100
ID
There is a simple ID which you MUST have, anyway to work legally in the UK.
Your National INsurance number.
AND
They are coded so any reasonably svvy employer will know instantly if you are allowed to work here.

@112 NOT what I was suggesting, 150% wrong!
I was suggesting writing to MP's to get this expensive (at the taxpayer's expense - us!) insanity stopped altogether.

125:

#116 - I got four alternates there, including the two correct ones.

I passed - I left the UK in 1969. However, the powerful heuristic "choose C" was effective at a couple of questions on which I was unsure. Such as the number of school days.

Lord, that's one turgid practice test.

126:

54% Born and bred Brit. Some of those questions require ridiculously arcane historical knowledge.

127:

13 correct (US-er here). I wonder about the question on speed limits. It was in MPH. Does Internet Explorer have an automatic metric-to-english system in the display, or what?

128:

I'm an American (and possibly a Canadian, too, depending on what the law says this week). I got 11 out of 24. I was pleased that I knew what a by-election was...although, admittedly, I learned it from Blackadder.

Then I ran through the "what did I do wrong?" pages, took the test again, and got 22 out of 24. Yeah, that's a useful test.

(I wanted to take the US test for comparison, but it's not working for me right now. Maybe they don't like Firefox.)

129:

Barry, distances on UK roads are measured in miles and yards, not metric. The anti-metrication movement is quite popular here, because they have managed to link their cause to EU-scepticism in the public mind...

130:

just tried that test and failed of course:-) What a waste of space! Who would want to know the number of self declared muslims in the country ? A bnp member maybe? It would vary from day to day and would be easier to look up anyway. The one about trouble at work and using your mp LOL. I tried it, little bastard wouldn't give me the time of day, they seem to forget they are public servants once elected. \
I have often thought that we could have an electronic democracy these days, then of course I think about the chavs having a say on things that affect me :-( then again at the moment its MPs which is worse I wonder :-/
Would a more democratic system be good thing or not or is a benign dictatorship the way to go?

No, wait a minute that's what we have got now isn't it?

131:

I haven't actually looked at the test before, and I was slightly surprised to find I got 75% (a pass!) despite guessing some and being sure that some of the answers which seemed to be the desired ones were not actually right. It is shocking that applicants for citizenship have to parrot this stuff; it strikes me that hardly anything in the test has anything to do with daily life in Britain.

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